Happy President’s Day!
How many U.S Presidents can you name, aside from the ones in office since you’ve been alive? I’m kinda lucky in that regard, in that I think I can name them all, and it’s thanks to a box of Cheerios. Actually, it’s thanks to many boxes of Cheerios, and the undying curiosity of an 8-year old.
I thin I may have told this story before; if so, forgive me, but it’s kind of appropriate for today. You see, when I was 8, I was fascinated by cereal boxes, what was inside of them, and what was on the outside of them. I would dig through them for the toys, I would save box-tops and send away for items, and I would cut out the games they put on the back of the boxes. When I was (I think) 8, the makers of Cheerios decided to try to improve the civics knowledge of little nerds like me, and started to put Presidential trading cards, 4 at a time, on the back of each box. The idea was that kids would collect them all, thereby improving their knowledge of American history while at the save time improving General Mills’ bottom line by having the parents of said kids rush out and buy box upon box of Cheerios so the trading card collection could become complete.
At least, that’s how I remember it happening in the Koski household. You could collect the cards 4 at a time, but it always wasn’t a different 4 every time; in other words, you might have to collect a double or two to get a card you didn’t have. And since this was back when Tricky Dicky Nixon was President, that means you had 37 cards you had to collect. So at the very minimum, you would’ve had to buy 10 boxes of Cheerios to complete the set, and that’s not even accounting for the fact that you would eventually have to buy more to actually get all 37.
I don’t know why I was so fascinated by the Presidential trading cards, but I was. Before obsessing over the cards, I knew that George Washington was the first President, that Abraham Lincoln was on the penny, and that John Kennedy had been shot, but that was about it. I soon learned that William Henry Harrison caught pneumonia while giving a 4-hour inaugural speech on the cold, and died a few weeks later. I learned that James Buchanan was the only bachelor President. And I learned that Grover Cleveland was the only President who had been elected, lost his re-election bid, but then came back to retake the Presidency in the election after THAT.
Needless to say, despite what I was learning I don’t believe I ever DID get all 37 Presidential trading cards. I’m not sure if it’s because my parents didn’t want to get a second mortgage to buy all those boxes, or because everyone just got sick of eating Cheerios, but I must’ve petered out somewhere in the mid to upper 20s. Still, the knowledge I gained from reading the back of cereal boxes has stuck with me ever since, as I STILL find politics fascinating, and I still know, somewhere in the back of my head, that most of our first half dozen Presidents were Whigs. Not wore wigs, but WERE Whigs.
As in the Whig political party.
So thank you Cheerios. And Happy Presidents’ Day to everyone.