Weetabix… Don’t Let Them Go Soggy!

America likes its breakfast cereals sweet, colourful, and largely made up of marshmallow. With cereals in Britain, we have a reputation for being a bit blander  - but the country’s not too worried, downing 6.7kg of the stuff each per year! British adult breakfast cereals may not be appealing to the eye (we’re looking at you, porridge!) but more than make up for it with lower sugar levels and great taste. In this week’s British Pantry we take a look at Weetabix, which isn’t just the most popular cereal in the UK, it’s also – for better or worse – a part of the culture too.

Weetabix in Popular Culture

Weetabix Skins

Advertising for Weetabix in the 1980s featured the ‘Weetabix Skins’, a skinhead gang that threatened viewers to “make it neat wheat mate… If you know what’s good for you!” OK!!!

Jon Stewart

The Daily Show presenter is pretty hilarious when turning his attention to most topics, and Weetabix is no exception. During a Daily Show package on American soldiers working in Afghanistan, he said:

“To the NATO Allies that we met. The troops from the other countries that were there. That give so much. Your service is much appreciated. But that is no excuse to introduce Weetabix to our troops. I’m sorry. That is not a breakfast. That is a building material.”

The Weetabix Challenge

Two minutes to consume two Weetabix with no liquid. Is it possible? [LANGUAGE WARNING]

Liam Gallagher

After Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney had a hair transplant, pundits were at a loss with how best to describe it. Former Oasis singer and Manchester City fan Liam Gallagher stepped in, describing Rooney as “A balloon with a Weetabix crushed on top.”

Conkers: A British Fall tradition!

Despite this strange summer-like weather we NYC inhabitants are experiencing, we have it on good authority that Blighty is undergoing a Fall (or, Autumn), of classic proportions – the turning of the leaves, the crisp chill in the air, and all that. For time immemorial, this changing of the seasons has meant one thing for British children (and some adults): conkers!

Conkers fresh from the shell.

Conkers are the fruit of the horse-chestnut tree. Hard and shiny, they are attractive objects in their own right but seem to hold little opportunity for fun and games. Not until British schoolchildren came along! Ever-innovative in the face of a culture beset by frugality and tradition (see: spinning tops, jumping jacks, and paddle ball), they had the cunning to drill a hole through the rock hard little nuts, that lay with abundance and for free across the ground, and stick a string through it.

Take aim

They now were equipped with a weapon of sorts and the premise for a conflict – hit each others’ conkers with your conker! Easy-peasy, the first conker to break lost! A yearly gauntlet was laid – who would have the unbeatable champion conker of the Fall. In pursuit of this title, children went to great ends, swearing by a plethora of different measures to harden up their little fighter: soak in vinegar, bake in the oven, or cover in varnish.

There can only ever be one winner... This may end in tears

Played to the day in schoolyards, playgrounds and parks across Britain, this is a true Fall tradition. Horse-chestnut trees can be found across the US in wooded areas. If you’re lucky enough to come across one of the spiny little kernels, make sure to pick it up. Now you’ll just need, a drill, some string and a worthy competitor!

Observer Food Monthly

Here we are in one of our favorite foodie mags back in 2003, the Observer Food Monthly. The food critic Jay Rayner is definitely a big food hero of ours, so we’re especially touched that, alongside Kate Moss and Sophie Dahl, he’s been singing our praises.