Break out the monocles, people; a question of cereal etiquette has been raised.

Somebody wrote to “Miss Manners” (the pseudonym of Judith Martin and Nicholas Ivor Martin) at the Mercury News asking about the “proper vessel” with which to serve cereal to guests. Ooh, la-di-da Mr. French Man, too good to leave out the box of Cap’n Crunch now?

They ask:

I know one should never serve food in its original container from the store, but I am at a loss when trying to deal with cereal, especially since it comes in so many sizes and shapes. Some types could easily be poured from a pitcher, while others could possibly be served on a platter with long fish tongs.

Miss Manners’s bizarre response:

GENTLE READER: Did Miss Manners forget to decree that hosts should serve food in a way that gives diners a reasonable chance to transfer the food from the serving dish to their plate without half of it ending up on the table, the floor or themselves?

However, since most hosts will be responsible for any resulting cleanup, Miss Manners recommends a moderate nod to practicality after disposing of the plastic wrappers: a bowl and spoon for small items, a platter and serving utensil for more substantial items.

Did Miss Manners forget it’s also rude and obnoxious to refer to oneself in the third person?

Anyway, there’s nothing serious about cereal to begin with, so the question and response are pretty confusing. The reader was clearly joking about using tongs, but here Miss Manners seems to be saying to actually go for it. This whole thing sounds like that episode of Seinfeld where everyone starts eating candy bars with a knife and fork, frankly. Does anyone have any idea what these people are going on about?

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