After spending half of August gushing over Monster Cereals, I deliberately took a break from covering them – even as those swank retro boxes started piling up at Target.
Please don’t confuse my silence with dispassion. I bought those fuckers in bulk the second I saw them. Even over a month later, I still do a double-take every time I pass them. The 2013 Halloween season has had plenty of highlights, but make no mistake: The Monster Cereal explosion is this year’s biggest.
There’s little point in describing the retro boxes. Many of you own them, and those who don’t have surely seen the photos a hundred times already. I’m not here to regurgitate common knowledge, a turn of phrase that for some reason reminds me of frogs.
No, I’m here to make good on a vow.
My video review of Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy came with a theory. I believed that fans (or at least, serious fans) would stockpile the hell out of these cereals, fearing that they wouldn’t return next year.
Five Monster Cereals, each in “normal” and “retro” box styles. That’s arguably ten cereals. I don’t have access to General Mills’ receipts, but they’d need to be making serious cash for this to happen again next year. The specialness of the revival can only happen once, and there’s a law of diminishing returns with this sort of thing. I’m not saying that they won’t be back at this level… just that I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t.
That’s why I bought 42,000 boxes of Monster Cereals. To PRESERVE them.
At press time, I have all of the retro boxes in triples, and a few in quadruples. Not all of them are for storing away, but most are.
This may read as “hysteria” to you. It isn’t! See, I didn’t suddenly become interested in Monster Cereals under the wave of hype. I’ve been tracking Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy for years. I’ve spied eBay auctions for as long as there have BEEN eBay auctions, hoping to score an empty box of either cereal for a price that wouldn’t cripple me. Minute differences aside, the vintage versions of these exact boxes sell (or used to sell) for FORTUNES.
It still seems so unfathomable that I can just walk into a store and buy them. I’m gonna miss that next month.
I was also sure to include the “normal” versions of Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy. Assuming that neither returns in 2014, my hunch is that the normal boxes will be much harder to find. A lot of people are gonna stash the retro boxes away, since they’re such obvious “collectibles.” With the normal boxes, I’m not so sure.
(And besides, I love the normal boxes. The old school versions pack a bigger punch, but especially in Fruity Yummy Mummy’s case, these are pretty wicked designs. I may even prefer them to the originals!)
There are a thousand ways to store old food. Some are better than others. I don’t have the resources or ambition to get too crazy, but through the many years I’ve spent trying to keep ancient junk food from attracting armies of weevils, I’ve learned a few things.
Mainly, you GOTTA bag them. Even if the boxes are still totally sealed, it’s not enough. Even if the sealed boxes are stored in sealed bins, that’s still not enough. Remember what Jeff Goldblum said: “Life finds a way.” Don’t screw around with this. I won’t go into detail about my horrible experiences, but there’s a reason I had to ditch my half-full box of C-3PO’s Cereal.
A shrink-wrapper of some sort would work wonders, but I make do with giant Ziploc bags. Even if they’re not actually Ziploc bags. The 1 gallon bags are too small, so I went with hideously oversized 2.5 gallon bags, which seem to only be available at dollar stores. They’re not ideally sized, and I need to work hard to expel the extra air, but it’s still better than no protection at all.
I fit as many as I could into that bin, which will soon be stored in a dark, cool place. Or maybe high up on a shelf under direct sunlight. Basically, wherever I have room.
I’m aware that this sounds psychopathic. Yeah, I guess I’m taking things to an extreme that most wouldn’t, even if they wanted to. I’m sure some of you are wondering… why?
Well, it certainly has nothing to do with eating them. I enjoy the Monster Cereals, and devouring a few boxes is a time-honored Halloween tradition, but no, it’s not that.
Nor does it have anything to do with making a quick buck. Even after the cereals expire, these characters will always have fans. Fans that, in time, will be likely to pay way more than I did. But no, I think treating food like penny stocks is too much, even for me.
I guess it boils down to never wanting to be without them. Hell, to me, they’re already as much for decorative purposes as anything else, and if the cereals don’t return next year, I’ll have a full supply ready to dust off and display.
It’s nice knowing that no future Halloween season will be spent without Frute Brute. I’m all about security.
I’ve been doing this shtick for such a long time, and I can’t tell you how many other things I wish I’d kept extras of. So many of the things I covered years ago would mean much more to the world today. This is all so bizarre and tough to put into words, but I think this photo says it all:
Really old Hostess Scary Cakes and Glo Balls. I wrote about these in 2003, and back then, it was just a random junk food review. Ten years later, and the fact that I have instant access to them means a heck of a lot more. Probably only to me, but still.
We all have our quirks. Ephemeral things are my favorite things.