Cap’n Crunch Not A Captain, May Be French


A scandal is rocking the breakfast cereal world:

Everything we thought we knew about Cap’n Crunch has been a lie.

Upon closer examination, the three stripes on his coat indicate he’s a lower-ranked commander, not a captain.

An attentive Reddit user was the first to make the discovery, but the story has now been picked up on popular food blogs.

With the Napoleon-style hat, you might question whether the stripes on the coat are more emblematic of the French Navy. The French version of Frigate Captain has three stripes, but that translates to ‘commander’ in English.

Either way, Cap’n Crunch is either a fraud or he’s French.

We know for a fact that he’s never been in the U.S. Navy:

The controversy deepened on Wednesday when the Pentagon said it had no record of a Cap’n Crunch ever serving in the U.S. Navy.

“We have no Cap’n Crunch in the personnel records – and we checked,” said Lt. Commander Chris Servello, director of the U.S. Navy’s news desk at the Pentagon. “We have notified NCIS and we’re looking into whether or not he’s impersonating a naval officer – and that’s a serious offense.”

Someone needs to get to the bottom of this, obviously.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. James Joyner says:

    The naval rank “captain” and the title “captain” aren’t necessarily linked. The skipper of an aircraft carrier is both the ship’s captain and a Navy four-striper. But a lieutenant commander (two full stripes and one thin one) might be the captain of a small boat and a commander (three stripes) might command a frigate.

    Outside the Navy, pretty much anyone can be a ship’s captain. The guys who pilot cruise ships typically hold that title, for example.

  2. Jenos Idanian says:

    Well, I can clear up one part of the controversy. In the Navy, “captain” is both a rank and a position. Any commanding officer of a vessel is addressed as “captain,” regardless of actual rank. In the old days, lower-ranked officers were in command of vessels, even lieutenants. So as long as Mr. Crunch was in command of a ship (and he’s been shown on a sailing vessel several times), he is entitled to be called “captain.”

    However, the French aspersions are far more troubling and less easy to explain…

  3. He’s the commanding officer of the S.S. Guppy, therefore based on the explanations above, is fully entitled to be referred to as Cap’n. The true mysteries, IMHO, are why his mustache appears to be growing out of the sides of his nose, and his eyebrows are growing out of his hat.

  4. rodney dill says:

    …in case anyone hadn’t notice he also only has three fingers (not four) and a thumb on each hand, so he’s possibly also some kind of mutant or alien (which doesn’t preclude him being French)

  5. Anderson says:

    He wears his hat athwartships, like Horatio Nelson and Jack Aubrey. No need to demean him as French.

  6. gVOR08 says:

    @rodney dill: Beat me to print. He has the same number of stripes as he has fingers. That makes him a Captain.

  7. rodney dill says:

    @realsaramerica: …and how does he tuck his hat in behind his eyes?

  8. John Peabody says:

    I’m afraid, during the discussion above, the good Captain has become Captain Soggy..

  9. JKB says:

    As others have said, there is the rank, Captain (O-6) and there is the position of commanding officer known as Captain. The rank has little to indicate about the position. Lieutenants (O-3) might be Captain of smaller vessels and non-commissioned officers captain of harbor craft such as tugs. In fact, in the Army which as more vessels than the Navy the Captain of even their largest craft is more likely to be a Warrant Officer. Perhaps with a Captain(O-3) in charge of a group of vessels.

    But if we look back, we see here in the career of David Perry, whose declaration in the Battle of Mobile Bay is renowned:

    1838, placed in command of the sloop Erie.
    8 September 1841, promoted to the rank of commander.
    Mexican-American War, commanded the sloop of war, Saratoga.
    1848 – 1853, duty at Norfolk, Navy Yard in Virginia as Assistant Inspector of Ordinance.
    September 1852 – August 1853, assigned to superintend the testing of the endurance of naval gun batteries at Old Point Comfort at Fort Monroe in Virginia.[27]
    1853 – 1854, duty at Washington, D.C.
    14 September 1855, promoted to the rank of captain.

    And if you look at the photo of Perry at the link, obviously late in his career, I don’t have any clue what an 8 striper is, admiral of something no doubt.

  10. JKB says:

    And isn’t is a sad comment on the knowledge of our military that some redditor thought they’d discovered something significant and others picked it up as interesting. The reason it hadn’t come up before is because the contrast was not really there.

    BTW, in the Navy, being Captain of the cereal barge would not be a good career move for a 4-striper hoping to make flag.

  11. al-Ameda says:

    All of this doesn’t change the fact that Captain Crunch is the cereal recommended by the American Dental Association and 1800Dentist.

  12. Moosebreath says:


    “All of this doesn’t change the fact that Captain Crunch is the cereal recommended by the American Dental Association and 1800Dentist.”

    Nor that making Cap’n Crunch commericals sustained Jay Ward’s lifestyle after Rocky and Bullwinkle and George of the Jungle went off the air.

  13. Surreal American says:

    No need for alarm. Crunch is certain to be promoted , give or take a thousand years:

  14. Franklin says:

    … another childhood fantasy crushed …

    /and thanks for all the laughs, fellow commenters; I’m particularly disturbed by the hat tucked in behind the eyes – that has GOT to hurt.