Friday, October 15, 2021

General Mills Monster Cereals - 50th Anniversary

In 1971, General Mills created two new cereals, "Count Chocula" and "Franken Berry." According to General Mills, these cereals were the very first "chocolate" and "strawberry" flavored cereals, available to consumers.

Joining them in 1973, was "Boo Berry," a blueberry flavored cereal.

In 1974, "Fruit Brute" was added to the line of "monster cereals."  (The original spelling was "Fruit," but it was later changed to "Frute.")


Fruit Brute was discontinued in 1982, and replaced by Fruity Yummy Mummy, in 1988 (which itself was discontinued, in 1992).

Today, only the first three cereals are still manufactured.  And beginning in 2010, they have only been available on a seasonal basis, from September 1st to October 31st, just in time for Halloween.

However, in 2013, all five cereals were released for a limited time.  It was the first time that they had all appeared on the grocery store shelves, together.  Two different versions of packaging were available, for each of the cereals.  There was a "general release" with modern versions of the characters on the boxes, and there was a "limited release," with original character artwork.  The limited release boxes with original artwork (shown above), were exclusive to Target stores.

The boxes with the modern versions of the characters were also available at Target, but they were available at other stores, as well.  Here is what that artwork looked like:

All of the monster cereals released in 2013, including the ones with the original/retro art, included this modern artwork on the back of the boxes.
The following year (2014), only three of the monster cereals were released.  Once again, the boxes with original artwork were available exclusively at Target stores.  Not only was the original artwork different than the previous year's releases, but they had also added original graphics to the back of the boxes.
Unfortunately, by the time I got to my local Target store that year, Count Chocula was already sold out, so this first image is from the internet:


Also in 2014, the modern versions of the characters received an update.  This time, General Mills enlisted various "DC Comics" artists, to create new versions of the classic characters.
Artwork by Terry and Rachel Dodson:

Artwork by Dave Johnson: 

 Artwork by Jim Lee:

Like many other cereals from back in the day, the General Mills monster cereals used to have some nice premiums/prizes, included in their boxes.  These next two vintage images show a box of Fruit Brute cereal, advertising "glow-in-the-dark" light switch plate stickers, included inside.
I saved five different versions of these stickers, from my childhood.  And just like the "Wacky Packages" stickers that I collected, I never used any of these.  If you look closely, you can see a tiny rectangular "cut" in the very center of each sticker.  This is the "hole" in the sticker, that would end up going over the switch, when applied to a light switch "plate."  The specific messages on these stickers were all related to the "energy crisis," which was taking place at the time. 
This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first "monster cereals," General Mills has released a new cereal called, "Monster Mash."  It includes all five monster cereals together for the first time, in one box!


Happy 50th anniversary, to General Mills' monster cereals!

Friday, October 1, 2021

"Disney World Is A New Disneyland" - My Weekly Reader (1971)

Today is the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World's grand opening.  I remember the very first time that I heard about the existence of a "second Disneyland."  It was when I was in the second grade and our teacher was passing out copies of My Weekly Reader to the class.  The cover story headline was, "Disney World Is A New Disneyland."  I was already a huge Disneyland fan, even at that age, so this was very exciting news.

For years, I thought the characters in the cover photo (below), were standing above the entrance to Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents attraction.  Only recently, did I realize that they were standing on the second level of the Liberty Square Boat Dock.

That was it for the story about WDW's opening....short and sweet!  Well, we were only second graders, so all of the stories were short.  Here is the rest of the issue.

It would be 12 more years before the children of Japan (and the adults, too!) would get their own Disneyland.

Astrofood!  This was a time when everyone was still fascinated with space travel/exploration, and it was reflected in the naming of certain places and products, such as AstroTurf, Astroburger restaurants, the Astrodome in Houston, Astro the dog (on The Jetsons), etc.

A test?  Nobody said there was going to be a test, later!  I'm breaking out in a cold sweat!

I believe that a "Peanut and Jocko" comic strip appeared in most, if not every issue of My Weekly Reader.  This one isn't all that funny.  Maybe as second graders, we thought it was hilarious?

If I'm remembering correctly, My Weekly Reader was usually only 4 pages long.  However, this issue had a special insert in the middle of it, with four pages of poetry.

While looking at the the artwork below, I realized I still have one childhood Halloween costume that I need to photograph and share.  That would be my Mickey Mouse costume.  It was the last "Ben Cooper-style" costume that I ever wore.  Last October, I posted photos of my brother and me, wearing a few of our childhood Halloween costumes.  For anyone who's interested, those pics can be seen here:  A Vintage Halloween Potpourri.

Happy 50th birthday, Walt Disney World!


Friday, August 27, 2021

A Vintage Disneyland Trip Report - August 1976

It's time for another vintage Disneyland trip report! 

Forty-five years ago this week, an elementary school friend of mine invited me to go with him and his family to Disneyland.  I have a fairly good memory about many parts of this visit.  I also saved both the park guidebook (which was handed out to guests when purchasing tickets), and the main gate entertainment guide (which was available to guests as they walked through the turnstiles).

This was the entertainment guide for the week of August 22nd - 28th, 1976.

The country was celebrating it's bicentennial, that year.  In honor of the milestone birthday, Disney created "America On Parade," which performed twice daily, starting in the Summer of 1975, and running through the Summer of 1976.  Incidentally, the nighttime performance of the parade resulted in a hiatus of the Main Street Electrical Parade, for the first time since it's debut in the Summer of 1972.

The entertainment listing mentions "Ragtime Rod," who had been playing piano at the Coke Corner on Main Street, for over 6 years at this point.  There is also a "Ragtime Ray" listed.  I have never heard of him before.  I have also never seen Rod Miller listed specifically by name, on an entertainment guide.  He was usually just listed as, "Coke Corner Pianist."

And this was the guidebook for that summer season.  The cover featured one of the parade units from "America On Parade."  I have scanned the entire guide, and will include it at the end of this post.

I shot a whole roll of film that day (12 exposures).  I've posted a pic of my childhood camera before, but I'm including it again, here.  The camera was a Kodak Instamatic X-15, and took a "126" size film cartridge.  It was a gift from my dad, for Christmas of 1974.  This trip was only the second time that I had taken my camera to Disneyland.  I have previously posted the very first photos I ever took at the park.  To see those, you can click here:  Easter Vacation 1975 - A Vintage Disneyland Trip Report.

Here are my photos, shown in the order that they were taken.  First up, we have the obligatory shot of the Castle.  We got to the park early in the morning, and I remember how it seemed very uncrowded, compared to all the other times I had been at the park.....especially for the summer season.

I remember running over to the Matterhorn, for the first attraction of the day.  The Matterhorn was still the park's only "thrill ride," and it would get a rather long line as the day went on.  It was also still kind of a "new" ride for me.  I had only been on it once before.  Note the solo mountain climber, nearing the Matterhorn's peak.  A bobsled can also be seen, crossing over the stone bridge just above the Monorail beam.

In this next picture, I am wearing my childhood Mickey Mouse watch.  Also, I made the mistake of standing behind that tree branch.  ;-)

The watch had been a Christmas gift from my mom, a couple years earlier.

This shot of Monstro shows how empty the park was, since I was able to take the picture without any people in the frame.

I remember going on most of the Fantasyland dark rides, that morning.  My friend's sister and brother-in-law did not go on Peter Pan's Flight with us.  She said that she would hold my camera for me, while we were on the ride.  Then as we were exiting the vehicle, she snapped this photo of us.

Next, we headed over to the Skyway......

This picture of Cinderella's Castle came out a little blurry.

However, I was pretty happy with this "artfully" angled shot of the Mad Tea Party.  We can see that the park was still not very crowded, but it would get more crowded as the day went on.

I remember being VERY excited to see Space Mountain under construction.  My brother and I had seen it listed for years as a future attraction, on our souvenir Disneyland "wall maps."  The finished product did look different than the artwork on the maps, and the name, "Spaceport & Rocket Flight," had also been changed.  I'm assuming that was a "placeholder" name, anyway.  I was also excited to see the construction, because Walt Disney World's version of the attraction had already opened, and I had watched Mike Douglas ride it on his afternoon talk show, the previous year.

We got off the Skyway and hit Tomorrowland, next.  I'm not sure why I didn't take any more photos of Tomorrowland, especially since it was always my favorite least up until 1998, WHEN THEY TOTALLY RUINED IT!  ;-)

Later in the day, we rode the Mine Train thru Nature's Wonderland.  I remember how nice the cool mist from the geysers of  "The Living Desert" felt, on a hot summer day.  Sadly, this would be my last time riding the attraction, since it closed just 5 months later (in January of 1977).

After exiting the Mine Train, I remember seeing this tableau of a stagecoach, parked in front of an extension of Rainbow Ridge, and liking it enough to want to snap a pic.  At the time, I did not realize that this Stagecoach was a vehicle from an extinct Disneyland attraction.  I also did not realize that these buildings had been the backdrop for the former Pack Mules attraction.  While I was aware of the Pack Mules during the time they existed at Disneyland, we somehow never rode them.  We always chose to ride the Mine Train, instead.

Next, we rode the Mark Twain around the Rivers of America.  Is it just me, or does the Friendly Indian Village look small here?

For the remainder of our visit, we went on many of the same attractions that my family always went on, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, and Country Bear Jamboree.  I also remember watching "America On Parade."  I really loved this parade.  It ranks right up there, as one of my all-time favorite parades.

This was the very first float in the parade.  Note the blue and white Small World Souvenir Stand, on the far right.

I remember at this point, my film was running out and I only had one more exposure left, so my last shot of the day was of "Betsy Ross" and her giant flag.  I wish I had been able to take more pics of this parade.

As for souvenirs that day, I bought this caricature of myself, at the Fantasyland Caricature Stand.  The stand was located directly behind me, as I was taking the photo, above.  I remember when the artist drew this, the last thing he included was the cliff that I was about to "go over."  My friend also had his caricature drawn.  The artist depicted him dunking a basketball through a hoop.  As he was finishing up, he drew a ladder underneath him, with him standing on the top step.  It seemed like the artists always added "the gags" to their drawings, at the last minute.

Here's a photo showing the Fantasyland Caricature Stand (from the blog, "Disney On Parole").  It was taken in 1979, but I'm including it because it's the best one I have seen out there on the internet.  In the photo, we can see that there are about 5 samples of framed caricatures, displayed on the counter.  A customer is standing in front of the counter, and turned to the side so the artist can see his profile.  The artist is seated behind the counter, and in between him and the customer, we can see the top of an overhead projector.  As the artists drew the caricatures, guests could watch the progress, projected onto that white screen behind them.

On our way out of the park, we stopped at the Candy Palace on Main Street.  Both the Candy Palace and the Castle Candy Shop used to sell these clear plastic cubes, filled with various kinds of candy.  Some of the plastic cubes came with a ceramic figurine of a Disney character, glued to the lid.

How about that price of $1.55 for five ounces of candy!

I have several of these plastic boxes, which I saved from different visits to the park.  I always bought the ones that were filled with the "Swiss Petite Fruits."  I even remember coming home with this same type of candy, after a childhood visit to Universal Studios.

I hope everyone enjoyed this time traveling visit back to 1976!


Here is the Disneyland Guide from this trip, in it's entirety.

Note the message below, about Disneyland being closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, in the off season.  Disneyland did not start being open everyday, until the early eighties.

In the "General Information" below, I see that there are two references to Disneyland "employees," and two references to "Disneylanders."  I guess at this point, Disney was not yet calling their employees, "cast members."

I always loved the tiny graphics used in these guides, for each of the attractions:

The PeopleMover had been temporarily removed from the list of "D" attractions.  The construction of Space Mountain had forced it's closure.

Note, the location of the Fantasyland Caricature Stand, below.

The back cover had an ad for the re-release of Peter Pan, and two new "live-action" films, from Walt Disney Productions.