?Cereal has always been a breakfast foods staple. Kids and adults alike, millions of people all over starting their day simply with some puffed corn and sugar. Everyone has their favorite; everyone has spent mornings hunched over a bowl, reading the back of a cereal box. It’s a time-honored breakfast tradition that doesn’t stop at childhood, though cereal can certainly make one feel nostalgic.
But as long as something good and wholesome exists, the free market will always be there to capitalize on it. During the ’80s and ’90s, cereal companies saw the commercial successes of cereal characters. Count Chocula, Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam were already established cereal mascots, spawning merchandise and characters; little universes that only lived in a thirty second commercial. The next logical step was clearly to cash in with cereals based on current, popular cartoons, movies and characters. Sometimes what we were given was an incredible marriage of breakfast treats and classic pop culture memorabilia. Sometimes… we got these.
5) E.T. Cereal
E.T.. Two simple letters that evoke some of the strongest feelings of compassion, of friendship, of the quest for acceptance in an unfair society (and sometimes horror). Also, it was a crappy cereal. Much like the legendarily bad Atari game, the cereal seems to have been a crappy rush job — which is the only reason the execs of Ralston (a division of Nestle), more commonly known as the Ralston
Purina Company, chose pieces are shaped like E’s and T’s as opposed to a far more sensible and marketable pairing with Reese’s Pieces. Oh, all the marvelous things your children can spell with E.T. cereal,
like “TEET” and “TEE!” It’s really no surprise that a cereal made by pet food
manufacturers failed so miserably.
4) Smurfberry Crunch Anyone familiar with the little blue creatures knows the food of choice for the little Belgian elves; Smurfberries. Anyone raised watching the show always wondered what they tasted like, and in 1983, it seemed the mystery was over. By all accounts thecereal tasted fantastic. The taste was unlike anything people could pinpoint, and as far as anyone knew, they really did taste like Smurfberries. So why did it fail? Simple. It turned people’s excrement blue. No mother is willing to reconcile her child’s turd health for the sake of taste, and Smurfberry Crunch was soon off the market.
3) Nerds Cereal Pretty much everyone loves Willy Wonka’s Nerd candy, but the Nerds cereal was a catastrophe bad enough to make Willy jump into the chocolate river. The cereal was divided into two separate compartments in the box, but it didn’t matter at all, because they were both disgustingly terrible. The cereal had a sweet and salty taste that I imagine must be something like a bowl of Trix soaked in brine. It left stores very quickly, and the taste buds of children everywhere were eternally grateful. NERD GATE!
2) Mr. T Cereal
Mr. T is cool. There are far worse ways to shill cereal than to have Mr. T running around high-fiving children to rock music telling us it’s cool. Only problem being that even Mr. T couldn’t save the fact that the cereal sliced through the roof of your mouth like it was made of gravel. People complain about Cap’n Crunch, but it’s stuck around for 57 years. Mr. T cereal lasted long enough to make it into Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, and that’s it.
Steve Urkel started out as a minor recurring character on Family Matters, but he quickly skyrocketed to the most popular character on the show, and arguably the most popular character on network television at the time. Urkel was so obsessed with Laura Winslow; he tried almost everything to get her to love him; cloning machines, DNA transformations, all were futile attempts to win Laura’s heart. But then, with help from the fine folks at Ralston, he came up with his greatest plan ever.
Reports vary as to taste; some classify it as barely passable, while others regard it as the most disgusting thing ever spawned out of aisle 12, with an aftertaste that stayed with the rest of the day. It’s not too comforting that a cereal might give you a serious case of “Urkel-breath”. The box included a coupon for free fruit with your next purchase of Urkel-Os, probably something to cover up the taste.
It’s hard to imagine that with all of the suave and sophistication of Steve Urkel, the cereal only graced the shelves of grocery stores for a few months.