My friend Lauren told me to check out Manhunter, the 1986 thriller and first-ever film to feature the Hannibal Lecter character. (Okay, Lecktor, but it was the same guy.)
Many critics didn’t go gaga over Manhunter back then, but I loved it for exactly the same reasons that they hated it. Mixing Harris’s universe with Miami Vice theatrics just worked for me. Plus, I’m not sure I can dislike anything that stars both Tom Noonan and Dennis Farina. The whole movie is full of people I would love to sit next to on a transatlantic flight.
Of course, Lauren’s suggestion had nothing to do with the quality of the film…
See, late in Manhunter, there’s a scene where Will Graham (William Petersen, who rocked IMO) comes clean with his son while they’re out grocery shopping. It’s the traditional father/son chat about losing your mind over horrible murderers, but while Will’s talking about serial killers, the only thing I’m processing is plain old cereal.
This was shot in a legit supermarket — one that hadn’t been redressed to avoid any inadvertent product placement. Thank God! If you pause at just the right moments, you’ll see dozens of old school cereal and snack brands. I shouldn’t need to tell you that I live for this shit.
Below are the frame-by-frame highlights. I believe this scene was filmed in 1985. Click any product title to see its original TV commercial!
#1: Gremlins Cereal!
Lately, it seems like I can’t go three days without mentioning it. I’ll let you scour past Dino Drac reviews for my thoughts on Gremlins Cereal. At this point, what more can I write? I’m all out of happy adjectives.
#2: Rainbow Brite Cereal!
Essentially Trix in a different shape, Rainbow Brite Cereal consisted of tiny edible rainbows in a variety of fruit flavors and colors.
#3: Cabbage Patch Kids Cereal!
The cereal pieces looked a bit like Honeycomb, but with eyes and mouths. I guess they were intended to represent the faces of Cabbage Patch Kids, which was rather macabre from a certain angle, but perfect for a movie costarring a cannibal.
#4: King Vitaman Cereal!
While still in production, today’s version of King Vitaman now features a cartoon mascot, one who pales in comparison to the real life actors of yesteryear. (“Vitaman” isn’t a typo. While the cereal was pushed on its nutritional merits, Quaker wasn’t allowed to use “vitamin” in the title.)
#5: Cap’n Crunch Cereal!
Cap’n Crunch is obviously still around, but that box represents one of the brand’s all time greatest gimmicks. During the “Where’s the Cap’n?” promotion, our hero was absent from his own cereal boxes, replaced with a mysterious silhouette. Kids who helped “find” him had a chance of winning a hundred bucks!
#6: Mr. T Cereal!
More famously known for its appearance in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, Mr. T Cereal also scored a half-second cameo in Manhunter. Who wouldn’t love a bowlful of T-shaped corn? If you raised your hand, Mr. T is waiting with some choice words.
#7: Fruit & Fibre Cereal!
Easily the most ubiquitous cereal of the ‘80s, there were approximately 500 different Fruit & Fibre flavors, each arriving in its own color-coded box. I never tried it as a kid, but I was always impressed by the sheer number of varieties. I grew up with the impression that every adult ate this stuff, as if they were legally bound to.
#8: Frosted Krispies Cereal!
It’s still in production, but seeing even a fraction of the old school box is a treat. Frosted Krispies was Snap, Crackle and Pop’s first major attempt to get kids to stop buying those marshmallow-laden competing brands. (They’d eventually give up and add marshmallows to their own cereal, but if you’ve been reading the site, you already knew that.)
#9: Kellogg’s Snack Pak!
The Snack Pak is still around in some form or fashion, but I’ve recently noticed versions that eliminate the “mini boxes” in favor of small bags. NO, THAT’S NOT THE SAME. The whole appeal of these sampler assortments is in getting miniature cereal boxes. They made us feel taller. They were also excellent props in doll photography.
#10: S’mores Crunch!
After its recent appearance in my cereal coupons tribute, it’s nice to see the real deal. I stand firm in my belief that S’mores Crunch had one of the most attractive cereal boxes ever. Like, if all of the cereal boxes came alive at night and had to pick a leader, I think S’mores Crunch would’ve got the nod.
#11: E.T. Cereal!
Barely visible, you’d never spot it while watching Manhunter naturally. As a wink to E.T.’s preferred candy, each bowl of “Es” and “Ts” tasted like peanut butter and chocolate. Tack on a box that would’ve been more at home in Toys “R” Us, and this was a winner.
#12: Quaker Dipps!
Dipps were AMAZING, and very frequently found in my elementary school bag lunches. I didn’t realize until today that they’re still being made, but it’s just not the same without the original logo. These were granola bars dunked in chocolate; candy bars without the guilt.
#13: Quaker Whipps!
Whipps were very similar to Dipps, replacing the latter’s chocolate with an unbelievably tasty peanut butter coating. The TV commercial suggested that several million peanut butter chips were melted onto every bar, and given how often I ate them, I guess that was an effective promotional strategy.
Thanks again for the tip, Lauren! If anyone wants to check out the scene (or the whole movie), Manhunter currently streams for free on Amazon Prime. Strongly recommended! I can name no other movie that stars both Tom Noonan and Rainbow Brite.