Unexpected Grocery Aisle Encounter Leads to Heartwarming Family Movie Night


Last week, I found myself in the cereal aisle of a grocery store in Fairfax County, Virginia, having a debate with my son about breakfast choices. He wanted a box of sugary cereal, so I encouraged him to read the nutritional label.

As we were engrossed in analyzing the label on a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, which contains 12 grams of sugar per cup, a woman we didn’t know approached us. She asked if we had seen the movie “Unfrosted,” which came out last month on Netflix. When we said we hadn’t, she recommended we watch it, especially considering our very public argument.

I appreciated the brief encounter with this random stranger just outside our nation’s capital. In my experience, such interactions are common in the Midwest where I grew up — and often, I’m the one initiating them. But not so much on the East Coast, where joggers who wave to passersby are usually ignored. It felt like fate. We had to watch the movie that this kind stranger, probably also from the Midwest, recommended.

Over the weekend, I asked my sons to indulge me and watch “Unfrosted,” hoping to expand their attention spans beyond the YouTube shorts their generation loves. The movie, set in Battle Creek, Michigan, not far from my hometown, deals with a mostly fictitious rivalry between two cereal companies, Kellogg’s and Post, and their 1963 race to create and market a breakfast cake kids could heat in the toaster.

My sons didn’t find it as funny as I did. Unlike those of us raised in the latter half of the 20th century, fewer in their generation are raised on box cereal and Pop-Tarts. While I was laughing out loud throughout the film, they enjoyed it but didn’t find it quite as amusing.

For those of us who spent our mornings before school reading the backs of cereal boxes and hunting for the surprise inside as we enjoyed our sugary breakfasts, I found the plot relatable and brilliant.

It brought back wonderful childhood memories, like discovering that frosted Pop-Tarts taste even better with a slab of butter on top, and my brother and I being comically territorial over our respective Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles, ignoring any serving size recommendations. And seriously, who only ate a cup of cereal for breakfast?

“Unfrosted” also boasts possibly the most star-studded cast of any movie that went straight to streaming. Directed and co-written by Jerry Seinfeld, it features his A-list Hollywood friends. Stars in the movie include Melissa McCarthy, Jim Gaffigan, Hugh Grant, Amy Schumer, Max Greenfield, Christian Slater, Bill Burr, Daniel Levy, James Marsden, Jack McBrayer, Thomas Lennon, Bobby Moynihan, Adrian Martinez, Sarah Cooper, and Fred Armisen.

Aside from the famous actors and the film’s relatability, the main reason I enjoyed “Unfrosted” so much is that it’s simply a funny movie. There’s no political message, lecture, pandering, or call for future political action. Instead, its goal is silly entertainment. It provides a wonderful 90-minute escape from today’s political tumult. And we need more of that, especially in a presidential election year.

Even in the most heated arguments, there’s space for agreement and mutual understanding. In the end, my son and I agreed in the supermarket to buy a box of cereal as a dessert option while sticking with steel-cut oats for breakfast. Hopefully, Americans of all political stripes can agree there’s room for entertainment and comedy in our movies without politics, pandering, or pontification.

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is an author, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, a member of the Coalition for TJ, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network.

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