If you were born in the U.S.A., chances are you grew up eating cereal and watching Saturday morning cartoons. And in the midst of those early morning adventures, spokespeople and animated mascots would temp and tantalize with even more varieties of intensely hued and sugar-loaded cereal.
This collection serves to showcase the trends of cereal over the years by showing us the ones which fell by the wayside.
But why collect cereal? No matter what your age, cereal seems synonymous with being a kid, more like a sweet treat than a breakfast staple. This collection is a chance to revisit some of these and also learn where they came from. In addition, cereal was once one of the most aggressively marketed items in our country, and advertising codes and standards have changed radically since the introduction of these goodies. Regulation of the market is a relatively new practice; this makes investigating the progression of cereal a useful and meaningful opportunity for study. Many of the items housed in this collection, especially the older ones, are an excellent way to look at our culture’s past, as well as the values, standards, and beliefs of our companies and the general public.
Dr. John Kellogg developed the first corn flake in 1896, and steadily, over the next half a century or so, the cereal business evolved into a multi-million dollar wonder.
What set one cereal apart from another over the years wasn’t much substantive difference between the varieties but instead creative names, appealing boxes, and fun, kid-friendly characters. And by the 1960’s, cereal advertisers were devoting 90% of their budgets to reaching children.
In the process of targeting the young ones, cereal companies also realized that kids want sugar. Lots of sugar. In 1939, a man named Jim Rex created the first sugared cereal, called Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnies. Ironically, he designed the cereal to minimize the amount of sugar children consumed. He reasoned that if he lightly sweetened his product, kids wouldn't add more sugar on top. He was wrong, and his good intentions were lost on bigger companies. After Ranger Joe sales skyrocketed, manufacturers started producing cereals such as Sugar Smacks, which contained a shocking 56% sugar.
With trusted radio, and later TV, personalities extolling the "energy-giving" virtues of cereal, impressionable children and their frazzled parents rushed to stores to buy some.
Today, the glory days of cereal may be behind us. Sugary concoctions that once brought families running, now are a bit of a deterrent. Regardless, cereal has captivated us for more than a century, and it has had a radical impact on American culture. The cereals in this collection may be gone, but they will not be forgotten.
You can access my complete list here . If you chose to contribute, please add a link to the list page.
All I can reasonably provide at this time are digital image files of each cereal box and as much textual information as I can scrape up to represent each cereal.
When contributing images include, when possible, a front and back view of each cereal box and, if available, side panels and nutritional information. Please drag images to the top of each page and drag the width out to 420px. Commercial videos are at default size from YouTube (330px). Please align these videos to the right or deselect text wrapping.
My digital images have been collected from Flickr and MrBreakfast.com.
Headings should be formatted as follows.
(such as “crispy rice cereal” or “naturally flavored flakes of corn”)
(anything of interest)
(Quaker, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Nabisco, Post, Ralston…)
(use one or the other, whichever is more fitting: character versus mascot)
(info + commercial)
(within the same theme)
And don't forget to add the appropriate category, brand, and exhibit. Also please disable the table of contents for each new page.
This site may contain some copyrighted images the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The copyright for these images is most likely held by either the company responsible for marketing the product or the manufacturer which produced the cover or product itself. In most cases the original source of online publication is unknown; however I do provide links to the immediate sources from which I derive my content. Images of these cereal boxes can already easily be found online. I am making such material available here for educational purposes only in an effort to study and uncover our society’s past, trends, values, and standards (when it comes to breakfast cereal). I believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.
Feel free to use or repost the information and images housed here in whatever way you see fit.my list and research each product on your own. If you do so, please add a hyperlink to the list page.
If anyone out there is researching this topic and would like a place to start, here it is. This is my complete annotated bibliography of contributing sources.