Whatever happened to my cereal toys?

3 mins read


When I was a child, I loved to sit in the morning before school and eat my cereal. Mom would keep a variety available for her eight children, but we were mostly limited to Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Puffs, Alpha-bits and of course Sugar Smacks.

Those were the big four. We would sit at the table and the sibling who was lucky enough to be the earliest would open the new box of cereal and find a toy. What fun! Pure sugar for breakfast and a cheap little toy that might last about five minutes. Life was good.

As we got older, we had the option of picking out our own cereal and sometimes that decision was based on the cool toy inside. Like the Plastic Spoonman from Outer Space in the Shredded Wheat. That cereal is still a favorite of mine today, but it was the toy that originally enticed me.

Now mind you, this was the era before you were told what you were eating and that the object inside the box was probably hazardous. The Food Labeling Act of 1990 opened many people’s eyes as to the nutritional content of the cereals and ultimately forced the manufacturers to at least attempt to put together some healthier cereals.

Some say the toys were eliminated after the 1988 recall of 30 million flutes and binoculars which were deemed unsafe. I find it interesting that any toy lasted long enough to become unsafe, but I agree that a four-year-old should not be pulling out a decoder spy ring from the cereal box.

Ultimately, the manufacturers switched to coupons or codes on the boxes. The ones you cut out and save 100 of them to get a book for your school.

As I was sitting at my table this morning, I started to read the Raisin Bran box in front of me. On the front in bold red letters was written “Healthy Heart.” This was not something I cared about when I was 7-years-old. 

Then I turned the box around and found an entire new method for getting a toy (book). Buy a Kellogg’s product, take a picture of your receipt and get credit to redeem a book for your choice to keep or donate. There were rules in the fine print. Dates available, registration and some other things, but a far cry from reaching into the box and pulling out my own Dragnet whistle.

Then, while placing the Raisin Bran box back in the cabinet, I spotted my old faithful Kellogg’s Rice Krispies box. It was there on the back – in large print – the recipe for Rice Krispie Treats. 

Some things do not change after all.


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