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Just when I thought it was safe to go back into the water: Michael Phelps is the new spokesman for Kellogg's Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes cereals, and the media wants you to be very upset about it.

Apparently -- and this was news to me -- everyone in the world (except the clever bastards at Kellogg's) wanted Phelps to endorse General Mills' Wheaties, a cereal with much less sugar content and the iconic real estate to which Americans look for their annual re-definition of their sports role-model. (Olympic decathlete Bob Richards was the first athlete to appear on the front of a Wheaties box in 1958, and it's pretty much been a who's who of sport stars-of-the-moment for the 50 years since.) It seems that the Wheaties cover means something to people, and failing to appear on Wheaties must represent some sort of failing on the part of Phelps. (Nevermind that Kellogg's has already paid well over $70 million this summer alone to sponsor the Olympics and Team USA while Wheaties has spent nothing.) Worse still, Phelps' endorsement of Frosted Flakes (once called Sugar Frosted Flakes) is by many considered an endorsement of shoveling cane sugar into America's already obese children. How dare you make America more fat, Mr. Phelps?

I say America, make up your mind. Do you want Phelps as hero (world-conquering, invulnerable super-athlete) or Phelps as angel (life-affirming, affable boy-next-door)? Kellogg's wisely will take what they can get. After all, they have some experience with the original dual-identity sponsor, Superman, who proudly promoted their product during the televised Adventures of Superman starting in 1952, years before Wheaties began promoting athletes on the front of their box.

If Frosted Flakes is good enough for Superman, then it damn well ought to be good enough for Michael Phelps. If you need an orange Wheaties box to tell you who your heroes are, I think you've got bigger problems than even Michael Phelps can fix.

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To be continued...


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