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 the flavors from all five monster cereals, together for the first time, in one box!


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


K. Martinez said...

What a great post! These were my favorite cereals from when I was a kid. Me and my cousins used to imitate the voices of Count Chocula, Frankenberry and Boo Berry whenever we watched the commercials.

Frankenberry was always my favorite of the monster cereals. I do have reissues of Count Chocula, Frankeberrry and Boo Berry cereal. I ate the cereal, but kept the boxes along with a Lucky Charms cereal box.

Did you eat the cereal or keep it sealed inside your collectible boxes with everything intact?

That Monster Mash cereal box looks cool. Is it still available?

Another couple of cereal characters I loved were from Quaker Oats. That would be Quake and Quisp. Was always a fan of that cereal and the characters.

Thanks, TokyoMagic! This is my kind of post. Pop culture and food products from the 1960's/70's.

MRaymond said...

I'm the 180 opposite of KM, I hated them all. I've never been a fan of overly sugary cereals, even when I was a kid in the 60's. But I love the history of them. I guess I was a weird kid.

TokyoMagic! said...

Ken, thanks! I did like these cereals as a child, but there were many others that I liked just as much. I think my favorite might have been the peanut butter flavored Cap'n Crunch.

Initially, when I bought the reissues of the monster cereals, I kept the boxes sealed. Eventually, the cereal "expired," but I continued to keep them unopened. At one point, I just figured they were taking up too much space, so I opened them up, dumped the stale cereal in the trash, and "flattened" the boxes.

I haven't looked for the Monster Mash cereal in the stores, but my brother has. He hasn't been able to find it anywhere. He did find boxes of Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry, with original character graphics and also a "50th Anniversary" seal on the front of the box. Those were at Target, so I don't know if once again, the retro boxes were exclusive to Target. I have seen the Monster Mash cereal on Amazon and ebay, but it is "pricey." The thought of all four cereals combined together sounds unappealing to me, but I do like the box and it's artwork. The way that they have the characters playing instruments reminds me of the "Groovy Ghoulies" cartoon on Saturday mornings. Remember that?

I also liked Quisp and Quake cereals. I think they were basically the same as Cap'n Crunch, weren't they? I also remember when they came out with a cereal related to Quisp and Quake called, "Orange Quangaroos." Now that cereal was just gross! And it wasn't around too long, so it couldn't have been very popular. They do limited re-releases of Quisp sometimes. I found some in an Albertson's store, back in the early 2000s, but I think they have done multiple "limited" releases of it since then.

And speaking of Cap'n Crunch, my brother recently (two weeks ago) gave me a new box of Cap'n Crunch with Crunch Berries, and it had the original graphics with the Cap'n and the Crunch Berry Beast. I think he got that at Target, as well, but I'm not sure if it was available in other stores.

I also love this kind of pop culture from the 60s and 70s! I wish more companies would do the "retro" packaging, even if it is only for a limited time.

TokyoMagic! said...

MRaymond, I did like these cereals when I was a very young child, but I think I outgrew them pretty quickly. I am not a cereal-eater, today, and I haven't been since childhood. As I mentioned in my comment to Ken, after buying all of these "re-issued" cereals, I eventually tossed the cereal inside and just kept the boxes! I bet you weren't a weird kid! It just sounds like you were a healthy kid, which is a good thing!

JG said...

Tokyo, this is amazing. I sure remember these.

I wasn't crazy about the cereals, though. I preferred Capt. Crunch, with the berries, Cocoa Puffs (which was a chocolate cereal, so I question that marketing claim about Chocula) and Trix.

I liked Quisp ok, but we didn't get it very often. Not sure why, I think these were all about the same price.

As an adult, I realized how awful these things were for kids teeth, etc. and so we never bought them for our kids. They had to make do with corn flakes and similar unsweetened varieties. Both of them are now very health-conscious eaters, exemplary cooks and gardeners, thanks mostly to Mrs. G, who was very careful to bring them up to read labels and avoid added-sugar items.

Sure is fun to see the old labels again, thank you for this post.


TokyoMagic! said...

JG, I forgot all about Cocoa Puffs! I don't think I ever had Cocoa Puffs, but I definitely remember the "Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs" commercials! I just checked and it looks like that cereal goes back to 1956. So I guess General Mills is just like Disney, they lie!

And I just now remembered Cocoa Pebbles from Post. I looked it up and it also goes back to 1971. I wonder who was first that year, Post with Cocoa Pebbles, or General Mills with Count Chocula?

My brother and I were talking about these cereals recently. We both agreed that the period of time that my mom was buying these cereals for us, was relatively short. She didn't tell us that she wasn't going to buy them for us anymore, but I think my brother and I moved on from the sugary cereals, just on our own.

JG said...

Tokyo, now that you mention Cocoa Pebbles, makes me think of Cocoa Krispies, which were like rice crispies, only chocolate flavored, and the chocolate would dissolve out into the milk, making chocolate milk.

The Cocoa Pebbles were even sweeter than the Cocoa Krispies, which were about as sweet as I could stand. Makes my skin crawl now thinking about it, Ha!

I don't recall how long I was eating these things, but it was probably grammar school into 8th grade. My habits changed in high school and I didn't care for sweets as much. This has lasted right up to the present. Very rare for me to eat desserts or chocolate now.


Major Pepperidge said...

I was definitely a fan of the sugary cereals - in fact I still would love nothing more than a bowl of Lucky Charms as my after-dinner dessert/snack. And there’s Cap’n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Krispies, Honey Smacks, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the list goes on and on! But I haven’t had any of those for a while, deciding to try to eat healthier.

As a “monster kid” I was crazy about the monster cereals, particularly the original two. Not sure I ever had “Yummy Mummy” to be honest. I have a couple of the old vinyl figures, my favorite being Frankenberry.

My brother bought some of the monster cereals a few years ago, and we both agreed that what people get today is not what we got originally. It’s hard to describe, but it seems more “puffed” and the flavor seemed different. My brother was devastated but somehow I wasn’t that upset.

My brother LOVED Quangaroos, which I did NOT like. I was also a “Quisp” kid, while he liked “Quake”. I miss Quisp, and bought a box not too long ago, it tasted just the same but it was expensive, and you got about 1.5 bowls out of the small box.

Fun post!!

TokyoMagic! said...

JG, I forgot about Cocoa Krispies. I've never tried them, either, but now I want to try some Rice Krispies squares made with them! It looks like those came out in 1958, so again, General Mills was wrong about Count Chocula being the first chocolate flavored cereal!

TokyoMagic! said...

Major, I hadn't even heard of "Yummy Mummy," until they re-released it. That's probably because it originally came out in 1988.... many years after the others were introduced.

I wouldn't be surprised if they had changed the "recipe" for these, over the years. My brother just got me a box of each of the original three monster cereals. I just might have to break into them, and actually try the cereal this time.

Maybe I should scan those new boxes and add them to the post. But the graphics aren't all that different than the 2013 "retro" boxes. They've just added a "special seal" on the front, stating that it's the 50th anniversary of the cereals.

Melissa said...

We only got name-brand cereals if there was a sale AND a good coupon, so I don't think we ever actually ate any of the monster cereals. But I always admired the boxes. If we did get a box of cereal with a prize inside, we weren't allowed to dig for it, but my impatient sister always gave in to temptation and never got in trouble for it. NOT THAT I'M STILL BITTER ABOUT IT.

I'm glad they didn't re-issue that 2013 "modern" artwork - that's painfully bad!

I wonder if they ever tried to market "Yummy Mummy" cereal in the UK, where that phrase is the equivalent of the American "MILF."

TokyoMagic! said...

Melissa, now that I think about it, my brother and I did dig down for the prize, or tilt the box until it was visible. I guess that temptation was just too great.

I didn't say anything earlier about the modern artwork, but yeah, I thought it was pretty dreadful (and not in a good way!) I did not purchase those "modern" boxes at the time. I just got the images from General Mills' official Flickr page.

I wasn't sure if you were joking about the term "Yummy Mummy"! I had never heard that term before, but I see that it is real! Ha, ha! Now I am imagining a "MILF" cereal on the shelves, here in the U.S.!

"Lou and Sue" said...

Count Chocula was one of my favorites. I agree with Major and his brother - these new ones are definitely different. There’s also a strange coating or glaze on the newer versions which makes them crunchier, and not as tasty. At least that’s how they were, several years ago. Sort of ‘blah.’

Fun post, TokyoMagic!

TokyoMagic! said...

Sue, now I will definitely have to try the new versions. I wonder if I will be able to remember and compare the taste from my childhood? We shall see!