A Guide to Failed Cereal Mascots
At this point, everyone is very well-acquainted with Tony the Tiger, the Trix Rabbit, and Snap, Crackle, and Pop. The cereals' mascots were just as big a part of the morning as the stuff you poured in a bowl (or, let's be real, ate out of the box). But not all cereal mascots can be winners—and not all cereals are either. Cartoonist Lucas Adams hunted down some of the mascots that didn't quite make it.
One of the earliest faces slapped on a cereal box was Sunny Jim for the authoritarian-sounding “Force” a wheat flake cereal. Sunny Jim started out as the lowly Jim Dumps who was magically transformed by his encounter with Force, as documented in this jingle:
So prolific was the ad campaign for the cereal that a contemporary claimed that Jim Dumps: “is as well-known as President Roosevelt or J. Pierpont Morgan." Force and Jim would have a long shelf-life: the cereal only stopped being made in 2013.
Cliffy The Clown
In 1949, ABC launched the TV show Super Circus starring Cliffy the Clown and his sidekicks Scampy and Nicky. When the puffed wheat cereal Sugar Smacks launched in 1953, Cliffy became its official mascot appearing on the box and in commercials. He would be replaced as official spokesperson in 1956 by the cartoon seal Smaxey, who in the turmoil of the 1960s would be replaced for brief stints by Quick Draw McGraw, The Smackin' Bandit, The Smackin' Brothers, until the Dig ‘Em Frog took over in 1972.
The Most Useful Protein
When Life Cereal launched in 1961, it was pitched as a healthy breakfast cereal option, with the breathless tagline: "[the] most useful protein ever in a ready-to-eat cereal." The protein was presented as an actual cartoon protein, a cheerful white droplet equipped with a Quaker hat. The protein was axed by 1967 as Life took a different marketing direction, but it wouldn’t be until 1972 that Mikey liked Life.
In the 1974 a blue kangaroo with sunglasses and a stand up bass shilled a blue cereal called Ooo-Bopperoos (a phrase trademarked by Nabisco), shortened to Bopperoos. His jingle went like this:
But the kangaroo was a blip on the breakfast landscape, only seeming to be available between 1974-75. Booperoos elusiveness is made clear by the website Mr. Breakfast: “Old boxes of Ooo-Bopperoos are seemingly impossible to find and are a Holy Grail item among the most die-hard cereal box collectors.”
Surprisingly, the Captain Crunch cinematic universe is a vast one. It includes the Captain’s nemesis Jean Le Foote, the signalman Woody, Seadog, Magnolia Bulkhead, Wilma the Winsome White Whale, and even a green, one-eyed alien version of the Captain. One of the strangest characters paired with the Captain was Chockle a shape-shifting chocolate chip cookie dough trickster demon that plagued the Captain in the 1980s. Chockle was featured in a TV commercial and on the box to promote Coco-Crunch, the chocolate variety. Although the cereal was rebooted in the early 2000s, Chockle was absent from promotion.
Between 1972 and 1976, the band of sentient growths known as the Freakies loomed over the breakfast cereal landscape. Boss Moss, Cowmumble, Gargle, Goody-Goody, Hamhose, and Snorkledorf were on a quest aboard their ship, The FreakyFlower, to reach the Freaky Tree, where they would be able to eat unlimited Freakies cereal, a puffed sugar puffs). Thankfully, all attempts to revive this cereal have failed.
Sir Grapefellow and Baron von Redberry
Two World War I flying aces in a battle to the death over their respective General Mills brand of Oat cereal with flavored marshmallows in the early 1970s, Sir Grapefellow and Baron von Redberry. They battled over cereal boxes and the airwaves, With their competitive catchprases: "Baron Von Redberry is der berry goodest!" and "Sir Grapefellow is the grapest!"
But it’s unclear if it was worth fighting for either side. Mr. Breakfast’s anecdotal accounts present a grim portrait of Grapefellow’s smell: “the fragrance of artificial grape was incredibly strong when a box of the cereal was first opened” and the taste of Redberry: “The flavor of the cereal has been described as being similar to fruit punch.”