Cereal is a staple of the American breakfast table, consumed by millions of people every day and tied, for many, with memories of childhood. So when a story began circulating this week about a disturbing discovery in a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, consumers were horrified.
None more so than Jensen Karp.
On Monday morning, he ate a bowl of his favorite cinnamon sugar-striped cereal. As he began filling a second bowl, “something plopped out of the box,” he said in an interview. “I picked it up, and I was like, ‘This is clearly a shrimp tail.’”
He looked in the bag and saw what appeared to be another tail. Both were encrusted with sugar. “I get really grossed out, and I’m medicated for O.C.D., so this is a total nightmare for me,” he said.
Mr. Karp, a 41-year-old comedian and writer in Los Angeles, took a picture of the contents and sent it to his wife, Danielle Fishel Karp, who played Topanga Lawrence-Matthews on “Boy Meets World.”
began selling Cinnamon Toast Crunch in 1984, documenting what he’d found. Soon after, he posted a picture of the items on Twitter. Eventually, Cinnamon Toast Crunch reached out to Mr. Karp through its brand Twitter account.
“Privately, they were still being very nice,” he said, offering to send a replacement box, which he politely declined. Then the brand 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,” the statement from Cinnamon Toast Crunch read. “We assure you that there’s no possibility of cross contamination with shrimp.”
That didn’t sit well with Mr. Karp, and he responded with frustration.
subsequent email, a General Mills representative advised Mr. Karp to send the items to his “local law enforcement” if he would not send them to the company.)
A friend connected him with a third testing company, which he is hoping to have test one of the tails to confirm that it is, in fact, shrimp. For now, he said, “I’m not considering legal action. Obviously, if I ate rat poop, we’re gonna have to readdress that.”
Mr. Karp is frustrated with how General Mills handled the situation. “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 said. “But instead, they wanted to basically gaslight me.”