I have an ongoing love affair with cereal.
It’s not just that it is the easiest breakfast food (unless you count Pop-Tarts), but growing up with tv in the 70s & 80s, well, those cereal box icons are my friends! Even if some were ones my mother wouldn’t let come over to our house...
Like Kabooms. Obnoxiously colored wheels of goodness, my mother, who worked at night in a bar/restaurant, complained that just looking at the bowl made her head hurt... The clown also was too much. (Ironically, this is the only clown to date which has not made me scared, but that’s another story.) So, one box and Kabooms could no longer come over to our house. *sigh* I really missed those bright turquoise, purple & read wheels in the mornings - the color & sugar is what woke me up!
Years passed, and I, along with many others in the world, thought Kabooms were a thing of the past, no longer made. Then, on my first solo-shopping trip to the grocery store here in Fargo, I saw them. There on the shelf, packaging a bit modernized, but they existed! I swear I broke into a sweat. The worst part was, I only had enough cash on me to buy some ‘essentials’ and cereal wasn’t on that short 2 item list... But I came home pretty jazzed.
So went looking for them the next trip. However, only that store carries them... we have plans to go back & get them. Soon.
But, in my long, slow, gazing at each box on the shelves, I rediscovered a few old friends I had forgotten about...
One was King Vitamin. Basically, the stuff tastes like Capn’ Crunch, the original, less colorful, ok, bland version. I had not seen it in years, and assumed the Captain had won out afterall. (See what happens when you assume?)
What I remember of King Vitamin, was that other kids just seemed to think it was the cheaper ‘generic’ version of Capn’ Crunch, and sorta looked down on you if you ate it.
I don’t know exactly why he wasn’t cool. They both has a slew of other characters - each commercial acting like a mini Saturday morning cartoon, with plots & an evil nemesis... Both were/are made by Quaker Oats too... Who knew? But one was cool, the other wasn’t.
And I remember when they went from cartoon king to a human one. Sucked it did. If this was their attempt to look better than the Capn’, they too realized it didn’t work, and did go back to the cartoon king. However, I can't remember the last time I saw a commercial for this cereal, let alone a cool animated mini-series... But that goes for most of them, come to think of it...
I miss having that 'Saturday morning tv' feeling for breakfast, don't you?
Another long lost favorite of mine was Boo Berry. Also rumored to no longer be manufactured, and quite possibly an on-again-off-again cereal, Boo Berry still does exist today! (Often with cool premiums too!) Though he has has quite a few transformations (I like the old original one best), but more on that later.
My guess is Boo is back by popular demand - he has his own website to prove it.
Part of General Mills monster cereals, Boo Berry was my favorite. (Astonishingly, the bright blue & the tinted milk did not make mother groan.) The five original monster cereals were Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute, and Yummy Mummy; they began in the 70s. In the late 80's Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo Berry were made into "less scary" creatures while Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy were discontinued altogether.
As you can see, cereals & their packaging is under constant changes, all with the eye on corporate profits.
In general, that’s ok with me. But occasionally, when I see something like this, I have to wonder...
Lucky Charms, with all green charms? Ok, for St Patty’s day, right? Maybe. But General Mills has decided to name them ‘Spring’ - I am guessing this is to make sure no consumers freak if on March 31st they still see boxes on the shelves...
I am not a huge fan of Lucky Charms. But we both were born in 1964. Lucky Charms was the first cereal to include marshmallow pieces, technically called "marbits." (Marbits were invented by John Holahan in 1963 - apparently it took a full year to find a use for them!)
And Lucky Charms & I have been through many, many changes. For a more complete look at the history of Lucky Charms, visit here.
The first real commercial cereal foods were created by the American Seventh-day Adventists. Strict vegetarians, the Adventists manufactured, promoted, and sold wholesome cereals in the mid 1800s. And most of you know all about Will Keith Kellogg (and if you didn’t, you ought to read the book or watch the movie!)
I am sure both the Adventists & Mr Kellogg would cringe at what has become of their precious health foods now.
But maybe they just needed television?
Some collect Wheaties for the sports legacy, some for celebrities (human & animated), others look for remnants of days gone past...
You can learn a lot about our culture by studying cereals. (Hey, if it helps me rationalize my quest for sweet goodness, so be it!)