Just when I thought that I’d mined nostalgia from every conceivable source, in swoops this:
My buddy Paul generously donated his copy of Connections For Health, an academic textbook (or whatever) from 1986. Its 500 pages offer very little of note, but Paul noticed something awesome on page 79:
An absolutely godly photo of 1980s cereals.
That particular chapter dealt with nutrition, and how people were so often unaware that they were eating garbage. The cereal photo was only there to warn people about the copious amounts of sugar they’d been mindlessly munching, but I know stupid treasure when I see it.
(Click here to see it bigger!)
Though the book was published in 1986, I’m certain that the photo was taken in ‘84 or ‘85. The shot doesn’t appear to have been dummied up for the book, either — that’s a legit cereal aisle from a legit 1980s supermarket, making the spread ten times as genuine and twenty times cooler.
I enjoy many of today’s cereals, but judging by this photo, it’s clear that breakfast peaked a long ass time ago. I mean, that’s practically a 1985 Toys “R” Us in cereal form. Child advertising standards had yet to fully evolve, and besides, the cereals of the ‘80s tasted way more like out and out candy. It was a golden era. A Super Golden era.
Here’s a closer look at the oaty highlights:
Quaker Halfsies had half the sugar of most cereals — duh, that’s how it got its name. I’m positive that I’ve never eaten it. My parents weren’t the types to keep tabs on sugar, and without stern encouragement, there was no way I would’ve picked this over Lucky Charms.
Corn Pops is still around today, of course. I’m only mentioning it because I totally recognize that prize: It’s the Wacky Wall Walker, one of the best cereal premiums of all time! (Sticky octopuses that “magically” walked down walls after being violently flung towards them. Similar toys were sold at retail, but people my age mostly remember them because of Kellogg’s.)
This short-lived cereal flew under my radar as a kid, so I can’t rate it. It sounds like something that would’ve made your milk taste like a Creamsicle, though. Up to you to determine if that’s good or gross.
It’s strange that this mystery market carried Franken Berry and Boo Berry, but not Count Chocula. 99% of the time, it was the other way around. I can only assume that the store sold out of Count Chocula before Connection For Health’s photographer did his little bootleg shoot. It’s not implausible. Back then, Count Chocula tasted like hot cocoa and Snickers bars.
Neat bit of trivia: Though they’re not precise matches, the Target-exclusive “retro boxes” from 2014 looked a heck of a lot like the ones shown here!
This was back when Cap’n Crunch was running his “Crunch Island” promotion, which if memory serves had something to do with a giant, fold-out map that came free inside specially marked boxes. (An oddly common gimmick within 1980s cereal promotions!)
Mr. T Cereal!
Many are only familiar with Mr. T Cereal because of its cameo in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, so if you were ever under the impression that it was some “prop cereal” fabricated for a big screen gag, NOPE. (Really attractive box on this one, too. If I told you that it only contained Colorforms, you’d probably believe me.)
Despite its frequent appearances on “foods I miss” lists, Quisp is still around, and in fact has only rarely not been around since its 1960s debut. Quisp may have been the first semi-retired foodstuff to find a second life thanks to the internet. I remember buying this stuff online in the early 2000s, and feeling like I’d found the Ark of the Covenant because of it.
Cabbage Patch Kids!
The pieces were made to look like the heads of Cabbage Patch Kids, so depending on your point of view, eating them was either an act or worship or a declaration of war.
Cracker Jack Cereal!
It sounds sketchy, but it so wasn’t. I’d liken Cracker Jack Cereal to Reese’s Puffs with extra caramel. Sounds passable, no? (Knowing where his bread was buttered, ol’ Jack made sure to toss in the same sorts of secret prizes that made his popcorn so successful.)
Donkey Kong Junior!
I LOVED this stuff as a kid. It marked one of the only times that I gave the threat of artificial banana flavoring a pass. The boxes just looked like the perfect midpoint between “toy” and “video game,” and I distinctly remember treating them with psychotic reverence.
Rainbow Brite Cereal still has quite a following, and it’s easy to see why. The colors were seriously blazing, to the point where anyone who ate this simply must’ve experienced rainbow excrement. Nothing in today’s cereal market comes close to being this colorful.
Thanks again to Paul for mailing me this weird old book!
PS: Last call for Dino Drac’s May Funpack! They ship out next week!