6 Failed Cereal Mascots
When it comes to kids’ cereal it’s all about three things: the shape of the marshmallow bits, the toy surprise inside and the cereal’s mascot. A good mascot can make a cereal insanely popular for decades. But a poorly chosen or conceived mascot can kill a cereal long before it gets its chance to inflict type II diabetes on a whole new generation of children.
Breakfast cereal commercials have a long history of mascots who try to steal cereal from children, often by donning disguises or routinely breaking and entering children’s homes, screaming and frothing. The frightening-looking Stark of ”Raving Mad” cereal, however, took this one step further. With a high-pitched giggle that some said sounded like Woody Woodpecker after committing triple homicide, Stark would hold the cereal eaters hostage, demanding their breakfast by threatening to remove yet another organ or eye. Eventually Stark would just eat the hostage instead and then turn to face the camera to say “You’re next,” followed by a viewer’s home address.
While some mascots hoped to steal cereal, others tried to protect their own breakfast. Usually, like the Lucky Charms leprechaun, they did this by simply grabbing the bowl and making a frantic run for it as is being chased by the feds. Not so Mmmilitia Max, whose cereal consisted of marshmallow pipe bombs, shell casings and sniper scopes and whose catchphrase “You can pry this bowl from my cold dead hands” echoed from inside his cave hideout. Mmmilitia Max would instead set up a perimeter of land mines around the cereal box and then patiently wait camouflaged in the grass, shooting anyone who approached in an ad campaign that horrified everyone except a handful of self-proclaimed “true Americans” who thought it finally showed animated children what’s what.
Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry, General Mills introduced yet another monster-themed cereal in the early seventies. Unfortunately, the new zombie mascot not only had to sell beets as a yummy morning flavor but was also shot in terrifying black and white, making the commercials less about breakfast cereal and more about running for your life at 6 am. Add to the fact that the mascot was mostly naked and festering, the beet-flavored cereal would turn blood red in milk (making the floating severed arteries all the more unappetizing) and that each commercial ended with the line “We can’t kill it! Oh God, we just can’t kill it!!!” and it’s no wonder that the cereal was pulled from shelves and replaced with “Yummy Mummy.”
Lou, the Creature of Unknown Origin and Uncertain Intent
Many a cereal brand has used an animal mascot, from Tony the Tiger to Dig’em the Frog to the short-lived Willie the Earthworm for “Soil Myself Dirt Clumps.” In trying to copy the success of those spokescharacters, the makers of “WTF” cereal made two critical mistakes. First, they opted for live action instead of animation. And second, they chose an animal so outright freakish in appearance that most of the ads consisted of a family shrieking and running in terror the moment the creature popped out from the milk in the bowl to say its dialogue, which consisted of an ear-piercing hiss before it scampered up inside someone’s shirt sleeve.
The Dark Prince of Breakfast
Every commercial for “Devilicious”—the self-proclaimed “Bad Boy of Cereals”—was the same. A child would enter the kitchen looking for a piece of fruit for breakfast when suddenly a devil would appear on his shoulder, telling him to eat a bowl of sinfully high-sugar red flakes instead. Then the devil would tell the kid to set fire to the living room. Then steal his parents’ car. Then see how many convenience stores the kid could rob in an afternoon. The ads usually ended with the small child in a shoot-out with cops as he ate a piece of toast and had a glass of orange juice for a complete breakfast.
Branson the Colon
In an attempt to get kids to eat more healthy bran and fiber, the makers of Colonix Cereal introduced Branson, a large intestine that slithered across breakfast tables courtesy of “bowel movements” and featured a colon for a head and a rectum through which he spoke his dialogue. Alas, no one knows how effective this mascot would have been since it was yanked mid-commercial and replaced with a far more appetizing image of an old man doubled over in pain and telling kids, “Don’t wind up like me. Eat your bran.”
Which is your favortie failed cereal mascot? Let us know in the comments!