Remember the time when you excitedly tore into the newest box of cereal? You could give two rat's asses for the actual cereal, but the toy. The glorious, cereal encrusted toy that lurked somewhere in the box. It seemed like you stuck your whole arm in the box looking for this thing. Then...bam! Pulling out half the box with your hand gripping the toy, you found it.
But what is it? What magnificent marvel did they have in store for you this time...
Below is a look back at cereal prizes from the past.
Let's start off easy. Ralston made cereals for kids. They tasted horrible, but what they lacked in taste and quality, they made up for in mind blowingly awesome toys. As you can see, they cut straight to the point with this one. The Batman bank. How's that for a prize. Ralston GOT KIDS.
No digging. No surprises. You were basically buying a bank with some carbohydrates unfortunately attached. My guess, 8/10 kids let the cereal go stale and put all their hard earned money in the bank.
However, since there was a Batman bank on the front, it presented a tricky challenge. How do you ask for this cereal without appearing to only want the toy? Below is how this situation probably played out.
*slyly put cereal into cart
mom- "We're not getting that. You only want it because it has a big toy on the front.
me- "Oh....I didn't notice. I just got it because I liked the flavor"
mom- "Just like you liked the flavor of that Teenage Turtle cereal you didn't finish?"
me- "I think we got a bad batch. Besides this one looks really good! AND I get to save money with the bank."
mom- ".....fine. But you're going to finish this or else you're never getting cereal again"
**admire Batman bank on front
I think I remember pouring some of this cereal in the trash to maintain the illusion that I actually ate it.
God Damnnit do they know how to market to kids. We didn't stand a fucking chance. OF COURSE I would like a time machine. Cereal...?
Yet another example of putting the real reason why we wanted the cereal on the front of the box. However this seems to be a case of "kid goggles". I explicitly remember it being more like this...
And less like a retainer case. But oh well. It was still a huge ass toy on the front of the box. However, you ran into the same problem as before. But now you have another serious problem. (if you didn't grow up with older brothers and sisters, you will have no clue what I'm talking about)
How do get the toy first? Your siblings will surely want the HUGE FUCKING TIME MACHINE on the front of the box. Solution:
1. You hide the box
-- easily foiled by smarter, older siblings
2. You go to the grocery store and claim dibs on it first
-- not always a sure bet, as it might not just be you
3. You get up REALLY early the next morning and claim your prize
-- you get told to go back to bed at 4am by a pissed parent
4. Wait for your brother or sister to tire of it
-- having to wait
As you can see, there are tons of dilemmas when it comes to prizes like this. You're like fucking Indiana Jones trying to hang on to that cross thing on the boat. You keep getting the shit beat out of you while you desperately try to keep your treasure from falling into the hands of the bad guys. What usually happened?
The toy was unceremoniously ripped from my hands and lots of crying. Fucking Ralston.
Taking a break from Ralston for a while, lets focus on Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles. Not only was it awesome cereal, they had a pretty good track record of putting shit into their cereal. I specifically remember this one rock bouncy ball that was pretty awesome. And I even remember they introduced a short lived promotion giving away GOLD FUCKING COINS. I can't find much in the way of proof, but damnit gold coins. I even remember it being such a big deal, I got a call from my friend wanting my cereal box code or something.
This one isn't TOO old, but I remember being super fucking excited about it. Basically I was a "teenager" when this came out. But fuck it, when they put lightsabers in your cereal, age doesn't matter. This was probably the last great cereal toy I remember getting. Sadly I have no clue where my collection of lightsaber pens went, but I'd still use them if I could.
I can't find a good picture of the box. But Cinnamon Toast Crunch gave away finger spoons. I don't have to explain why this appealed to kids. I mean...you get to eat cereal with your fingers. The only fucking problem was trying to eat the damn cereal with your finger. It was god damned awkward and you usually said screw it and just used the spoon normally. But afterwards you'd play a rousing game of Neville Spoon Fingers and run around the house.
Again, Ralston KNOWS what kids want. And we wanted Urkel inspired cereal. At least some of us did. And what did we get? Urkel cereal. I can still remember that somewhat fruity taste and whatever else it was. But the real treat...Urkel paraphernalia. The only thing I really remember was the Urkel notebook which I believe had an Urkel on every page and when you flipped it, he danced. It was like you were making cartoons. Forget having "celebrities" sign your notebook. What little kid is going to hand this to Tony Danza? Give me a dancing Jeleel White.
Kellogs had a send away promotion where you can get all this! The fanny pack was extra cool, I still wish I could find that to this day. And the magnifying glass! Dear lord, I could have told you 50 things I would have done with that magnifying glass. I wanted to solve crimes, look at molecules, fry ants...etc etc. I fucking loved Darkwing Duck.
And we find ourselves back to Ralston. They apparently made Cookie Crisp until the late 90's when I think they sold it to General Mills. Cookie Crisp has a good history of toys. They even made those awesome Bobby's World pogs every kid had in their collection.
But you get a feeling that there is more to Ralston than meets the eye. They are awful good at making bits of food for stupid mammals to eat. It's almost like they have practice...
So yes, you're seeing that correctly. Ralston originally produced Purina dog food along with it's cereals. However you can rest easy knowing they sold their pet food brand to Nestle.
Hope you enjoyed this little trip into cereal memory lane. Surprisingly it's hard to remember and find all the toys you remember from cereal boxes. They are a lost portion of our childhood that no one thinks is important. It's not the toy itself, but finding something exciting in an otherwise mundane substance. Looking for the fun in something that isn't. It's what being a kid is all about.