WARREN - As a child growing up in the 1960s, Marty Gitlin enjoyed trying different brands of cereals and watching the different television commercials and cereal spokescharacters.
Since then, he has spent much of his life reading and learning about cereals.
The Cleveland-area resident and sportswriter collaborated with Topher Ellis, a cereal expert and editor of the cereal newsletter ''The Boxtop'' to create the recently published ''The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got its Crunch.''
The book combines breakfast cereal history and lore, celebrating the most recognizable brands and the characters which have become pop-culture icons of the 20th century. The book includes the manufacturer, year the cereal was launched, main ingredients, related cereals, spokes character, slogan and facts about the cereal.
"The spokescharacters were the most fun. There were so many good ones,'' Gitlin said, noting his favorites include Cap'n Crunch, Count Chocula, Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit.
He lists as his favorite cereals as Fruit Loops, followed by Alpha-Bits, Coco Crispy and Cheerios.
Gitlin said when he was a boy in the 1960s, he vowed to consume at least one bowl of every cereal on the market, including a banana-flavored Wackies cereal. He ate one bowl and threw out the rest.
''I knew that being banana-flavored, I wouldn't like it but wanted to try it anyway,'' he said.
Cereal is part of people's daily and weekly routines, he said. It's second only to milk and soda in supermarket spending, he said.
Gitlin and Ellis provide behind-the-scene stories and the creation of the cereals with pictures of cereal boxes, ads and memorabilia. More than 15 years went into the book with researching, trips to the grocery stores, conversations with cereal manufactures and character and box design artists, Gitlin said.
"It was my remembrance and feelings about cereals that inspired me to write this book," he said.
The book has received national attention and featured in Time Magazine, Reader's Digest, and Wall Street Journal.
The 368-page book published by Abrams includes 350 images of cereal boxes. It cost $19.95 and is available at amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.
Gitlin is a freelance sportswriter who has covered Cleveland Browns and Indians, and has won many writing awards, including first place for General Excellence in Journalism from The Associated Press.