The Boxtop - Cereal Netletter
Volume 2, Number 2 February 2000

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Reader's Poll
Where do you usually eat your cereal in the morning?

At the kitchen/dining room table.
In front of the TV set.
In the kitchen, while standing.
In the car.

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February 2000 Features

Character Profile: L. C. Leprechaun
Where Have All The Cereal Prizes Gone?
Cereal Reviews - Kellogg's Crispix and Ralston (General Mills) Chex
What's New in Cereal?

Character Profile: L. C. Leprechaun
by Topher

L. C. LeprechaunBorn in 1964, L. C. Leprechaun, or "Lucky" for short, has touted General Mills Lucky Charms cereal for 35 years. Lucky the Leprechaun's claim to fame is that he alone can magically change ordinary, shapeless white marshmallows into "Magically Delicious" shapes with bright colors.
Originally he put the pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers into Lucky Charms cereal. In 1975 he added blue diamonds. Purple horseshoes arrived in 1984. Red balloons were added in 1989.

In 1991 the star-in-balloon replaced both the red balloon and the orange star. A blue, yellow and pink rainbow was added in 1992. The yellow and orange Pot of Gold replaced the yellow moon in 1994.

Never one to sit still for too long, he added new brighter colors in 1995. Along with the return of the moon (only now it is blue), he changed the star from a 6-point to 5-point shape. The following year, a dark green clover in a light green hat replaced the green clover.

The primary marshmallow shapes, as of January 1999, were: red balloons, blue moons, pink hearts, multicolored rainbows, yellow and white shooting stars, Lucky's green hat with a green clover, orange and yellow pot of gold, and purple horseshoes.

As the story goes, a predatory whale swirled the colors on the marshmallows in 1986, and was subsequently "punished" by being turned into a rainbow-colored whale marshmallow for a limited time. Green pine trees were featured as an Earth Day promotion, and an annual Christmas version of Lucky Charms includes festive holiday marshmallows. Olympic "Marbits" (1996) and "Twisted" (1997) two-color shapes: Pot of Gold, Moon, Balloon, Horseshoe, and Heart have been boxed.

In early 1999, General Mills wanted to celebrate an "Around the World Event" with globally famous marshmallow shapes. Lucky created the green and yellow torch, gold pyramid, blue Eiffel Tower, orange Golden Gate Bridge, purple Liberty Bell, pink and white Leaning Tower of Pisa, red and white Big Ben clock, and green and white Alps.

Later in 1999, Lucky changed the shapes back to their previous shapes, except he modified the blue moons by giving them a yellow mouth and called them "Man in the Moon". (It was Lucky's idea. He was anxious to try out a green space suit with a bubble helmet that NASA had sent him).

While Lucky has the magic to create great shapes, he is vulnerable to having kids catch him. When they catch him, they get to eat his treasured cereal.

Footnote: Lucky was fired by General Mills back in 1975. He was replaced by Waldo the Wizard, a man in a green wizard's cap and gown (and black sneakers on his feet). Waldo turned out to be a fraud and magically disappeared from boxes one year later. Lucky was rehired in 1976 and continues his work to this day.

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Where Have All The Cereal Prizes Gone?
by Topher

"Mom, it was my turn to get the prize! And Tom spilled cereal all over the floor!" I miss fighting with my brothers over who got the great cereal box prizes. Growing up in the 1960's and 1970's, you couldn't help but to ask your Mom, something innocent like: "Mom, can we buy Freakies? It's got a great prize inside". Usually Mom bought the cereal --- provided you promised to eat it all.

Almost every kids cereal included a "free prize inside" like a character figurine or spoonsitter. And if you were lucky, you could also send in a few boxtops for Quisp's Propeller Hat, Quake's Miner's Helmet or other great toy. Most mail-in offers were cereal character-specific and not unrelated movie-of-the-month junk which currently prevails. Our kids hardly know what a cereal prize looks like!

There is no question that parents are more likely to buy a cereal for their kids that has cool prizes inside than one without prizes. The reason is simple --- it's what the kids want! (If you don't believe me, ask yourself why you've been eating at Burger King). What's great, is that most cereals today are better for kids than those of our youth.

When asked if they would consider adding prizes to their cereals again, the major manufacturers standard reply was "At this time the marketing folks have chosen not to have prizes in the packages. However, that decision can be changed at any time." Sounds like they need some prodding from consumers. My guess is no cereal company wants to open Pandora's Box and start a prize war. Frankly, I'd love it!

For a look at some old premiums, check out Pretty Good Toys and Tick-Tock Toys. See Prize'N'Side for additional commentary and information.

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Cereal Review
by Topher

Kellogg's Crispix
Ralston (General Mills) Chex

Crispix Kellogg's Crispix "corn on one side, rice on the other" was introduced a number of years ago. It was a great idea. It combined two grains into a pillowed square which stays crispy in milk for a reasonable period of time. One reason is that it floats. I am guessing Crispix has taken some market share from the old Ralston (now General Mills) Corn Chex and Rice Chex line.
Maybe it's just the boxes that arrive in Hawaii, but I find these two Chex cereals have a slight cardboard flavor relative to the more flavorful Crispix cereal. I've even tried mixing the Rice and Corn Chex in the same bowl. Bad idea. It doesn't work. The hard-to-find (retired?) Bran Chex and easy-to-find Wheat Chex are quite good and definitely the best of the Chex line.

While I was among the first to experiment with Crispix as a replacement in our holiday Chex Mix / Crispix Mix recipe, I won't claim I invented it. (It wasn't until about two years after we substituted Crispix for Corn and Rice Chex that Kellogg's started printing recipes on its box). My guess is that a lot of people made the switch and word eventually got back to Kellogg's. My recipe is a hybred of the Ralston and Kellogg's recipes. You definitely won't find it on the back of any cereal box. Give it a try. Then send me your favorite cereal recipes. I'm game.

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What's New In Cereal?
by Topher

Quaker Oats Cap'n Crunch

Topher Cap'n Crunch has done it again! Went AWOL. This isn't the first time his mug has disappeared from boxes of Cap'n Crunch cereal. It happened in 1985 and they found him in the Milky Way, of all places.

Was he kidnapped? Is the good Cap'n losing his marbles? Or is he "on strike" in an attempt to get a long-overdue promotion? Time will tell.

Company President, Thomas J. Spoonworthy, was quoted as saying, "I can't eat! I can't sleep! And with the factory shut down, I can't even go to work!" Mr. Spoonworthy posted a $1,000,000 reward for Crunch's return.

Quaker Oats has also set up an official "Where's the Cap'n" site which includes interactive games and hints. As for the Cap'n, we should find out his whereabouts this Spring.

It has long been rumored that the real Cap'n Crunch's is still missing since the first disappearance. Sharp-eyed consumers noticed that the Captain's appearance looked strangely different when he reappeared on boxes in 1986. Quaker Oats says it's true! They change his appearance from time to time, and the 1985 disappearance was a chance to do just that.

What changes does Quaker have in store for the Cap'n this time?

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Reader's Poll Results
If a character prize were offered "free inside", would you be more likely to buy the cereal?
Yes! 100%
No! 0%
This is an unscientific survey based upon 8 voluntary responses in our January 2000 Reader's Poll.

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