When you think of cereal you typically think of your childhood. Waking up on a Saturday morning watching cartoons until your parents tell you to stop and go outside or clean your room. Or maybe pouring a bowl of your favorite cereal before you ran off to school. Cereal is the staple of most childhoods, it is also a great late night snack. What goes good with snacking? Video Games. So what about Video Game cereals? The gimmick cereal that we all had to have and it didn’t matter if it was good or not, we still needed it. The cereal aisle was a huge display of brightly colored boxes all trying to get your attention. Trix, Fruity Pebbles and Fruit Loops were some of the biggest names out there and ones that as a kid, you could always count on. But what about the video games? What was out new and what prizes did they offer inside?
The cereal game is strong and over the years we have had some really good ones and some that we just ate because of the marketing or the toy inside. For this I had to do some serious research and dig deep into the pantry to find the ones that I remember as a kid and at times I wish I could have forgotten.
Nintendo Cereal System
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It would be hard to not talk about this cereal which was released in 1988 and discontinued in 1989. The cereal featured two of Nintendo’s most popular and successful games at the time. Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. The box was split down the middle for the packaging and came with two separate bags inside for each cereal.
The one side which was called the “Super Mario Bros. Action Series” contained fruity flavored cereal with items from the game like mushrooms, Goomba, Koopa Troopas and more. On the other side it was called “The Legend of Zelda Adventure Series” and contained a berry flavored cereal which had hearts, keys and boomerangs. Which fans of the game will recognize as items you had to have in the game.
Each box came with a collectable sticker inside and trading cards on the back. You could also enter to win a “Super Mario Bros.” bowl or a “NES Power Pad.” The real prize though comes from those that managed to keep a box unopened as they are selling anywhere from $100-$200. Which of course is much better than any cereal bowl or Power Pad.
Donkey Kong Cereal
In 1982 Ralston produced the Donkey Kong cereal which promoted it as being “crunchy barrels of fun for breakfast.” With Donkey Kong being the number one video game after dethroning Pac-Man, the cereal was a huge success. The cereal itself was shaped like barrels which of course Mario (at the time named Jumpman) had to jump over and avoid to reach Donkey Kong. The cereal had a very similar taste to another popular brand, Cap’n Crunch.
One of the highlights for this cereal was when it appeared on the Mr. Rogers Show. A episode when he went to the grocery store to show the kids how to shop. The cereal remained on the shelf until 1984.
Donkey Kong Junior Cereal
In 1983 a year before the Donkey Kong Cereal was no more (RIP) Donkey Kong Jr. came off the video games and into your pantry. This cereal was more of a favorite among kids then the original one not only because of the marketing but the actual cereal itself.
Instead of just barrels floating around in your bowl, DKJ was made up of fruit flavored and fruit shaped pieces. Much more colorful and fun to eat. It also came with trading cards inside,game book and a game on the back which his dad’s cereal did not offer. Although DKJ had a solid run as far as cereals are concerned, it was a short one like so many after. In 1984 just a year later it was all done for the little ape at least as far as food goes.
Pac-Man wasn’t happy after losing the crown to Donkey Kong so in 1983 General Mills released a Pac-Man cereal of their to take down Kong. The cereal had marshmallow versions of Pac-Man and all the ghosts. One thing I remember about this cereal is that it was like Kix but loaded with sugar. And if that wasn’t enough of a reason for my parents to never buy it, the prize inside was Ran-Blo bubblegum. So a sugar infused cereal with some sugar infused gum to eat after? Makes sense.
General Mills kept this on grocery stores shelves until 1985. So in the end the yellow dot eating, cherry loving Pac-Man out lasted Donkey Kong. Even the ghosts were happy about the win.
Sonic the Hedgehog Cereal
Sonic might have actually never had his own cereal but he was sort of a large marketing campaign in 1994 with Cheerios. It was all part of a large partnership with Sega to promote Genesis. It offered game tips, T-Shirt giveaways and more.
Eventually the plan was to launch Sonic’s very own cereal but plans changed and the only appearance he had was shared with the bee. They thought about reviving the program when Sonic hit the big screen but that also never transpired.
Moving into a more modern era, Pokemon finally made it into the world of breakfast and your pantry with its own style. The Pokemon craze took off in 1998 but Kellogg’s did not release the cereal until 2000. With a bright blue box and pictures of Pikachu and other popular Pokemon packed all over the front and back, it stood out on the shelf and ultimately found it’s way into most families shopping carts.
The original version of this cereal did not last very long and several boxes have been spotted on eBay for $50. But unlike most the video game cereals, you can still find a version of the Pokemon brand at many grocery stores such as Wal-Mart and Target or even order on Amazon. Other than the prizes and box,not much as changed with it. When you have a winner, why do anything different.
Super Mario Cereal
After years of sticking to the video games the Italian plumber made a comeback to the grocery stores with his own cereal brought to you by Kellogg’s. This time he is going solo though, sorry Luigi looks like you have to get your own.
In January of 2018 Mario came out swinging with his big red box of cereal and his famous face plastered all over it. A crunchy star packed bag with colored marshmallows that are supposed to look like game items and characters…but really they just look like blobs of color.
Even though this was a hit as far as themed cereals go, it was not a hit amongst fans and kids. One review even said ” I wonder if a spaghetti tasting cereal would be better than this.” another said ” I long for the day’s of the Nintendo Cereal System.” Ouch! What made it worse though was the taste of the stars. The stars had a “mixed berry glaze” on them that tasted more like a melted Crayola crayon then any sort of berry I have ever had or seen before. Some have even said that the stars taste like a lemon version of Kix, which of course sounds awful too.
You know it’s bad when Amazon doesn’t offer it anymore and Wal-mart passed on reordering. So if you wanted to try it, take it from me…you are not missing anything. Maybe it is time to call Luigi and see what he is up to these day’s because it can’t get any worse. I mean maybe a mushroom tasting cereal? Magic mushrooms? Hmmmm…. I mean they worked for Mario.
Minecraft Creep Crunch Cereal
Kellogg’s came back to the video game cereal ring with a huge win starting in 2020. MindCraft Creeper Crunch is everything a video game cereal needs. A highly popular video game, great box, great commercial and solid cereal. This one hits all those key marks. Creeper Crunch is a cinnamon cereal with marshmallows shaped like familiar MindCraft items from the game. One of the coolest features is that it comes with unlockable codes to be used in the game for clothes and accessories. If you don’t feel like sharing you can always purchase the family size on Amazon.
Kellogg’s also has plans to release another version of this cereal in Fall of 2021 but no details are released at this time.
The mid 90’s saw a huge drop off in video game themed cereal however. You could find the occasional limited box release like when the Funko Pop Mega Man came out or when Call of Duty had a short series in the store. However for the most part the video games stuck to doing what they do best and that’s make video games. Something that did continue to grow in popularity though was the collecting, buying and selling of those nostalgic brands.
Currently on eBay, a flat unused Donkey Kong Box is going for $1,795.95. Yes you might need to read that again. If that is a little too much for you, you can find a used one for only $15. Maybe you prefer the Donkey Kong Jr. brand better, no problem they have one for $61. Not a fan of Kong? Maybe Pac-Man is more your style, well you are in luck because on multiple web sites they have boxes both used and unused from $7.99-$25.00. Not to mention T-shirts, magnets and stickers of the cereal as well.
Of course I need to be fair and mention Mrs. Pac-Man’s special large marshmallows and pink bow brand that came out. Or the many different Star Wars cereals based off the video games and not the movies. Even Nintendo’s Game Boy had a cereal that was out….for six months before it was pulled over lack of sales.
G.I. Joe Cereal
Yes G.I. Joe is not considered a true video game cereal, but the brand did spawn several video games and of course a successful cartoon. So based on my very strict criteria, I am going to allow this to be a part of my trip down memory lane.
Released by Ralston (once again) in 1985 which was almost the same year as the cartoon, G.I.Joe was one of the most popular cereals around. Which makes sense because of the huge popularity with the toys and cartoon. The box featured over ten different characters from the show including, Duke, Cobra Commander, Destro, Gung-Ho and several others. Which of meant that each week you needed to have a new box with a new Joe on it.
The actual cereal itself was a oat/grain cereal in the shape of hollowed out stars. Picture lucky charms but no marshmallows in a sense. So less sugar in theory but you can’t be a G.I.Joe and eat marshmallows. One of the coolest features that separated this brand from others was the prize each box came with.
When it was first released the box came with G.I.Joe collector comic book and not some cheap made for marketing comics but real comic books. Throughout it’s very short run in the grocery stores they offered many cool prizes and giveaways to make kids bug their parents to buy. T-shirts giveaways, stickers, trading cards and even a special offer for a exclusive G.I.Joe action figure with a mail in card were some of the offers. A fun little fact was the action figure was only featured in animated forum on the commercial and never on the animated show. For those that want to know what the action figures name was, it was Starduster. If you didn’t know,now you know and knowing is half the battle.
Neopets Island Berry Crunch
In 2006 General Mills partnered with the web-based game Neopets and released it’s own cereal. It was basically Trix stripped down to only two colors/flavors that were based off of berries that exist in the Neopets world. The boxes included prizes or goodies that included Neopets TCG cards and codes that could be used on the website. At one point the mascot even had his own comic book. And in January 2006 “The Cereal Adventure Kitchen” opened and allowed all users one free bowl of cereal and day. However even that couldn’t save the brand and shortly after Neopets Islandberry Crunch was another victim of the cereal game.
We know the famous cereal Chex, I mean it has only been around since 1937. But are you familiar with the video game “Chex Quest?” The game was created in 1996 by Digital Cafe and was a non violent game created to promote the cereal amongst kids between the ages of six and nine. This was the first time a video game was sold with the cereal and it was a huge success. It won the Golden EFFIE Award for Effectiveness in 1996 and the Golden Reggie Award for Promotional Achievement 1998.
Chex Quest was played on the “DOOM” model and was also first person play. The plot was pretty simple, it takes place on another planet where slime based alien creatures kidnapped and enslaved the colonists. Of course the main hero ( Bazoik) is wearing Chex plated armor and has a weapon can that can teleport his enemies back to their home planet. So not exactly DOOM but an easy five level game for kids. And a pretty awesome reason to by cereal which is more than I can say about the “prizes” these days.
The game would have cost retailers around $35 but was added to the cereal with no extra cost. Although this was only six weeks promotion it grew the brand by 295%. The game was packaged in over 5.7 million boxes of cereal and had a budget of $500,000. The company was so impressed that in 2019 they released a sequel ( originally to be released in 2008) and a documentary which can be watched on YouTube. Not bad for a company that never developed a video game before or changed much from their traditional cereal concept.
Whatever games you play or the system you play them on, video games and cereals are partners in the gaming world. From the late night streaming sessions to the full blown out large scale missions, cereal is easy to and quick to eat so you can fuel up for the next boss. So why are the shelfs lacking video game themed cereals now? Is it just a sign of the times? Maybe a marketing change? Or have we outgrown the sugar based floating shaped of our favorite games? I mean surly that can’t be it. Lucky Charms, Count Chocula and more are still finding the way into our pantry. What do you think? What were some of your favorites growing up and do you have any now? Comment and give us your feedback on any I missed or should have mentioned.
Topics: Video Games, Nintendo
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