Ah, it's morning and time to pour a nice bowl of sweet Cinnamon Toast Crunch. But then, what's that? Is it a sugar cluster? A misguided square? No. It's a shrimp tail — an empty shrimp tail coated in toasty bits.
At least that's what Jensen Karp, the Los Angeles-based comedian, writer and dad, claims he discovered Monday. After eating a bowl, Karp went to pour a second for he and his young son to share. That's when he saw cinnamon-crusted shrimp tails swimming around the bag. Along with the shellfish remains, Karp told TODAY Food there were also little black specks resembling rat droppings baked into the squares and some green pea-sized thing.
According to Karp, he and his wife, former "Boy Meets World" star Danielle Fishel, purchased a family pack of the cereal at a Costco in Woodland Hills, California. He found the alleged shrimp tails in one of the bags ... after he ate a bowl of the stuff. In shock, Karp inspected the cereal further with the help of Fishel, who he said "has a stronger stomach" than he. The other bag looked like it was taped up with clear packing tape and had what appeared to be a loose string of dental floss inside, the photos of which Karp also posted to Twitter.
We'll give you a minute.
So what happened? Did an unfortunate fluke (seafood pun intended) go unnoticed at the General Mills manufacturing facility? Did some creepy customer take advantage of Costco's accommodating return policy (yes, the big box store even accepted a 13-year-old frozen fish)? Or could this be yet another Blue Bell ice cream licking scenario in which perpetrator was not caught on camera and prosecuted?
"This would seem like a good theory," Karp told TODAY about the idea that someone tampered with his cereal box after it was at the store. "But also there are weird black items cooked onto the squares AND the shrimp tails are sugar coated."
When Karp took to Twitter and asked the company what occurred, the answers were not what he expected. At first the brand's social media team offered him a replacement box, to which he politely replied, "GUYS - I am not sure I'm ready for another box!"
The Cinnamon Toast Crunch team said they reported the incident to quality control and need to do further research before coming to a conclusion. After some public discourse about what transpired, the company tweeted to Karp the shrimp tails were not, in fact, shrimp tails.
"Ok, we’ll after further investigation with my eyes, these are cinnamon coated SHRIMP TAILS, you weirdos. I wasn’t all that mad until you now tried to gaslight me?," Karp wrote.
Seth Rogan replied to the viral thread, too, with some sage advice.
Padma Lakshmi also retweeted the now very viral situation, commenting "Sweet & savory."
She isn't wrong.
Jokes aside (at least, we hope Rogan is joking), TODAY reached out to a spokesperson for General Mills to get a statement about Karp's alleged findings.
"While we are still investigating this matter, we can say with confidence that this did not occur at our facility," company spokesperson Mike Siemienas said in statement. "We are waiting for the consumer to send us the package to investigate further. Any consumers who notice their cereal box or bag has been tampered with, such as the clear tape that was found in this case, should contact us."
According to a Tuesday morning update from Karp, the comedian isn't set on sending them the tails.
But he is actively trying to get to the bottom of the situation, especially because consuming rat droppings can be potentially harmful to his health.
"I am currently at a hospital, as poison control suggested they test the black parts — as I ate a bowl," Karp told TODAY on Tuesday afternoon. "People have said they can help, but this is all I’m currently doing."
Karp added that he has not heard anything else from General Mills about the matter and has not heard from Costco at all, despite reaching out after the incident occurred Monday.
According to a 2019 study about unwanted creatures like bugs, rodents and even birds in produce, there's a lack of transparency for documenting such incidents, though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does have a complaint document consumers are encouraged to fill out following a creepy-crawly finding.
So, it looks the Karps' crustacean remains may be a case for the FDA ... or maybe King Triton.