12 Once-Popular Cereals You Wouldn't Touch Today
Crisps, flakes, puffs, squares, O's: cereal comes in all shapes and sizes and has been an American breakfast staple for decades.
Of course, today's market is dominated by brands like Cheerios and Cap'n Crunch—which seem to bless our bowls with new adaptations every week. But, many others have passed through the cereal industry's crowded halls at one time or another as well, introducing new names, mascots, and tastes (or just repackaged tastes) to hungry, breakfast-loving consumers.
While there are many of these cereal blasts from the past we would do anything to taste just one more time, there are a few which are best left as but a distant memory—many even make us wonder why anyone ate, or for that matter created, them in the first place.
Read on to be reminded of a few of the most ill-advised cereals throughout our history—variations which should have been branded as "Uh-Oh's."
Nerds candy really doesn't belong on the breakfast table. But, back in the early 1980s, the Willy Wonka Candy Company would have disagreed. Nerds "Tiny Tangy Crunchy Sweetened Cereal" followed in the candy's footsteps and divided its boxes into two completely separate sides with two different flavors. One diverged box included orange and cherry, while the other contained strawberry and grape-flavored bits. Not surprisingly, the candy cereal was immediately popular among children, especially because boxes also offered free giveaways like Nerds collectible pins, fruit-scented markers, two-handled mugs, and more. In today's more health-conscious world, we doubt this reconfiguration of candy into breakfast cereal would have even made it to shelves.
Nickelodeon had a bad habit of "sliming" everything and everyone in the early 2000s—especially at the famed Kids' Choice Awards. Unfortunately, the toxic green substance began to seep into breakfast as well. The network's Green Slime cereal consisted of green slime blob corn puffs and orange marshmallows, which were meant to resemble the Nickelodeon blimp logo and award. And, your assumptions are correct. The novelty cereal would turn milk an unappetizing shade of green.
We know this cereal was named after a character from TV's The Simpsons, but we're not touching any food described as "krusty"—even if it's frosted. On the boxes, you could find Krusty the Clown holding a squirming bowl full of worms, screws, and other identified objects. The text also read, "flesh-eating bacteria in every box" and "the best you can expect from a T.V. clown." Although the product also assured there was in fact no metal or dangerous pieces in the cereal and it was actually "Sweetened Multi-Grain Cereal with Natural Fruit Flavors," we'll still pass.
Adding fresh banana slices to your morning cereal is fairly common and a delicious combo. But, Wackies attempted to take it one step further by throwing sweet banana marshmallow bits right in with its uniquely-shaped oat cereal. Some consumers took a liking to it, comparing it to more of a banana-flavored Lucky Charms variation. But, shoppers quickly tired of the undoubtedly artificial banana flavoring and the cereal was discontinued after just a few years on the market.
Banana Frosted Flakes
Again with the banana? Really? The banana version of one of America's favorite cereals emerged in 1981, but has since joined the Frosted Flakes graveyard of failed flavors. The boxes dressed up Tony the Tiger in a straw hat carrying a large bunch of bananas on his shoulder. And, as for the cereal itself, Kellogg's blasted each and every flake with small banana fragments to achieve the desired flavor. Apparently, after a few years on shelves, the cereal started to lose its "appeel." But, nearly 40 years later in 2019, the company unveiled essentially the same product in new packaging called Banana Cream Frosted Flakes. Now, that's bananas!
Pink Panther Flakes
Maybe detective Jacques Clouseau can get to the bottom of why this cereal was so adored during the 1970s. Post's Pink Panther Flakes looked exactly the way you would imagine them to: unnaturally bright, bubble-gum pink and coated with plenty of sugar. It's also been said that the pink coloring would melt right into your milk just seconds after it was poured. Sounds to us like this cereal certainly wasn't a pink diamond in the rough, and it has been discontinued since 1980.
This cereal, made by Ralston, was accompanied by an army of outlandish and colorful critters each with their own unique personality. In early advertisements, the group was in search of a magical tree which produces endless supplies of the sweetened cereal. In later years, the company reintroduced the product, this time trading the original crunchy rings for brown spaceship-shaped pieces along with marshmallow bits. Unfortunately, the new darker-colored discs were reminiscent of dry dog food more than anything else—for which the Ralston Purina Company was also ironically well-known.
Orange juice is one of the most popular drinks to enjoy with breakfast and a great source of vitamin C. But, most consumers want it in a glass on the side and not mixed right into their cereal bowls. Unfortunately, Kellogg's didn't get that memo, and the company's OJ's were unleashed on the world in 1985. Real oranges could be seen on the front of the boxes along with the cereal's trusty rancher mascot "OJ Joe." It appeared to consist of both small spheres and ring-shaped pieces, and promised to deliver, "All the Vitamin C of a 4-Oz Glass of Orange Juice".
Along with oranges, add grapes to the list of fruits that just don't belong in breakfast cereals. Sir Grapefellow was a British World War I pilot and his product was described as a "Grape-Flavored Oat Cereal + Sweet Grape Starbits" (essentially just small marshmallows in the shape of a star). When the cereal was released in the 1970s, General Mills concurrently released Baron Von Redberry–Grapefellow's German opponent who backed a red berry version of the cereal. Sorry, Sir Grapefellow, we think that Von Redberry may have won this round.
We think the peanuts are really what throws this one off. Kellogg's Triple Snack was released in 1964 and the misplaced roasted peanuts combined with sugar puffed corn and sugar puffed wheat to form the cereal. The blue giraffe on the front of the box appears to love the mix, popping it right into his mouth, but he may have been one of the cereal's only fans. To make matters worse, it was also commonly advertised with the message, "Triple Snack will get you if you don't watch out." We're glad this threatening trail mix is no longer a breakfast option.
Forget about the flavor or quality of this one. The cereal's ice cream cone headed mascot staring right into your soul was likely enough to make shoppers run in the other direction without ever opening the box. But, for those customers brave enough to peek inside, they would have found an unpleasant mix of ring-shaped oat pieces and chunks of real freeze-dried ice cream—yes, you heard that right. As if one variation of this atrocity wasn't enough, it also came in three different flavors including Vanilla, Strawberry, and Orange. Kellogg's pulled the dairy-based cereal within mere months after its release.
Addams Family Cereal
The recently released television show Wednesday has unquestionably sparked a renewed interest in the Addams Family's creepy clan. But, the fictional family has been one of America's favorites since the original series debuted in 1964. So much so that the spine-chilling group even earned a place on the cereal shelf in 1991 along with the premiere of the family's very first feature film. Like the Addams Family, the cereal was definitely mysterious and spooky with pieces resembling skulls, headless bodies, and the show's detached hand character called "Thing." But, the scariest part was the taste, which apparently left much to be desired. After the initial hype wore off, customers stopped picking up the ominous boxes, and the Addams Family Cereal was gone in snap.