June 19, 2013 at 12:39 PM ET
Until recently, the only crime that Cap’N Crunch could be accused of was cutting up the roofs of our mouths, despite his cereal’s delicious sweet corn taste. Now, an eagle-eyed cereal lover has found that Cap’N Crunch is not a captain at all, but a commander, according to the stripes on his uniform.
Navy captains sport four stripes, while commanders have three—as the captain does—but many on the Internet quickly rushed to the cereal icon’s defense, pointing out that anyone who leads a ship can technically be called a captain.
The news got the Twitterverse buzzing, and the Cap’N himself has taken to Twitter to defend himself, maintaining that the hullaballoo is “All hearsay & misunderstandings! I captain the S.S. Guppy with my crew, which makes me an official Cap'n.”
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Cap’N Crunch cereal, and cereal expert Marty Gitlin, co-author of “The Great American Cereal Book,” says he can’t believe no one’s spotted the snafu before.
“Easily, Cap’N Crunch has the most elaborate storyline of any cereal character in history,” Gitlin explained.
Back in the early 1960s, Jay Ward Productions, the designers of Rocky and Bullwinkle (among other characters), came up with the Cap’N, and Quaker developed the cereal around him in 1963, Gitlin said. During Saturday morning cartoon commercials and on the back of cereal boxes, kids could follow the storyline of the Cap’N’s adventures, traversing the Sea of Milk on his S.S. Guppy.
On his excursions, the Cap’N would meet a whole cast of characters who then inspired new flavors—Chockle the Blob’s Choco Crunch, Jean LaFoote a.k.a. the Barefooted Pirate’s Cinnamon Crunch, Wilma the Whale’s Vanilla Crunch—all which have since faded away. The only exotic flavors that are still around today include Peanut Butter (originally inspired by Smedley, the roller-skating elephant) and, of course, Crunch Berry (inspired by the Crunch Berry Beast).
“When I talk to baby boomers, more people tell me that Cap’N Crunch is their all-time favorite cereal more than any other,” Gitlin said. “Nothing else even comes close.”
The Cap’N—whose full name is Horatio Magellan Crunch—was always a good guy for the most part, Gitlin said, and he can’t imagine he intentionally meant to mislead anyone. “My assumption is that Quaker will give him another stripe or rename him Commander Crunch. They should have a ceremony where he gets his captain stripe—and probably sell lots of Cap’N Crunch cereal in the process.”
But Quaker says that isn't likely.
"We don’t feel [the fourth stripe is] necessary -- the Cap’n is after all a Cap’n, as he mans the S.S. Guppy," a spokesperson told TODAY.com. "And it’s the crunch, not the clothes, that make the man!"