CIA Boss Michael Hayden Chokes on Cereal Quiz

CIA chief Michael Hayden probably wishes he was more of a breakfast guy.


By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers.

We still don't know if CIA boss Michael Hayden will stay on as Barack Obama's top spy, but one thing became very clear over the weekend: Hayden's not headed to Battle Creek, Mich., America's "Cereal City." Hayden appeared on NPR's popular Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me ! this weekend and didn't get the questions about the Pittsburgh Steelers he hoped for. Instead, he faced three historical questions about cereal—and failed them all. "Oh my, I'm not doing very well," he said.

Still, he showed humor and humility on the show known to interview then stump major public figures. Spokesman Mark Mansfield said, "Director Hayden deals with tough, complex issues every day, but he's a good sport and keeps his perspective." Still, 0-3? Says Mansfield, "Our spies clearly didn't see the quiz questions in advance. The history of breakfast cereal clearly isn't his field of expertise. If he were asked about the city of Pittsburgh, sports, or good rock-and-roll, he would have aced it."

Here is his quiz transcript:

Host Peter Sagal: All right. Breakfast cereal was first marketed, of course, by W.K. Kellogg. He was challenged by the upstart C.W. Post. Post started advertising his products, which was a daring move at the time. So Kellogg came back with what successful campaign for his Corn Flakes? Was it: A) He took out ads telling women to quote, "Wink at your grocer and see what you get," unquote? Was it B) The slogan "It pleases the mouth and cleanses the bowels,"? or was it C) He took out ads claiming that cows who were fed Corn Flakes gave twice as much milk, so why not try it yourself?

HAYDEN: None of those sound especially attractive. Ok, I'll go with B.

SAGAL: You're going to go with B) "It pleases the mouth and cleanses the bowels,"?


SAGAL: No, actually it was A.


SAGAL: Women were encouraged to wink at their grocer. In a promotional scheme, if they winked at their grocer, the grocer would turn and hand them a free box of Corn Flakes.

HAYDEN: Oh my goodness.

SAGAL: .which they would then try. It was a huge thing. They sold millions of boxes. All right, you're still all right.


SAGAL: Next question: With more and more cereals appearing on the market, marketers of cereal tried using distinctive names to catch the consumer's eye, such as which of these: Was it A) Rolled E.O. Poly Holy Oats, B) McKenzie's Vim and Vigor-Restoring Wheat Fragments, or C) University Brand Daintily-Crisped Flaked Corn?

HAYDEN: Ha, ah, I'm going to go with A, Peter.

SAGAL: Going to go with A) Rolled E.O. Poly Holy Oats.


SAGAL: You are the Director of?

HAYDEN: Currently, CIA.

SAGAL : She had that bad chest cold, but is recovering and getting out each

SAGAL: So you know stuff.


SAGAL: You find out stuff.

HAYDEN: But apparently not this stuff.

SAGAL: I'm just going to. Actually no, it was C. It was University Brand Daintily-Crisped Flaked Corn.

HAYDEN: Oh my. I'm not doing very well.

SAGAL: No, not at all.

HAYDEN: I'm sorry.

SAGAL: Last question though. Here's your last question. See if you can get this one. A now-forgotten cereal called Force introduced the first cereal mascot, "Sunny Jim." A gentleman in a top hat became a huge hit. So other cereals rushed to create their own mascots, including this maybe ill-advised attempt: A) The box for the cereal called Elijah's Manna included a picture of the biblical prophet Elijah, B) Toothless Joe cereal featuring a picture of a lovable old silver miner, or C) Teddy Rex's Fortified Chex, a mix of dried corn and walnuts that tried to trade in the image of President Roosevelt.

HAYDEN: I'm going with the president on this one.

SAGAL: You're going to go with, as you often do. You're going to go with Teddy Rex's Fortified Chex?


SAGAL: It was actually Elijah's Manna.

HAYDEN: Oh my goodness. I should have gone with; I should have gone with the holy one.

SAGAL: You should have gone with the holy one, absolutely. Carl, how did Gen. Michael Hayden do on our quiz?

Host Carl Kasell: Well, he had a perfect score Peter—no correct answers!