In 2003, you could find Snickers and Lucky Charms in only one location in all of Syria. Stocked quantities would lead you to conclude that the products were imported in a suitcase or two. These were luxuries reserved for non-Syrians suffering from serious home-sickness, because only such desperate individuals could justify spending $8 for a box of cereal and $6 for a candy bar.
Joey and I couldn’t afford such desperation, so instead of Lucky Charms, we sprang for Lebanese cornflakes that were marketed as “Poppins Flick Flakes.” As far as cornflakes go, Flick Flakes were pretty tasty, as long as you could consume them before they got soggy. Their best aspect was, arguably, the sales spiel on the back of the box, which was conveniently provided in both English and Arabic. It went like this:
“Do you know that a bowl of Poppins cereals with milk is the best way to start the day? Research shows that a cereal breakfast is the most nutritious breakfast for you and your kids. Kids who eat Poppins with milk every morning have better results in school because they have more energy, more concentration and a better attitude. Cereals provide more vitamins and minerals than any other breakfast.”
The unsubstantiated claims and vague references to research always made me chuckle. It was only fair that I got a daily healthy laugh out of Flick Flakes, considering how many empty calories I consumed with each bowl.