A captain in name only

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He has commanded breakfast tables for 50 years, but as it turns out, Cap’n Crunch doesn’t technically hold the rank of captain.

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According to the three gold stripes on his uniform sleeve, he should be addressed as Commander Crunch when he’s not on board. Four stripes make a captain.

Captain, U.S. Navy

Astute blogger Charisma Madarang points this out on Foodbeast.com.

“Now, adults and children alike are lamenting the fact that the cheery Santa Claus in a blue Napoleon hat is really just a big, fat LIAR,” Madarang writes with tongue firmly in cheek.

Based on U.S. military insignia, she is correct.

Tracy Saelinger, a contributor to NBC’s “Today” show, picked up on the fun and tracked down cereal expert Marty Gitlin, co-author of “The Great American Cereal Book,” who said he can’t believe no one has spotted this before. Cap’n Crunch was launched by Quaker Oats in 1963.

“My assumption is that Quaker will give him another stripe or rename him Commander Crunch. They should have a ceremony where he gets his captain stripe — and probably sell lots of Cap’n Crunch cereal in the process,” Gitlin told “Today.”

But Quaker says that isn't likely, according to Saelinger.

"We don’t feel [the fourth stripe is] necessary — the Cap’n is, after all, a Cap’n, as he mans the S.S. Guppy," a spokesman told Today.com. "And it’s the crunch, not the clothes, that make the man!"

Quaker has a good point.

“An officer in the rank of commander who commands a vessel may also be referred to as ‘captain’ as a courtesy title or informally referred to as ‘skipper,’ ” according to Wikipedia.

“Any naval officer who commands a ship (titled commanding officer, or C.O.) is addressed by naval custom as ‘captain’ while aboard in command, regardless of their actual rank.”