Cereal marketing just isn’t what it used to be. In the 70s, continuing through the 90s, every cereal had toothy grinned mascots scarfing down whichever cereal they were associated with. And we all bought into it, well our parents did anyway. As an adult, I still love sugary cereal for any meal! But there’s a darker side to everyone’s easily prepared breakfast. In 2011 researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found kids were more likely to want cereal with colorful mascots. But why? The reason is a bit more sinister than you would imagine. Damn you marketing!
In 2011 researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that kids were more likely to want the cereal that had a colorful cartoon buddy slathered on the box because those silly cartoon characters are staring into your child’s soul! Okay, I might be exaggerating but only by a little. Researchers at Cornell Food and Brand Lab studied 86 different cereal box mascots from 10 different stores. Of the 86 mascots, 57 were aimed at kids and all had their eyes directed downward at an average of 9.6 degrees. Couple that with grocery stores usually putting cereal on shelves that are about 23 inches high. Essentially, cereal companies are making their characters look your unsuspecting child right in the eye so they connect with them. As if that weren’t unsettling enough, here are the creepiest cereal mascots brainwashing your kids!
Okay, first the name is just totally unappetizing and sounds like something you’d find in the depths of Urban Dictionary. Evidently the “kream” part was marketed as “Chunks of REAL ICE CREAM” inside each bite. In reality, it was just freeze-dried astronaut ice cream because…well…isn’t it obvious? It came in three flavors: Vanilla, orange (gag), and strawberry stuffed inside what was basically a Cheerio. So you want ice cream for breakfast kid? Well, the price is dealing with Kream Krunch the ice cream cone staring you down. With his creepy suit and tiny circular eyes, he watched as you choked down your orange flavored milk. Unsurprisingly this cereal only lasted a year before it was locked away for good. But the real question remains, WHY DOES HE HAVE HANDS AND NO FEET??
Deviating away from the mainstream cereal companies for just a moment, I present you with Safeway Kitchens. We’ve all opted for a bag/box of off-brand cereal at some point or another. The fact is, most of it only tastes slightly different from the pricey brands, and you usually get way more cereal for your dollar. Also, with knock off cereal you get knock off mascots, and boy is Safeway spilling over with them! They all look like they came from some weird internet cartoon. But what really bothers me most is every single one of them has a weird Gene Simmons tongue going on.
Of the bizarre cereal mascots featured on this list, I would have totally been down with this as a kid, but that doesn’t make these…whatever they are…any less weird. Freakies came from the Ralston cereal company in 1972 and had a decent run until it was pulled off the shelves in 1976. The Freakies were seven little oddly shaped blobs that hopped around in search of the “Freakies’ tree” which essentially was a tree that grew cereal. Once they discovered it, they did what most business-minded Freakies would do – they moved in to reap the benefits. The Freakies themselves are deranged, hyperactive, loud-mouthed creatures, so you can see why they appealed to kids. Their names, and more obviously their personalities, seem to be referential of the dwarves in Snow White. Check them out in all of their acid-induced glory!
Low on sugar and based on black-eyed baby dolls that reside in cabbage patches (a food I do not associate with cereal), what’s not to love? Everything. Everything is not to love because the Cabbage Patch Kids were things of nightmares. Their weirdly round faces, black shark eyes, and lack of parental supervision is enough to send me back to my CoCoa Puffs. Oh, and let’s not forget each spoonful is filled with round smiling faces with little eye-holes punched out. I guess for the child who enjoys gnashing tiny faces into obliteration.
I really don’t think I need to explain why Krinkles the Clown makes number one on this list. Look at him! Clowns are scary, but vintage clowns are the absolute worst! Essentially, Sugar Krinkle was the proto-Rice Crispies but instead of Snap, Crackle, and Pop (who are only mildly unsettling) we get Bozo the cereal devouring clown. To be fair though, Post cereal wasn’t ever known for making good decisions on their mascots.
I know it’s not cereal, but it is a breakfast food with some sinister mascots. The Crazy Good Pop-Tarts are well known for getting tricked into toaster ovens by hungry stick people. The entire concept of these commercials is basically murder, but it’s cartoon food, so who cares! Actually, I think they are hilarious. But this one is wrong on so many levels…