As far as hanging on to the past goes, nobody is more surprised at his recent popularity than Ben from A1. As he sits on the Big Reunion tour bus staring incredulously through greying bangs at his payslip, Bradley gratefully searches for his bandana ready for his big S Club comeback. But he does so with hurried caution. Bradley is rummaging, but he's looking over his shoulder, because secretly Bradley knows how good S Club 7 really were. Even he can't quite believe people would want it all over again.
Next month, groovy young bearded twins Alan and Gary Keery will surf into East London on the tsunami of 90s and noughties nostalgia by opening a cereal-themed eatery of childhood dreams. Cereal Killer Café will offer up bowls of snazzed up Sugar Puffs and other zany flavoured cereals with "toppings" like marshmallows and nuts. Prices starting at £2.50-£3.50 ($4-$5.50) for a large bowl.
The boys say they got their inspiration "wandering around Shoreditch one lunch looking for cereal" when "the lightbulb moment hit." For most people, this would involve popping to Tesco for a box of Crunchy Nut; for these two, it meant them firing up an Indiegogo campaign to open their own cafe. The campaign ultimately failed, but somebody with bulging pockets still thought this was an excellent idea.
Cereal Killer Café will offer 120 novelty cereals and 20 types of toppings. Up and down the walls there will be retro memorabilia from cereals gone by, while Dexter's Laboratory and old episodes of ThunderCats blare on in the background. You'll be able to look wistfully at cool pencil toppers from days of yore and remember those summers when you collected bike reflectors and your mother was proud of you. You can have all the inane cul de sac conversations you had with strangers in Freshers week—the ones when you were enthusiastically scrabbled at the bottom of the barrel, and for common ground someone would say: "How weird was Round the Twist, actually." Then you would all LOL and LOL about how you thought your Beanie Babies were worth loads but now they totally aren't.
After you'd made real friends, you probably thought you'd had your fun exhausting all avenues of reminiscence. But you were wrong, because a few years later the internet showed up to the party in a Kangol hat, desperate to have these chats all over again. It Macarena'd over to the stereo: "Hey, remember this one guys!" it said, cranking up the Vengaboys for the third time that night. "BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, I want you in my room," it sang while we all bopped along.
There's an inherent ennui in attempting to eat your childhood.
And soon we'll have an immersive cereal experience that is not prepared to let you forget the 90s. No silly, not the Rwandan Genocide and the atrocities of the Kosovan war—just all the noms that Coco Pops made you feel.
Of course, for a big city like London, this will not be the first or last case of the Emperor's-new-dining experience. This is a city that is perpetually selling tickets to a pantomine of cuntery that's a sell out every night. It's made people hunch over the table to lick a meaty brick and fight off crowds to eat £22 ($35) fish from a can. It makes us beg, queue, and sing for our food like protagonists in a Victorian nursery rhyme. If you're prepared to charge for it, we'll have it cold and out of a paper bag in the pissing rain. In fact, just a five minute walk down the road from this cereal joint, you can part with £55 ($87) to eat an award-winning chicken nugget served in a basket of pine cones.
Will the waitstaff of the future be forced to pay the rent by singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and wet-wiping the bottoms of eager East Londoners?
Charging punters £3.50 for a bowl of Shreddies with a kooky topping will not be the most ludicrous trick that ambitious young things will ever play on London. But it's less the gall of this pair to rip Londoners off that's bothersome—it's the theme. We can all try to ignore an internet culture that persistently reminds us of the not-that-long-ago past, along with a TV culture that continues to excavate bands we barely remember, but there's an inherent ennui in attempting to eat your childhood.
Safe from the pressures of the outside world, in this maize-based haven, customers will be given the opportunity to regress beyond their wildest dreams. They'll get to dribble down their chins one of the 12 different types of milk on offer and remember happier times—times when their greatest fears were missing an episode of Clarissa Explains It All, or getting a knot in their X-Brain yo-yo.
Stuck in our shit jobs, maximally bummed out by the fact that we're never going to buy a house, it's sort of heartbreaking that we're spending all our spare cash hopelessly crunching on wet Golden Nuggets of the past.
Cereal Killers does make a bit of a puzzle out of what the fuck we're actually paying for when we eat out. If the thrill we seek is infantalisation, will tomorrow's eateries be charging us nine quid for bowls of rusks and beakers of fresh breast milk? Will the waitstaff of the future be forced to pay the rent by singing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and wet-wiping the bottoms of eager East Londoners?
"Urban foodies" will give no shits about any of this, because this is the dream they always dreamed. People will tweet about how many "sleeps" they'll be forced to endure until it opens, and then it will be rammed and Instagrammed to kingdom come. For some this will be soothing cultural Calpol: an opportunity to prattle on through Tinder dates about Pokémon and Opal Fruits. (Remember when they were called that!) For the rest of us, this is simply the dining equivalent of being hit repeatedly in the face with a slap bracelet.