6 Videogames That Spawned Unhealthy Foods

Friday, January 13, 2012 at 8:05 am
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If there's anything better than wasting your life playing videogames, it's shortening your life eating unhealthy food tie-ins related to those videogames. Marketing people know this, which is why they've been using videogames to promote new ways to get sugar, chemicals, mystery substances, and more sugar into the bodies of young children, ever since videogames were the size of refrigerators.

While breakfast cereal is the most common food to get a videogame character slapped on the box -- after determining which vague corn-puff shapes might possibly be interpreted as characters from said game -- really, there's no limit to the foodstuffs that videogames have been used to shill. Basically, anything that a kid might already be willing to eat could get a Mario or a Sonic on the box to set their unhealthy food product apart from their competitors (it's not worth licensing videogame characters for healthy foods, because all the Pikachu images in the world wouldn't get kids to eat frozen broccoli). Here now are six games and the intestine-destroying, child-marketed culinary tie-ins they inspired.

6) Donkey Kong

Yes, you could eat Donkey Kong for breakfast. No, not Donkey Kong himself (though a giant edible ape for breakfast would have been awesome), but the barrels he throws at Mario in the original game. Well, not really "barrels" per se, but "barrel-like" shapes of corn. Well, okay, not really "corn," but chunks of sugar with a hint of corn in them. There's so little nutritious value in Donkey Kong Cereal that the commercial cleverly focuses on the cereal's "crunch," although few mothers were fooled into believing "crunch" was part of a nutritious breakfast. The side effect of this crunch was that the barrels tore children's mouths apart almost as effectively if they had been eating real barrels. Still, this commercial is one of the few depictions of Mario where he clearly wasn't drawn by Japan. In fact, he looks straight out of a 1930s cartoon -- he looks so ready to cave in Mickey's skull with a hammer and take his steamboat.

5) Pokémon
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Around about the turn of the millennium, there was more Pokémon food than you could shake a dead Mewtwo at. Here's a few notable ones:
• There was the Pokémon Cereal (above), which was titled as "Pokémon Toasted Oat Cereal with Marshmallow Bits" or "Not Lucky Charms." Just looking at the box, you can see Pikachu wielding a giant spoon, presumably to beat off the other Pokémon who have swarmed around him. Obviously, he's outnumbered, but it's always disappointing when an athlete like Pikachu feels the need to pick up an illegal foreign object.
• There were also Pokémon Eggo waffles. Yes, now you could finally toast Pikachu, Togepi, Marill, Elekid and Gengar to a crisp, slather butter and syrup on them, and eat them, just like you always wanted to.
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• In Japan only they had Pokémon Curry sauce! It's even less appetizing than it sounds. especially when you looked on the box. It really looks like Pikachu is very happy he just pooped in your rice.
Also available were about 127 other Pokémon-branded items, most of them involving sugar.

4) Super Mario Bros./Legend of Zelda

If you always wanted a cereal based off of Super Mario Brothers AND a cereal based off the Legend of Zelda but but couldn't possibly decide between the two, then the Nintendo Cereal System is for you! As the commercial indicates, all the "fruit" cereal shapes were kind of like what the sprites must look like to rats that have spent the afternoon swimming in Goldschlager. They look so vague that it's really quite ballsy they even show you the sprite-to-cereal shape conversion at all. Anyhoo, the box was divided in half so you never had the two games mixing together, like some sort of videogame foodstuff segregation. Like real segregation, it was foolish, as it was all practically the same cereal inside (just like people!). On the plus side, the box also came with a free sticker, and maybe some savvy game tips like "Don't jump into holes!"

3) Donkey Kong Jr.

Not only did Papa Kong get cereal, his son Donkey Kong Jr. also got one. I guess it helps to know people. Unlike the Papa Kong Cereal, the Jr. Cereal was more "fruit" based. Which made sense, because if you going to eat something from the game, you'd probably rather eat the fruit from the game than the moving bear traps.

2) Sonic the Hedgehog
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If you wanted to eat fruit-like gel related to Sonic the Hedghog, the 1990s had you covered. Available in both "Hot" and "Crazy" colors, you could eat your way to Dr. Robotnik's lair. Flavors come in "blastin" berry flavor and berry-banana flavor. What kind of berry? Raspberry? Strawberry? Ligonberry? Who knows?! I think it's mostly made of the same stuff they use to repair holes in fiberglass boats anyways. The more interesting thing is the promotion on the back of the box in which you could win the chance to be President of SEGA for a day. I don't know who won this contest, but they were clearly unable to turn SEGA's fortunes around.

Also, this isn't a direct tie-in, but Honey Nut Cheerios did vaguely resemble Sonic's "golden rings," so he and Buzz the Honey Bee had a race once. Sonic won and had the right to Sega Game tips! The utter glory of it is too much to contain!

1) Pac-Man

Pac-Man is all about gluttony, so there's no more perfect tie-in for him than food. For the cereal we have little corn round shapes, (sort of like Kix but with way more sugar) and the kind of freeze-dried marshmallows you only find in kids cereal, astronaut rations, or in the office packing section at Office Depot. This cereal was available on grocery shelves for so long that they just added some new marshmallows to keep it fresh (well, not literally fresh, as I'm sure it had a shelf life of 10,000 years), such as the Ms. Pac man marshmallows with "shocking pink" bows, made of...whatever they dyed pink with in the 1980's. Cancer? Cancer.

It did however, give an 8-year old Christian Bale his first acting role (that's him on the left).

There was also Pac-Man Pasta, which, from the commercial, indicates it was based on the cartoon based on the videogame, if you can wrap your head around that.

Anyway, it was terrible. There were also Pac-Man ice pops, which were better than the pasta if only because there was less chance you were eating processed calf hooves.The ice pops were just Pac-Man and ghost shapes on a stick. Then again, it is hard to mess up ice pops unless you make them out of urine -- though the Pac-Man shaped pops were unsettlingly "lemon" flavored. Still, if they were made out of urine, they would still be better than the Pac-Man pasta

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