I’m not much of a cereal guy now, but when I was a kid I could easily knock back two or three bowls on a Saturday morning while watching cartoons. If we ran out of milk, I’d substitute juice, pop, or even water—none of which I’d recommend, but my palate has never been terribly refined. All that mattered was that the cereal became soggy enough to not shred the roof of my mouth. Eating dry cereal very well may be one of the punishments Dante neglected to mention in his celebration of torture: Inferno.
While I grew up with the standard staple of cereal brands, like Chex, Fruit Loops, Rice Krispies and Frosted Flakes, there is apparently a whole world of now defunct cereal brands that beg to be known. It’s like suddenly, without any prior knowledge, finding out that dinosaurs existed. What did the look like? Did they flock together like birds, or sit in trees and wait to poop on things walking below? Luckily, we do have commercials for our distantly vanished breakfast favourites.
I know what you’re thinking, and it’s low hanging fruit (pun within a joke?). Lasting only 3 years on store shelves (1965-68), Banana Wackies contained some sort of banana bits, likely similar to the rock-hard marshmallows you’d find in Lucky Charms. Unfortunately, further history around this bizarre cereal has faded over time. The only thing we do know is that the kid on the box looks like he’s either having a sugar-induced seizure or needs to hit the loo—maybe both.
I would surmise by their shape and colour that Body Buddies are just another variety of Corn Pops. Touted as some kind of super food for children, Body Buddies sadly came with nutrition guides instead of toys. They may have been ahead of their time by focusing on health rather than high doses of sugar and artificial flavours, though without nutritional proof, and knowing how these companies operate, it’s safe to assume that the contents of the box were in no way different than every other breakfast cereal promising heightened energy.
Chocolate Flavoured Donutz
Kids are, if anything, gullible. In this case, dubious marketers keyed in on the round shape of Cheerios and, adding chocolate flavouring, pretended they were miniature donuts. In an edgy move not often seen until the 90’s and 2000’s, they even substituted the final S on their name with a Z. Also, am I being led to believe that powdered is a flavour?
Ever wondered what to eat after being abducted and probed by aliens? Should you find yourself the morning after, sitting on a soft cushion at the kitchen table, look no further than E.T. Cereal. They really pushed the envelope on this one, between the utter lack of fear those children have upon seeing an extraterrestrial craft landing, to having the cereal itself shaped like E’s and T’s. At least they didn’t shape the stuff like E.T. fingers.
Speaking of fingers, Fingos touted something so original that no one had ever done it before—except every single person who poured a bowl of cereal and then ate some before adding milk, or simply reached into a box and bare-handed cereal into their mouth. The mascot on the commercial comes across a little too much like a drug-peddler, assuring you that it’s super cool and everyone’s tried it. I dare say these highly chokeable food chunks didn’t last for a reason, and not just because they’re something more like chip or cracker than cereal.
Kaboom might not even be appropriate for a mock commercial anymore. At one time in the world’s history, when we the US military was kicking ass all over the world and the nuclear age was at its peak, a cereal based around explosives was super appropriate for tots and teens of all ages. What a hyperactive clown has to do with all of it I’m not sure, besides making the contents of the box appropriate for kids.
Nowadays we hide the ingredients of our worst foods with fancy industry jargon. Not Sugar Jets, they gave away that secret right on the damn box. The announcer even assures us that Sugar Jets are real food! Just look at how the kids chow down and then take off with energy, later followed by lethargy and tantrums. And imagine the dental nightmare to come—it’s a wonder children exited the 50’s and 60’s with teeth left in their heads.
Sugar Rice Krinkles
I tried to save the best and worst for last. It only felt appropriate that I should stumble upon this mere days after watching a trailer for the newest big-screen iteration of Stephen King’s It. The clown in the commercial even touts a similar type of language, telling us to “Krinkle on down to the store” to get some–which is one small step from saying: “We all krinkle down here.” Like with our last example, there’s no hiding what the Post Cereal company purchased in bulk to sprinkle all over those krinkles.
It sure seems like we’ve come far in excising the visual, not to mention labelled nature of sweeteners in our food. Do you have fond memories of any cereals past? Does your granola and yogurt just not quench some deep, crystal meth-like desire for that sweet, sweet sucrose?
Featured image credit: Reader’s Digest