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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Five! Five Monster-Themed Cereals! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha...

The one thing that I absolutely love about Halloween is that as far as tricks and treats go, you truly never know what you are going to find.

I know back in the days when I used to don a Halloween costume and wander the streets armed with the strongest pillow case that I could find, I would stay out all hours of the night trying to gather whatever goodies I could get.  Then when I got back home, after my parents would sort through the candy, checking through it for unwrapped pieces of candy or treats that could have been tampered with (because as much as we all would like trick-or-treating to be a safe and positive experience, I know that this isn’t always the case), I would have first dibs.

Growing up with two siblings who were a considerable age older that I was, and having both of them quit trick-or-treating around the same time I began, I really had to watch them like hawks.  Otherwise, they would have gobbled up the really delicious chocolates, candies, and potato chips, leaving me with licorice lollipops, raisins, Popeye candy sticks, and those disgusting taffy-like candies in the black and orange wrappers.

Yeah.  Those.  Apparently they’re known as Mary Jane Peanut Butter Kisses.  And, apparently, I was wrong in thinking that it was impossible to completely screw up something as delicious as peanut butter.

Luckily, those candies happened to be my mom’s all-time favourite...and considering how long I stayed out on Halloween night to get candy, she often had enough of them to last her until Valentine’s Day!

Thank goodness that you can only get those candies once a year on Halloween.  But the truth is that there are so many other Halloween foods that you can only get on Halloween, and 2012 seems to be a year in which you never have a shortage of brand new, limited time only treats...well, provided you live in Canada.

For one, I think we Canadians are the only ones in the world (unless there are specialty shops in the United States) that have modified the sweetness of a Cadbury Creme Egg into the green-centered spooky Cadbury Screme Egg!  This is the first year that I have ever seen them being offered as a Halloween treat, and although I am typically not a fan of them (even someone with a notorious sweet tooth as myself finds them too rich), I might end up sampling a couple of them to see if they are just as delicious as their Easter counterparts.

I notice that some of Nestle’s most famous chocolate bars in Canada have changed their names as well to reflect the spirit of Halloween.  When else can you find “Scaero” (Aero), “Scaries” (Smarties), or “Coffin Crisp” (Coffee Crisp)?  I don’t think you’d be able to find them at Christmas!

Even at the breakfast table, you could find some rather spooky characters hanging around your home right around Halloween.  I should know, I ended up practically begging my parents to throw in a box of my favourite cereal that I could only get during the month of October.

That cereal was “Count Chocula”, and it happened to also be the first of five monster-themed cereals that the General Mills company released beginning in the early 1970s.

And, since I’ve brought this up, why don’t we take the opportunity to talk about Count Chocula, and the other cereals that could be served as part of a nutritious, if not spooky breakfast?

In October 1971, General Mills issued the first two cereals in the “Monster” line.  Count Chocula was the first to be released, and simultaneously was the only Monster cereal that I actually liked.  But then again, I have a chocolate addiction so strong that I am surprised that I haven’t been checked into “Chocoholics Anonymous” yet.  No longer did I have to buy Lucky Charms and Cocoa Pebbles and mix them together!  The cereal came with chocolate cereal pieces and marshmallows!  This was the perfect cereal...well, in the eyes of a six-year-old boy, anyway. 
The mascot of Count Chocula was obviously supposed to be a Count Dracula knockoff.  During the earliest commercials for Count Chocula, voice artist Larry Kenney voiced Count Chocula taking lots of inspiration from Bela Lugosi!

But did you know that Count Chocula wasn’t the only cereal to be released in October 1971?  Also on the market was “Franken Berry”, a pink, strawberry-flavoured cereal with a giant pink Frankenstein inspired monster as its spokespersonmonster.  In the commercials, Franken Berry was voiced by Bob McFadden, channeling Boris Karloff.  There were lots of kids who loved eating Franken Berry cereal, but three months after the cereal went on the market, parents and kids started to notice one major side effect caused by the cereal.  Because the dye that was used to colour the cereal was one that was unable to break down and digest it, the end result meant that when children had to use the came out pink!

(If there was anyone out there who was around in 1971/1972 trying this cereal for the first time reading this blog right now, can you verify this to be the truth?  Because if that is the case, that would be quite disturbing!)

I’m not even going to test this theory out myself because I happen to hate strawberry flavoured food.  I have an allergy to strawberries anyway, and I cannot stand artificially flavoured strawberry cereals.  But I imagine that food dyes have come a long way in forty years.  At least, one can hope.

In 1973, a third Monster cereal was released, and this one was particularly special because it was widely reported to be the very first example of a blueberry flavoured cereal ever used.  That cereal, of course, was “Boo Berry”.  Boo Berry was a little blue ghost who was voiced by Paul Frees, and the actor that he got inspired by was Peter Lorre.  You can view the commercial for Boo Berry below.

You know, one thing that I always regretted was that I never got the chance to try Boo Berry cereal.  I may have hated strawberry flavoured things, but I was always a fan of blueberry.  And, sure, the cereal inside looked more purple than blue, but I still would have liked to have tried it just once.  I don’t even remember seeing it in Canada, so I have no idea if it even made it across the border.  But, I see that it, along with Franken Berry and Count Chocula are still made seasonally, so maybe I’ll get a chance yet.

There were also two other Monster cereals made, but both of those have been discontinued, and you won’t be able to find them in least not yet.  But just in case you were wondering what they were, I’ll share them with you now.

The first discontinued cereal was introduced exactly one year after Boo Berry was brought onto the market.  In 1974, “Fruit Brute” found its way into supermarkets all over North America, with its mascot being an orange werewolf. 
The cereal was discontinued in 1983, so it was a cereal that I was way too young to remember.  I actually had to look it up because I didn’t think that there was such a cereal.  But given the description of the cereal, I can probably see why it didn’t last.  It was a rather unusual flavour.  The cereal bits were fruit flavoured, so I would assume that they were flavoured like Trix, or Froot Loops.  But the marshmallows were also given a lime flavour, which to me didn’t make a lot of sense.  But then again, I was a kid who preferred marshmallows to be original, and not fruit flavoured.  I guess maybe that’s why the description turned me off a little.

The final Monster cereal came sixteen years after the first one was released, in 1987.  Fruity Yummy Mummy” featured a multicoloured mummy character decked out in bandages of orange, yellow, purple, and pink...coincidentally the same colours as the cereal pieces and marshmallows.  It was basically a reintroduction of Fruit Brute, only with different flavours of cereal and marshmallows (instead of lime, the marshmallows were vanilla flavoured).

I would also like to say that I regret missing out on this cereal too, because it actually sounded like one that would be somewhat delicious.  Unfortunately, the cereal has been off the market for almost twenty years, so unless I want stale cereal, I guess I would be completely out of luck, huh?

So, I suppose in terms of how I would rank the cereals in my own mind (keeping in mind that I’ve only ever really had one), I would rank the order as this from most willing to try to less willing.


2.      BOO BERRY




Well, how about you?  Do you have any memories of General Mills monster-themed cereals?  Share them below, if you like!

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