You don’t have to be Don Draper or even capable of one of his schmaltzy monologues about the nostalgic power of dental floss to know the foods we eat can have the ability to transport you back in time. Nowhere is this more evident, perhaps, than in the cereal aisle – but a quick stroll down to your local grocer might conjure up a Talking Heads-like sense that these “are not your beautiful cereals” anymore.
In other words, although the cereals we ate growing up might not have changed much on the inside, just a glimpse of the boxes nowadays can quickly reveal how unidentifiable these breakfast items have become. In this list, Topless Robot presents some of the cereals that have had their mascots changed for apparently no reason other than to be spoofed on one of those I Love the ’80s shows.
7) Cookie Crisp
Depending on how old you are, you might remember this General Mills product being hawked by a cop named Crumb and a crook named Cookie. Though this campaign was ripe with satirical commentary on low-stakes criminals and the pencil-pushing officers with nothing better to do than secure our nation’s bowls, it was ultimately somewhat short-lived – lasting from 1981 until 1997 – and served merely as a placeholder between what preceded and proceeded it. Chip, perhaps rehabilitated by the legal system, eventually became a wolf. A wolf who still tries to steal from kids, albeit feebly. No mention is ever made of Cookie anymore (was he raped to death in cookie prison?), nor that of what came before any of them: A wizard named Cookie Jarvis who would say things like “I’ve come from afar to change your dish into a cookie jar! Heehee… Spelunk, spelar!” Really, why did General Mills have to put that much work into selling tiny cookies to children? Just say it’s cookies. Kids love cookies.
Do you know what the ad wizards at General Mills decided would best sell Cheerios? A yodeling stick figure. Do you know what they decided would be even better than a yodeling stick figure? Nothing. Literally, nothing. Only Honey Nut Cheerios gets a mascot – the bee, Buzz – but the regular cereal apparently sticks out in consumers’ minds best with a total lack of any identification. Our research suggests this is because Cheerios, which was introduced in 1941 eventually was positioned to be the main competitors for a rival nihilist cereal, Noam Chompskios, which instead turned out to be released only in the West Village and then discontinued. Now, Cheerios remains the bleakest cereal on the shelf.
The Trix rabbit, who debuted on cereal boxes around 1960, wasn’t the only face the cereal ever had. Debuting the same year were the Trix boys who would juggle the cereal while riding a unicycle and catch it in a large bowl. But before that, there was Stick Figure Boy, who merely held the cereal box in case shoppers didn’t know what to do with it. For some reason, this cereal always had a boy fascination, and it eventually shifted its focus to a rabbits never-ending attempts to fool them. Man. Cereal is weird Freudian stuff.
4) Raisin Bran
You know what’s better than a giant sun hoisting two scoops filled with shriveled grapes? Nothing. But it takes a while to arrive at such perfection. That’s why Post’s version of this cereal doesn’t currently have a mascot and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran totally shreds monkey ass with its sun. Before Post gave up the search for a superior mascot, though, it had the Trailer Twins. They were a cartoon boy and girl who “live in a trailer [and]they’re out to see America A-Z.” Wait, so, was raisin bran at one point aimed at kids, who have always been known as prolific poopers? Is it possible that they didn’t need the extra fecal push or two prepubescent role models who ran away from home in matching scarves?
3) Lucky Charms
Ever wonder what made Lucky Charms “magically delicious?” That’s because in the mid-’70s the leprechaun was temporarily phased out for Waldo the Wizard, a perverted-looking man with flush cheeks wearing a green robe and black sneakers. Wonder why it didn’t work out.
2) Golden Crisp
Maybe there were layoffs at Post that led to the reduction of these redundancies: Back in the day when it was called Sugar Crisp, Golden Crisp had three bears extoling the cereal’s virtues. They were a big enough deal to warrant Rosemary Clooney recording a song about them and even a comic strip series until, in 1960, just like the Highlander, there could only be one. Three sugar crisp bears inexplicably became one sugar crisp bears. The same thing happened years later with Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s trio of chefs. Coincidence? Or were those bears really just wearing chef costumes and doomed to suffer the fate decades later?
1) Frosted Flakes
For a very brief time, Tony was displaced by Katy the Kangaroo. Some say Tony won a popularity contest that helped him usurp his rightful place on the box, but others say Tony just ate poor Katy and her little joeys, too. Sources say they overheard him saying she tasted “grrrrrrreeeeeeat!” Also, “gamey.”