I know I’ve written about Gremlins Cereal several times before, but I swear, I have a really good reason to do it again.
See, that isn’t any ordinary Gremlins Cereal box. No, that one is STILL SEALED.
…or at least, it was until a few hours ago. As soon as I cracked that sucker open, the birds chirped louder and it completely stopped raining. If you’re in the New York metropolitan area: You’re fuckin’ welcome.
I know you’re dying to see what 33-year-old corn looks like, but first let me remind you what Gremlins Cereal was, and why it was so important to the kid version of me.
Released in 1984, Gremlins Cereal was one of the first cereals I absolutely had to have. I was barely old enough to string coherent sentences together, but I somehow still communicated my intense need for this cereal.
I didn’t see Gremlins until it hit videocassette, but I was still obsessed with that movie from Day One. I’d watch the TV spots and struggle to comprehend the blithe cruelty of a world that’d put something so adorable (Gizmo) in the same place as something so terrifying (Gremlins).
The point is, I was eating Gremlins Cereal months before I’d ever even seen the movie. Gizmo’s hold over me was just that strong. Excluding the model swimming pool from Christmas Vacation, I can’t think of another fictional movie “item” I’ve ever wanted more.
I was thrilled to see that the billions of little Gizmos still looked like billions of little Gizmos. This was hardly the first box of ancient cereal I’ve opened, and all too often, the pieces either shrank or became glued together. I hate it when that happens; it’s so hard to complain about over drinks with friends.
Really, if not for the smell (modeling clay mixed with fertilizer), I might’ve entertained the idea that this was still good enough to eat.
It looks plain by today’s standards, but I was CRAZY about this stuff back in ‘84. Gremlins Cereal tasted like a lower-rent Cap’n Crunch, but flavor was irrelevant when you had a bowlful of Gizmos.
For simplicity’s sake, Ralston pretended that Gizmo was a Gremlin. I guess you can’t fault them for not wanting to spend precious TV time explaining the difference between a Mogwai and a Gremlin. (On a related note, my brain says that neither “Mogwai” nor “Gremlin” should be capitalized, but my heart is louder and also carries a bat.)
The Gizmo-shaped cereal pieces were (and still are) adorable, and way back when, you best believe that I spent as much time treating them like Fisher-Price toys as I did eating them.
I dug deep into the box and, God yes, there was a free Gremlins sticker tucked inside. Packed with it was something even more valuable: An honest-to-goodness Gremlins Cereal coupon! (With no expiration date, to boot!)
Side note: Ralston famously offered a plush Gizmo toy on the back of the boxes, for $9.95 plus two proofs-of-purchase. That same doll was also sold in stores, sure, but not with the incredible SHOEBOX CAGE that Ralston shipped theirs in.
Yes, they really did pack the dolls into shoeboxes, and they even drilled breathing holes into the lids! Since any kid who wanted one of these very much planned to treat it like a real pet, those extra touches were well worth the 10 bucks and 4-6 week wait.
Huge thanks to my pal Adam R. (aka ecto_coolest), who very generously traded me this still-full box. Now I understand that whole “Christmas in July” thing.
By the time you’re finished reading this, I’ll be in my blanket fort making tiny corn Gizmos argue over crayons. It’ll be just like 1984. I even have the same haircut.