I own many ancient cereal boxes. Most of them live in plastic bins on a high shelf, trapped in cramped quarters with nothing to do except barely breathe. I believe it was the Dino Pebbles, or maybe the Smurfberry Crunch, that contacted me telepathically. “Brother, we need air.”
While I was obliging, I took some photos. Here are five old cereal boxes from my personal collection.
Dino Pebbles Cereal!
This was the first time Post tried something other than the standard “Fruity” or “Cocoa” Pebbles, and they didn’t mess around. As if giving Dino his own brand wasn’t enough of an irresistible novelty, the cereal came loaded with Dino-shaped marshmallows!
The multicolored marshmallows looked enough like Dino, but if you wanted to imagine them as music notes or super evolved Peeps, it wasn’t hard to do.
I especially like how the box shows Fred and Barney hiding behind a giant bowl. It’s as if they’re saying, “Dino, this is your moment.” Those proud papas.
More memorable than the cereal were its TV commercials. To see the flavor of the early ’90s completely captured in thirty seconds, just look at this one. It has everything from skating dinosaurs to an improvised rap!
Like most of Ralston’s “big license” brands, Ghostbusters Cereal was more about the theme than the taste. Mixing fruity symbols with chalky marshmallow ghosts, the cereal was an absolute event. If you were of the right age in the mid ‘80s, choosing another brand felt borderline criminal.
Most tie-in cereals come and go in a flash, but this one lasted for years. Ralston continually remodeled to stay on pace with the franchise’s evolution. There were eventual versions for Ghostbusters II, The Real Ghostbusters, and even Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters. The version shown here is the original, so it sadly lacks the green Slimer marshmallows that would soon become standard.
Why am I suddenly writing as if this was a term paper on American history? Faaaack.
The neat thing about this particular box is the big hologram on the front. Several of Ralston’s tie-in cereals had the same gimmick, but eerie, semi-blurry holograms suited the Ghostbusters better than the Ninja Turtles.
If memory serves, this controversial cereal shocked parents by dyeing their kids’ shit. I’m not speaking metaphorically, even if I must wonder how “dyeing kids’ shit” could possibly work in a metaphorical sense.
As the story went, eating Smurfberry Crunch turned your excrement blue. It’s probably for that reason that Post reintroduced it as Smurf Magic Berries a short time later, free of the blue-dyed corn and oats. I am utterly thrilled by the notion that cobalt cow plop sent Post’s mad scientists back to the drawing board.
The fact that it made your business look like octopus tentacles notwithstanding, this was a must-buy. In the realm of cartoon foodstuffs that we would’ve done anything to try, Smurfberries were right up there with Gummiberry Juice.
Just look at those Smurfs, happily harvesting with their “come hither” eyes. They knew what we wanted.
Fun fact: This is Jay’s favorite cereal.
Candy Corn Pops!
I only learned about this one during X-E’s 2008 Halloween Countdown, but even without the direct nostalgia, it’s still one of my favorite “Halloween cereals” ever.
Mixing yellow and orange pieces that were said to taste like candy corn, the real thrill was the box. Specifically, that crazy lab guy with the pink bouffant and the torn paper teeth. With the right mix of despondence and Drambuie, I’d have my next tattoo.
Tiny Toon Adventures Cereal!
Tiny Toon Adventures debuted when I was in the sixth grade. Everyone at school watched it, but nobody was supposed to talk about it. It didn’t matter how hip Buster and Babs acted. We were in junior high, now.
That was the climate at my school, where any admission to liking things that were okay to like just three months prior was met with the immediate scorn of everyone within earshot.
And so, with that setup, here’s a story.
Sixth grade. Typing class. F, F, F, space, G, G, G, space. Since I hugged a typewriter all throughout childhood, that class was a cakewalk for me. (Well, it was and it wasn’t. I taught myself to type, so my “form” wasn’t at all what the teacher wanted. To get around this, I’d just type really fast when she wasn’t looking.)
One day, our assignment was to type the fifty states. The teacher read them off, one after another, and I think we had to type each of them ten times or something.
She gets up to “Montana,” and we’re all thinking it. Yes, we’re all thinking it, but it took the unfortunate courage of Jessie, sort of the inadvertent class clown, to give voice to our thoughts.
Oh, no. How could she say that?! If you’re unfamiliar with Tiny Toons, Montana Max was one of its few human characters, and I guess one of the antagonists. We all knew who Montana Max was, and we were all thinking about him the second our teacher said “Montana.” Only Jessie was brave enough to actually say it. Loudly. And with so much gusto.
The groans were immediate. The dirty looks came from all directions. Jessie slunk down, mortified. Had she stood up and projectile vomited on the entire class, the reaction would’ve been less severe.
Of course, the great irony is that every kid who blasted her also watched the show. Tiny Toons was brand new; how else would we know what a “Montana Max” was? Poor Jessie. I doubt that stain ever came off.
Jessie, if you’re out there: You weren’t alone. For music appreciation class, we all had to bring in one of our favorite albums. I brought the goddamned Star Wars soundtrack. The teacher played it for the whole class. The whole first song. The twenty thousand minute main title music. I barely made it out alive. I still get the shakes, two and a half decades later.
Anyway, Tiny Toon Adventures cereal. They were essentially Alpha-Bits, but oversized.