Cheerios, the cereal that has long been a staple of American breakfasts, will no longer be distributed in Israel. It is being replaced by a sugary alternative that, according to the importer, is more suited to the Israeli palate.
Original Cheerios, easily identified by its trademark bright yellow box, does not have enough of a demand here, Anglo File has learned. A new, multi-grain version of the cereal - which has nearly five times as much sugar per serving as the original oat-based product - is now being sold here instead.
"MultiGrain Cheerios keeps the same great taste as the original, previous product, but adds four additional whole grains," according to a statement by Osem, which imports Cheerios from Nestle. "The combination of taste and nutritional value creates a more attractive product for the whole family, which will suit both adults and children."
The move has left many Americans living here frustrated and frantically searching the supermarket shelves for the healthy, low-sugar cereal they have been enjoying since childhood.
"I've eaten Cheerios my whole life and it's been available the whole time I've been here," says former New Yorker Shifra Freidman, who immigrated to Israel 10 years ago and is a self-described Cheerios aficionado. "It's very frustrating not getting the products that I am used to having every morning. For the past month, I started noticing that I couldn't find it on the shelves, and so I would go to other supermarkets, and still I couldn't find it."
For many American parents, Cheerios is one of the first solid foods their children eat.
"I don't know what I'm going to give my baby," complains Lisi Geffen, originally from New Jersey. "My kids grew up on Cheerios and the MultiGrain has sugar, which I try to avoid. I'm very careful about what I give my kids."
According to Dudu Turjeman, manager of the Super Hatzlacha supermarket in Beit Shemesh, many shoppers among his largely Anglo customer base have been complaining since the product began disappearing from the shelves a few weeks ago.
"My customers don't understand why they would discontinue a product that is so popular here," says Turjeman. "Some of the customers have threatened to `make yerida,'" he added.
Though some nine varieties of the cereal are marketed in the U.S., only two - MultiGrain and Honey Nut - are now available here. Original Cheerios has 4.5 grams of sugar per serving, compared to MultiGrain's 20.5 grams.
In another blow to American cereal eaters, Kellogg's Rice Krispies will also no longer be available in Israel. A representative of Shimon Shestovich, the importers, confirmed that imports of the cereal had been discontinued, but by press time no reason was provided.