Breakfast Cereal brands that didn’t stand the test of time
After yesterday’s post on Laser-Engraved Corn Flakes, and Beg to Differ took a look at the Wikipedia list of breakfast cereals and noticed just how many of these cereals failed for one reason or another. Either they were meant to promote a short-lived movie, prostate character, ed or cartoon, or given names that became liabilities for other reasons, or they were just hilariously bad ideas.
15 breakfast cereal brands we’ll never see again
1) Bill & Ted’s Excellent Cereal – Ralston (1989)
A short-lived cereal based on the equally short-lived Saturday morning cartoon of the late 1980s starring a pair of teenaged slackers – one of whom was a very young Keanu Reeves. Funny, he never made the cereal aisle again with subsequent movies. Perhaps Dangerous Liaisons Crunch? The Devil’s Advocate Loops? Matrix Flakes?
2) Baron von Redberry & Sir Grapefellow – General Mills (1972)
Interesting concept. These two characters were set up as mortal enemies – World War I flying aces in a dogfight for breakfast-table supremacy. They both spiraled down in flames, but you have to admire the effort.
This of course was a cereal based on the Star Wars character, C-3PO. I remember seeing this one on the supermarket shelf. Why the fussy, anally retentive protocol droid and not Leia Cinnamon Bun Crunch or Wookie Pops? Who can say.
Tag line: “A Crunchy New Force at Breakfast”
4) Cocoa Hoots – Kellogg’s (1972)
This cereal was described on the box a “sweetened chocolate flavored cereal – fortified with 8 essential vitamins”. Its mascot was named Newton The Owl.
But is it just me, or is there a striking resemblance to the logo of a certain chain of restaurants?
5) Crazy Cow – General Mills (Late 1970s)
To me, this name is an odd duck – or perhaps a weird heifer? The idea is that it would turn your milk a “crazy” artificial pink colour. But as if that weren’t appetizing enough, I’m pretty sure after the Mad Cow scare of a few years back, this one won’t be making a comeback any time soon…
6) Dunkin’ Donuts Cereal – Ralston (1988)
The brand connection between the chain of adult focused coffee-and-donut stores and a kid-oriented breakfast cereal is a bit of a stretch. Particularly in 1988, when I would have expected this to taste like Styrofoam, day-old coffee, and cigarette ashes. Mmm.
Tag line: “Crunchy little donuts with a great big taste!” Two varieties: Glazed Style and Chocolate.
7) Flutie Flakes–General Mills (1998-2001)
Named for quarterback Doug Flutie, these ones actually lasted quite a while, and the cereal became an ironic pop-culture hit – with a box appearing in the background on Seinfeld for example.
Wikipedia also notes that Flutie Flakes became the subject of a minor controversy in January 1999 when after Doug blew a playoff game against the Dolphins, Miami Dolphins‘ head coach Jimmy Johnson poured Flutie Flakes on the ground and invited his team to stomp on them. This made Flutie very angry.
8 ) Freakies – Ralston (1972-1976)
Very elaborate product line and character universe, but a fairly sizable flop for Ralston’s first attempt at sugary breakfast cereal. But even today, you can order T-Shirts from this Freakies fan site: http://www.freakies.com/
9) Mr. T Cereal – Quaker Oats
As a famous man once said: I pity the fool that ridicules this cereal. So I’ll let another famous man introduce this cereal to you (and the other denizens of his demented playhouse).
Pee-Wee Herman eats Mr. T cereal
10) Mud & Bugs – Kellogg’s/Disney (2003-2006)
Mmmm. Tasty. I’m going to award this one the “Least Appetizing Name” award. Of course, it’s a promotional tie-in worked out with the Disney merchandising folks and meant to promote the launch of the Lion King franchise.
And yes, I can see the “gross-out-mom” appeal of “Mud & Bugs”. But even as a kid who loved grossing out mom, the name alone would inspire me to skip breakfast entirely.
11) Nickelodeon Green Slime Cereal – General Mills (2003)
Sorry, I take back the Least Appetizing Name award and give it to this You Can’t Do That on Television spin-off. Funny though, that this would have come after the lifespan of the show – with the golden era of You Can’t being the late 1980’s.
12) Nintendo Cereal System – Ralston/Nintendo – (1988-1989)
For a commercial product tie-in, the name and “System” concept are creative, different. We like that. Here’s how Wikipedia describes the “system”:
“The cereal box was divided in half. One side, called Super Mario Bros. Action Series, had fruity-flavoured Marios, Super Mushrooms,Goombas, Koopa Troopas, and Bowsers, and the other, called Zelda Adventure Series, had berry-flavored Links, hearts, boomerangs, keys, and shields.”
13) Punch Crunch – (Quaker Oats) (1970s)
Cap’n Crunch apparently had a few spin-0ffs, including this violent-sounding sidekick. The “Punch” refers to the fruit-punch-flavour of these cereal rings. The mascot was a hippopotamus named Harry in sailor duds, who actually does some villain crunching in the old commercial below.
Commercial for Punch Crunch:
How did this kid ever get a cereal? Named for Steve Urkel – the supremely annoying fictional character on the ABC/CBS comedy sitcom Family Matters, portrayed by Jaleel White, this one was mercifully short-lived and now we have only the commercials on YouTube to remember how close we came to the end of civilization as we know it.
Commercial for Urkel O’s
15) Yummy Mummy – General Mills (1987-1992)
Funny, I’m married to one of these. But this cereal probably predated the wide use of the term for a nice-looking female with children. Also known as “Fruity Yummy Mummy”s, this cereal was part of the same cereal family as Count Chocula and Franken Berry.
From Mr. Breakfast.com: Yummy Mummy was a “fruit flavor frosted cereal with vanilla flavor marshmallows”. The yellow marshmallow pieces seemed to resemble the shape of a head. On some of the cereal boxes, they were referred to as “monster mallows”. The other cereal pieces were red and orange. They may have also been intended to resemble heads, but the primarily circular nuggets with two slits in the center looked more like colorful little pig snouts.
Enjoyed this, mainly because old breakfast cereals fascinate me – the ET cereal, Pink Panther Flakes, Quisp, Quake, Smurfberry Crunch, etc. FYI/TMI: When Franken Berry was first introduced, the dye they used didn’t break down, so it turned kids’ waste pink, and they had to reformulate it.
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
Yes, this was fun to explore for that reason. These brands are such an interesting intersection of childhood nostalgia, cartoon memories, and crass commercialism. ET, Smurfberry, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and my old Calvin and Hobbes favourite Frosted Sugar Bombs. All on the cutting room floor.
As for the TMI on FrankenPoop, thanks. No really. Thanks.
We were living in Rochester, NY ’97-’00. Flutie Flakes were big! At some points stores had trouble keeping them in stock, and there were jokes about forecasting how Flutie would play based on sales of the cereal.
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
It reminds me of the hype surrounding the Reggie candy bar from the seventies – although this site has a few other gems – check the Rambo Black Flack bubble gum: (http://www.candywrappermuseum.com/reggiejackson.html).
Mark Belletrutti says
From what I remember, Flutie Flakes were also for a good cause with a large portion of the sales going to Autism research (Flutie’s son has Autism).
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
It’s true. Which is purportedly why Flutie got so angry when the Dolphins trampled his cereal on the ground. Although he was also losing a football game badly at the time…
Nice way to slip in the compliment about your wife 😉 Seriously, this post got me thinking about other products that I used to see and see no more: chocolate flavoured bubblegum and the peanut butter filled pretzels. Rather than branding mishaps, however, I think these might have been taste combination mishaps. (Though I enjoyed them…)
Dennis Van Staalduinen says
Re. Complimenting my wife. Not hard to do actually. She’s pretty yummy. And in today’s post I stuck in an unsollicted reference to our upcoming third child. I’m shameless really.
Re. bizarre products / taste combos: Not sure if you’ve seen this product that’s a frequent guest on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, but it’s pretty high on my “what were they thinking” list: http://www.baconnaise.com/