If you were on Twitter at all yesterday, you probably saw the saga of one man’s bizarre experience with foreign objects in a box of cereal. That man is Jensen Karp, the author of Kanye West Owes me $300: And Other True Stories from a White Rapper Who Almost Made It Big, who is also a former rapper known as Hot Karl, and is also married to Topanga from Boy Meets World (aka Danielle Fishel Karp). Karp tweeted about a strange discovery in his Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Namely, two shrimp tails.
Things got weird (and viral) really quick. Because this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill foreign object like an errant piece of packaging plastic or maybe a screw. Is there a secret ingredient we don’t know about in Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Is that what makes it so poppin’? Shrimp?!
Like any responsible human being, Karp let General Mills know about the issue. The corporation downplayed the entire thing, initially calling what was clearly shrimp tails “accumulations of sugar.” Yes. That’s obviously some accumulations of sugar, on top of shrimp tails.
Things went south after that. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch team denied that shrimp were anywhere near the manufacturing process, claiming, “After further investigation with our team that closely examined the image, it appears to be an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren’t thoroughly blended. We assure you that there’s no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.”
Karp also found some odd pieces with some sort of aberrations baked into them, little black squiggles, that he thought may have possibly been rat turds. Other foreign objects discovered were a piece of string, and what appeared to be a small nut or bean. I have lived quite a life, and so I can say with some certainty that those don’t appear to be rat turds. Let’s hope to God that they are not.
After examining one of the bags, Karp found that it had been sealed with clear tape, indicating the possibility that it had been tampered with (yikes). So exactly what happened isn’t quite clear, and the saga has yet to conclude.
But when I was reading about all of this yesterday, I thought, well, what if that had been me? I love shrimp. Sometimes, if they’re fried crunchy enough, I’ll even eat a shrimp tail now and then, which is totally fine. I’m not a details person; if I’d gotten that same bag of cereal, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the shrimp tails, and in fact, I would have probably eaten them.
“Hey guys,” I said to the rest of the Takeout team over Slack. “I’m going to Jewel to pick up some Cinnamon Toast Crunch and to Culver’s for some fried shrimp. Bye!”
Now, there are some of you rolling your eyes, saying, “Dennis, you’re just looking for attention. You think this is going to get you cheap clicks and you’ll ride this wave to fame.” Listen. I’m not sure any of you know me that well, then, because you should see what I do in my spare time for fun. I tried making empanadas with Play-Doh once (almost threw up), I’ve eaten a bunch of cat food (then got blocked by a Top Chef on Twitter because of it), attempted to create puffy Cheetos with edible(ish) packing peanuts, and way more. Shrimp in Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Compared to all of those things, this could be actually good!
I’m really glad they slapped that sticker on the cereal box and on my milk before I ran out the grocery store doors. It may say “Thanks For Shopping With Us,” but it also means, “Dennis legitimately bought this and is not fleeing from security.”
You may be wondering why I bought Culver’s fried shrimp, specifically, and didn’t get some frozen cooked shrimp from the freezer aisle. It’s because Culver’s fried shrimp is awesome, and the shrimp that Karp posted on Twitter kinda looked like fried shrimp tails, though they might just look that way because they were caked in cinnamon sugar.
I took my first bite, started chewing, and my eyes lit up. Could this be... good?
I took another spoonful and chewed slowly, pondering why I was actually enjoying this. Fried shrimp tails, when crisp (like these were), crunch up into little flaky chips, and mix in with the crunchy sweet cereal pretty well. So the textures together were good. The breading on Culver’s shrimp is seasoned with herbs and spices, and something about that combination really worked with the cereal. I wasn’t shocked, but I was surprised that not only was this combination okay, it was actually tasty!
“Fuck it,” I said. I chopped up some fried shrimp meat, breading and all, and tossed it into the cereal too.
This was even better. You know those granola clusters in Honey Bunches of Oats that you covet and pick out? Each bite of cereal with Culver’s fried shrimp made it feel like I hit some sort of messed up seafood jackpot in my breakfast cereal. I think it was less the shrimp itself, and more the fact that the fried shrimp breading was so savory. But the chunks of meat made for a pretty good contrast to the crunchy cereal.
I don’t know, man. If I had been Karp, and had accidentally eaten the shrimp tails, I’m not so sure I would have minded (the black flecks and dental floss are the real deal-breakers there). All in all, this was way better than the time I did a taste test of glue sticks to see which one was my favorite. I give Cinnamon Shrimp Crunch three thumbs up.