Comedian Finds Shrimp Tails in Box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Starts a Saga With General Mills

On Monday, Jensen Karp opened a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, hoping to enjoy a bowl of the General Mills cereal. Instead, the comedian and writer received an unpleasant—and uniquely crustacean—surprise.

Documented in a now-viral Twitter thread, Karp shared an image highlighting the unusual contents of his cereal box. Alongside the popular cereal's signature cinnamon-sugar squares were two objects that bear a striking resemblance to shrimp tails. Accompanying the photo, Karp wrote, "Ummmm @CTCSquares - why are there shrimp tails in my cereal? (This is not a bit)."

Ummmm @CTCSquares - why are there shrimp tails in my cereal? (This is not a bit)

— Jensen Karp (@JensenKarp) March 22, 2021

The Cinnamon Toast Crunch Twitter account, @CTCSquares, responded to Karp directly.

"We're sorry to see what you found!" they wrote. "We would like to report this to our quality team and replace the box. Can you please send us a DM to collect more details? Thanks!"

In response, Karp tweeted, "I am not sure I'm ready for another box!!!" Meanwhile, the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Twitter account reaffirmed its "promise...that our team will look into this and get to the bottom of it."

A few hours later @CTCSquares returned to the thread with their ruling on the issue. According to them, the objects Karp found in the cereal were not shrimp tails but "an accumulation of the cinnamon sugar that sometimes can occur when ingredients aren't thoroughly blended." They claim "there's no possibility of cross-contamination with shrimp" in their product.

Karp responded with further photo evidence that the objects he found in his cereal were, in fact, shrimp tails—not accumulations of cinnamon and sugar.

Ok, we’ll after further investigation with my eyes, these are cinnamon coated SHRIMP TAILS, you weirdos. I wasn’t all that mad until you now tried to gaslight me?

— Jensen Karp (@JensenKarp) March 22, 2021

The saga continued through the evening. In a screenshot of a DM sent to Karp by @CTCSquares, readers can see the brand asking Karp to mail them the specimens for "a closer look." Karp stated that he will mail one but keep the other, in case they once again try to dismiss the objects as cinnamon-sugar byproducts.

Later, Karp investigated the remaining contents of his Cinnamon Toast Crunch box, one of two in a family pack, which he had already eaten from. He also opened the second box in the pack to see if there were any additional findings. Across the two boxes, Karp discovered several items including what appeared to be string, dental floss, and multiple squares of cereal with black specks seemingly baked into them.

For real - someone tell me they aren’t like maggots or bugs. Is it shrimp adjacent? (also just found this weird cinnamon covered pea thing?)
I wish this was a joke.

— Jensen Karp (@JensenKarp) March 22, 2021

While Cinnamon Toast Crunch and General Mills haven't provided any substantive explanations for Karp's findings, the Twitter community developed theories of their own.

User @AdamWall626 offered support to Karp's initial claim that he found shrimp tails in the cereal, writing, "Hey I study crustaceans at the Natural History Museum in LA, those do look a bit like a shrimp's telson & uropods—tail."

Another user, @ljc062179, suspected the black marks baked into some of the squares were "mouse or rat droppings."

"Guaranteed they made a home in a bag of flour or other raw ingredient and all of the shrimp, string and everything else is their scavenged items," they said.

As of Tuesday morning, Karp provided an update to his followers, writing, "I feel fine. I am going to get the black stuff tested today." He added, "Most importantly, nothing new from General Mills since they asked me to send them the shrimp tails that they had tried to convince me was sugar." It remains to be seen how General Mills and Cinnamon Toast Crunch will address the controversy.

Cereal Aisle General Mills
General Mills owns several popular cereal brands, including Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images