March 24, 2021 -- Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a breakfast cereal beloved by thousands if not millions of children -- and adults -- since the mid-1980s. Now it’s becoming known for something besides its super sugary taste.
Jensen Karp of Los Angeles says he was eating his favorite cereal when he found something that shouldn’t be there: A couple of sugar-encrusted shrimp tails.
Karp, who first tweeted about the disturbing finding, later told The New York Times, “I get really grossed out, and I’m medicated for OCD, so this is a total nightmare for me.
Karp, a comedian, writer, and podcaster, says he contacted General Mills, the cereal maker, through a standardized submission form and posted a picture of his find on Twitter. General Mills replied to Karp on Twitter, saying, “We’re sorry for what you found! We would like to report this to our quality team and replace the box.”
Then the company issued a public statement on Twitter: “After further investigation with our team that closely examined the image, it appears to be an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren’t thoroughly blended. We assure you that there’s no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.”
Karp fired back on Twitter: “Ok, well 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 said he looked through the cereal bag again and found other stuff: “shrimp skins-looking things,” a piece of string, a sugar-encrusted pistachio, and little black objects on some of the cereal squares.
Fearing the black things were rat feces, he took them to a lab for analysis, TheTimes said. He didn’t feel sick but was worried he might. He also discovered the second bag of cereal in the “two-pack” box had been taped at the bottom, leading him to believe the cereal was tampered with, TheTimes said.
“While we are still investigating this matter, we can say with confidence that this did not occur at our facility,” Mike Siemienas, a representative for General Mills, wrote in an email to TheTimes. “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.”
Karp is leery of giving up what may be evidence to General Mills. He’s still waiting for a lab to tell him what was really in the cereal. And his dissatisfaction with General Mills is growing.
“All you have to do is say, ‘This is such a bummer, we’re going to look into it. We’re going to recall the ones from your Costco.’ Like, it’s such an easy PR thing to do,” he told TheTimes. “But instead, they wanted to basically gaslight me.”
He rejects the suggestion that he might be pulling a prank, citing his lack of skills to pull it off and his loyalty to Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
“To take down my favorite cereal brand? I don’t even know why that’s a funny joke. I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s the only cereal I eat. I own the Kyrie Irving Cinnamon Toast Crunch Nikes.”
Meanwhile, jokey pictures of Cinnamon Toast Crunch boxes are flooding social media.