The ideal Saturday for a kid used to be sitting down to cartoons with a big bowl of sugary cereal. Who could blame us? Manufacturers used to make cereal jam-packed with sugars, using mascots with cartoon tie-ins and secret decoder rings and prizes to get our attention and money — they were perfectly targeted towards children. They still are, don’t get us wrong, but at least we’re aware of how bad some kids’ cereal is now.
Back then, it was a total warzone where competing manufacturers were doing whatever they could to win over the market. Brands like Cap’n Crunch and Froot Loops won big, but some of the cereals companies tried to market weren’t so great. In fact, they were downright bizarre some of the time. Here are the worst examples.
Born from an assumption that children are enthralled with space stuff, this highly artificial cereal featured space-themed shapes and cheap bottom-of-the-box prizes. Children who ate this cereal also had to find a way to reconcile a belief in a race of moon people who where responsible for producing the cereal, while saving children from the evil Moonbums.
The was one of the cereal experiments to never grasp the concept of sugar as an unwanted aspect of a healthy child’s breakfast. It was sugar-coated corn flakes just like the ads said. Very, very, very sweet, corn flakes.
Starting in 1965 commercials, Wackies promoted banana-flavored marshmallow as a good thing. The ads were pure genius, but had nothing to do with the cereal itself. An entire generation was raised on bingles, jangles, gloops, glots, and whatever else General Mills could screw up.
The concept of a punch-flavored cereal from the beloved Cap’n Crunch seems incredible. The result, however, was unpalatable. Harry S. Crunch the Hippo was a loveable mascot, but no one ever figured out what the taste of “pink” was exactly.
In the tradition of the Frankenberry, and Count Chocula, Sir Grapefellow was more of an image than a tasty meal. Grape marshmallows were bad enough. The Baron RedBerry and Sir Grapefellow’s private WWI rivalry seemed to be too much for kids in the 70s to handle.
This OK-tasting oat cereal had OK cut-out prizes on the box. OK Scottish bodybuilders graced the front of each box, and everything at a 50s breakfast was OK. Yogi Bear eventually took over as mascot, flavors were added, and the name changed to Fruit Loops, OK?
These were the second attempt at a descriptively neutral cereal by General Mills. Originally, the magic puffs were filled with a mysterious cream. When the talking hat mascot took over, and the puffs dried-out, the cereal became even more…gross!
The Quisp mascot was the alien portion of the 60s cereal duo of Quisp and Quake. This oat cereal has a mysterious sweet flavor, but was dubbed “the cereal the can’t be kept down.” This could have referred to millions of young stomachs trying to process a cereal whose only true success was a vintage set of online auction limited edition toys.
Mr. Wonderfull’s Suprize
Mr. Wonderfull’s Surprize was a crispie with a chewy chocolate center. During packaging, the crispies tended to burst, and dry chocolate globs settled to the bottom of the box. Surprise, Mr. Wonderfull was a dud.
This was another short-lived addition to the monster mascot General Mills line. The breakfast-loving werewolf was a great way to get kids to want breakfast. Unfortunately, the Fruit Brute ads became more violent than informative, and kids were scared away.
Bixby Beaver was a genuine General Mills mascot creation with little cultural appeal. This cereal never set itself apart from other oddly-shaped kids foods. Perhaps Sugar Sticks, or Tempting Twiggs would have been better.
The alien goblins Gargle, Cowmumble, Grumble, Hamhose, Snorkeldorf, Goody-Goody and their leader Boss Moss were the fantastical makers of this cereal. Their cereal tree was magic and the center of Freakies fun. With each year, Freakies became less freakish and consequently less desirable as breakfast companions.
Grins and Smiles and Giggles and Laughs
Cecil the GSGL machine could only produce cereal when he was ticked-off. This isn’t the best idea to get kids to eat a healthy breakfast. The mythos behind the cereal was far beyond and ultimately overblown for what it took to get parents to buy it.
Prince of Thieves
The natural fruit flavors and multicolored sprinkles were consistent with other popular cereals of the time, but they had nothing to do with The Prince Thieves. This cereal promoted a character that was famous for stealing and shooting arrows. It’s no wonder that parents opted for other, less dangerous brands.
The original concept was a chocolate prehistoric fantasy land. What the public got was a goofy band of Dino food servers hopping in-and-out of one of their friends who had been converted into a makeshift cafe. Each colored cereal Dino tasted the same as all the others. After trademark problems, this cereal quickly became extinct!