Cereal monsters, unlike the classic horror film characters that they’re based on, are anything but scary. And instead of classic films, the mascots with adorably punny names were relegated to shilling for General Mills during Saturday morning cartoon commercials.
But what some may not realize, is that there has been five monster-themed cereals, spanning over four decades. Some were successful, and remain in cereal aisles to this day, and some were Fruit Brute. Foodiggity investigates the backstory behind each monster cereal, why Franken Berry and Count Chocula rule, Boo Berry’s unexplainable success as a blue food item, and the failure of two oft-forgotten additions to the line-up.
Based on: Frankenstein
One of the original two monster-themed cereals introduced in 1971, Franken Berry was inspired by the classic Frankenstein’s monster. However, since Franken Berry was a strawberry-flavored breakfast offering, the only thing scary about this “monster” was his unfortunate shade of hot pink.
But the part about Franken Berry that was a bit frightening, was something that became known as “Frankenberry Stool.” When Franken Berry cereal was first introduced, the hot pink color was made possible by a food dye that was non-digestible. And needless to say, kids and parents were treated to quite a surprise when going to the bathroom.
Based on: Count Dracula
Along with Franken Berry, Count Chocula hit the scene in 1971. The mascot was based on the most popular and easily recognizable of movie monsters — Count Dracula. And while chocolate-flavored, it’s no wonder the cereal remains the most popular of the series. Now, with two cereal monsters in place, it set up classic monster vs. monster scenarios, as they vied for your attention, and tried to get you to eat their version of sugar-coated kiddie crack.
Based on: Ghosts
Boo Berry was the first monster added after the original lineup of 1971. Boo’s claim to fame… the first blueberry-flavored cereal. And while not having the same monster cache as its predecessors, Boo Berry became quite popular, stood the test of time, and is still available today.
But what was it about a blue cereal with a questionable monster spokesperson that helped it keep up with the Franken Berrys and Count Choculas of the cereal world? We think that a few monster cereals that were introduced later on hold the answer.
Based on: The Wolf Man
Flavor: Fruit Flavored with Lime Marshmallows
Fruit Brute was the fourth monster cereal, and the first multi-flavored installment. Unfortunately, the franchise already had their big three, and the Brute was inspired by a monster that often played third wheel to Lugosi’s Dracula, and Karloff’s Frankenstein. So, as a cereal, it didn’t fare much better. Introduced in 1974, it lasted about a decade until it became the first casualty of the monster cereal world.
But as we all know, when something gains a bit of popularity and is then inexplicably discontinued, it’s often a ticket to cult status. And the yearning for a Fruit Brute comeback was made that much stronger when it appeared in a few Tarantino films.
But why did Fruit Brute not hold up? Was it the lime marshmallows? The werewolf in rainbow overalls? The name was too rhymey? Perhaps it was a combination of things. But after its replacement didn’t do much better, we think we have the answer.
Based on: The Mummy
Flavor: Fruit Flavored with Vanilla Marshmallows
Yummy Mummy was introduced a few years after Fruit Brute was discontinued, and appeared to be nothing more than an attempt to resuscitate the fruit version of the monster cereals. This time, an even less popular movie monster was used as inspiration, and the lime marshmallows were replaced with vanilla. It turned out to have an even shorter shelf life than Fruit Brute, and was discontinued in 1993.
So what did the original three have that Brute and Mummy did not? Perhaps three monster-themed cereals were better suited for our trilogy-loving culture? Could it be that kids aren’t interested in the mere mention of fruit when having breakfast?
One thing that the big three do have in common — monochromaticity. Perhaps there’s something to be said about keeping a monster cereal all one color. Either way, the multi-colored cereal monsters failed, and only make rare appearances in merchandising and fan appreciation. Although, I’d take a brief appearance in a Tarantino flick over forty-years of limited release and garish redesigns any day.