It may be brantastic, but I'm not a horse

My brand of high fibre bran sticks is called Brantastix. Not only are they not fantastic as their name would suggest but adding "tastix" to "bran" is a bit like adding awesome to the end of torture, or suffixing genocide with delightful.

A bowl of Brantastix in the morning is the culinary equivalent of being ripped apart by lions, except that lions are not as sadistic and once they rip your throat out it's all reasonably pleasant.

High fibre bran sticks were originally designed for horses and given to them when they were naughty. It is usually a once in a lifetime punishment and the avoidance of ever experiencing it again remains the motivation for some of the world's great gallopers.

Unfortunately, high fibre bran sticks made the jump to humans at some point during the heady grow-at-home sprout revolution of 1973. That was when a bright spark realised humans were perfectly willing to ingest broken glass and rat faeces if they thought it had a health benefit.

From that point it wasn't a big leap to conclude there was money to be made in high fibre bran sticks and so was born one of the world's most successful breakfast cereals. There are now dozens of brands of high fibre bran sticks, all of which actually promote the puritan disgustingness of their product as if it were a good thing.

High fibre bran sticks look a lot like a dried worm would if it had died after gorging itself on the bottom left corner of a mangy 12-year-old hay bale. They are largely impermeable to milk and nuclear explosions and swallowing a spoonful or two is the same as paying a Victorian chimney sweep to give your small intestine a thorough going over. Eat a bowl's worth and you've basically scoured out your entire internal workings and are now a hollow shell.

The people who buy bran sticks fall into two categories. There are those who hate themselves but lack the courage for external self- flagellation and there are men who one day realise they are approaching middle age and can no longer act like they are 15.

Scientists are still unsure why their immediate reaction to this epiphany is to purchase high fibre bran sticks but early research indicated wives or partners may influence the choice with such phrases as "well, you used to fit those pants" and "gosh, you've just got so cuddly lately".

I went for Brantastix because it is made by Hubbards and they are a cereal brand I've come to trust. Brantastix also has the added bonus of being infused with apple juice, New Zealand apple juice.

In my high fibre naivety I imagined this would make them more palatable and there was a small chance it could even make them delicious. It does not. They are absolutely revolting. There is nothing nice I can say about them but this: Horror movies used to be the one thing that made me squeamish. Their reign is over. My stomach has a new nemesis.

It's only been a week but the learning curve with high fibre bran sticks is steep. Here is what I know - bran sticks are a dominant and bullish ingredient. Mix bran sticks with yoghurt and you have not got bran sticks and yoghurt. You have just got white coloured bran sticks that are now very angry. If you think adding half a can of peaches to the mix will drown the bran out you are sadly mistaken. All you have done is made it even angrier and it will react by even being more offensive than normal.

Uniquely, for a cereal, a high fibre bran stick does not want to be swallowed. To get it down you must chew each spoonful for 27 minutes and then use your garden hose to wash it into the back of your throat. Once it's there it will cling to the soft internal lining of your esophagus for another 27 minutes before giving up and entering your stomach. It's supposed to be worth it.

Studies have shown a diet high in fibre helps reduce the risk of digestive and bowel diseases, stabilises blood glucose levels, assists in weight loss and can even lower cholesterol, whatever that means. Fibre is also essential for regularity, though on this point I see no benefit. Life is predictable enough as it is.

The downside of a high fibre bran stick breakfast is you don't want to get out of bed in the morning. In fact, you don't even want to go to bed at night knowing when you wake it is not bacon and eggs or perhaps a delicious piece of toast that awaits you, but a bowl of wheat chaff.

And because sleep is so important to a healthy life I don't think I'll be buying Brantastix again. Naughty as that may seem it is probably worth noting at this stage that I am a man, not a horse.

Taranaki Daily News