In my childhood years, a classic Saturday morning was my dad and I sitting cross-legged on the carpet together eating cereal – his in a giant mixing bowl and mine in a regular-sized normal person bowl. Save for the opening sequence of Alvin and the Chipmunks when I set aside my breakfast to get up and dance, the spoon barely left my mouth until Saved by the Bell finally started and soggy Alpha Bits sadly clung to the sides of my bowl. Cereal has always been my comfort food, and much like I started shopping at the Gap after a Sarah Jessica Parker commercial, I learned early on to judge my cereal by its endorser.
Cereal mascots were weekend heroes in 80s. We believed in the magical leprechaun even though he turned our milk a questionable shade of grey, we stuck with the silly rabbit when his Trix went from balls to fruit shapes and back again, and bravo to the sneaky little elves who actually convinced us to eat “crisp rice” after we held a freshly poured bowl to our ear to hear the snap, crackle, and pop. And let’s face it; we, too, were cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Some mascots gave it their all, but fell a little short. The beaming sun with the shades only convinced my mom to eat Raisin Bran, and I don’t know who the rooster was fooling. Until Kellogg’s sprinkled a little sugar on those bad boys and had a neckerchief-clad tiger peddle them I wouldn’t go anywhere near a flake. Then there was Sugar Bear and the “dig ‘em”-exclaiming-frog identity crisis. I’m currently accepting any argument that can convince me that Super Golden Crisp and Honey Smacks are not the exact same cereal.
The 80s were also the decade of the cereal one-hit-wonder; although cereal conspiracy theorists must note that Barbie’s high heels tasted suspiciously like a Smurf berry which also tasted like the extremely short lived fruity Mario puffs, and I’m convinced they all popped out of the same factory as Crunch Berries.
So in the battle of Tony vs. Snap vs. Frankenberry vs. those sweet little bakers who add the cinnamon to my Toast Crunch vs. all the rest, it’s hard to choose a clear winner in the cereal mascot smackdown. But when I was a kid walking down the cereal aisle fending of cat calls from miniature cookie hawking robbers and the toucan that Guiness fired, it was smooth talker Fred Flintstone who made his way into my cart every time. And although these days the face on my Saturday cereal box has changed from Dino to Jillian Michaels and the show on my television set has changed from… ok it’s still Saved by the Bell… I always keep a box of Cocoa Pebbles on my shelf. I figure they’ve had thousands of years to perfect it so it must be right. Besides, it’s chocolate.
Who wins your smackdown?