“Wheaties” & Charles Atlas

Prepubescent Gumshoe had a morning habit of reading cereal boxes while happily munching down on a variety of dry (just add milk) breakfast fare from Cheerios, Rice Crispies, Corn Flakes, Coco Puffs, Fruit Loops, etc.

These cereals were occasional treats for us young Pitocco tribe.

However, the bright orange box of “Wheaties” of wholegrain flakes that featured a picture of a star athlete with the memorable byline, “Breakfast of Champions” caught the young and skinny-scrawny Gumshoe’s imagination.

It was just like when Gumshoe would study the old “Charles Atlas” back cover comic book page ad that depicted a muscle-bound beach bully kicking sand in the face of a skinny weakling.

This ad would encourage many a male adolescent to become basement weightlifters to bulk up as a beach army of powerful Charles Atlases who would deter those nasty sand-kicking goons.  Girls would swoon!

Hmmm?  Become a champion by eating “Wheaties” and lifting some weights in order to kick sand into the beach bully face . . . sign Gumshoe up!

Well, folks, Gumshoe’s large family (oldest of eight siblings) and small grocery budget did not include “Wheaties” for morning daily eats.  Mostly thick oatmeal or lumpy Cream of Wheat was the breakfast menu.

The cost of Charles Atlases’ comic book advertised plan for becoming an “Arnold Schwarzenegger“ was just beyond Gumshoe’s limited budget.

Gumshoe’s dreams were tucked neatly away for many growing-up years until he later heard the siren call of the Marine Corps that promised to build Gumshoe’s body, mind, and spirit . . . Uuuurah!

Seventeen-year-old Gumshoe signed up with his parent’s waiver.

That promise was kept by the Marines and Gumshoe knows that Charles Atlas would have been proud!

Well, that’s all for now gentle readers.  Always remember to love the ones who love you and really try to love those who don’t.

Coram Deo!

PS:  Gumshoe still eats his “Wheaties” but with non-fat milk.


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. Somehow your articles always bring up some memories of a youth gone by. Like you, our breakfast regimen was also Cream of Wheat, oatmeal, Corn Flakes and Cheerios. I would add Nestles Coco to my milk for Chocolate Milk. Being Italian we always had Italian bread in the house for toast.
    I remember before I joined the Corps our neighbor who was a Marine stationed at the 8th Tank Battalion which was located at the time three blocks from our home in Mattydale, NY was always telling me that once I went to bootcamp I would be able to work out as much as I wanted to build my body. Little did I know that the Corps would build me according to what they wanted. Lean and mean with instant obedience.
    Thanks again Gum Shoe for the memory.
    Semper Fi

    • Always my pleasure Tom to go down memory lane prior to our days in the Corps. Without a doubt my friend, we definitely made a rite of passage in order to earn that globe and anchor. It made us good Marines and good cops. Semper Fi!

  2. Well I can tell you as a female , one of the first of three to be hired back in the day, and having gone through the academy, I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said I didn’t fit the mold of what they thought a female officer should look like. I could retire with more than what my pension gives. But, as I once told a DI instructor, I don’t need 6” Bi-ceps and grow hair on my chest to get the job done. Graduating from the academy, the oldest of the 27 females who started, my point was made.

  3. When I was a kid we didn’t have boxed cereal. If they were in the grocery stores they never made it to our breakfast table. I despised cream of wheat and ate oatmeal only under protest. Our more typical fare was ham and eggs. Ham being substituted by bacon, sausage, or a piece of last night’s fried chicken. We raised our own chickens and butchered a hog each November so those items were less expensive than buying oatmeal.

    Since I never heard of Atlas and had no knowledge of sand beaches, I was never motivated to bulk up to save scrawny guys.

    • You were definitely a lucky kid my friend Ken. Sand in your face (not to mention down inside your swim trunks) was a rite of passage for some of us at Parris Island, South Carolina courtesy of our “beloved” Marine Corps Drill Instructors.
      Thanks for your comment and your breakfast suggestion.