“Wow! I got the spaceship!!” A lame Star Wars sticker promo (which seems to have been written by someone who hasn’t seen the movie) is grafted onto the end of an ad for breakfast cereals named after monsters. General Mills introduced the cereals in 1971, and thus began an American tradition of cartoon monsters hocking corn + marshmallows in colorful boxes.
Nowadays the cereals only appear on store shelves around Halloween, though you can buy them year-round on Amazon.
Count Chocula and Franken Berry are the two best known brands. Here’s another pretty awesome TV ad, note the “morning star” hair brush, nice touch. Why Frank & The Count are cross-dressing here… never quite explained.
Generally the monsters had a third wheel, Boo Berry, who they try to avoid / not let hang out with them. But in the end Boo usually scares the other two away. It’s never really explored that Franken & Boo have the same last name–maybe they are step-brothers? Makes you wonder about the deeper family issues.
Here Boo Berry gets stuffed in a candlestick (it’s okay, kids, he’s fine), and then we get the pitch for “Boo Hooters”.
The three main monsters are all takes on classic horror film stars: Frank is Boris Karloff, Count is Bela Lugosi, and Boo is Peter Lorre. Like Bugs Bunny stealing Groucho Marx‘s schtick, these ‘toons were simultaneously playing to the childhood tastes of the parents (who actually had to pay for the stuff) and using tried and true characters that just needed goofy puns added to make a great commercial.
Top that off with a bit of slapstick antic à la the Three Stooges plus a bit of The Little Rascals‘ petty kid drama (the aforementioned hiding from the kid brother stuff), and that probably explains why the cereals were popular then and continue to hold huge nostalgia value. It’s interesting that these ads ran with those two shows in the 70’s during afternoon reruns (not to mention The Munsters and The Addams Family).
Dedicated monster cereal fans will recall that there have been 2 fruit-flavored ghouls that were in the mix over the years, these are the Zeppo and Gummo of the Monster’s Marx Brothers act. The first pan-fruit monster was Fruit Brute. He has had an odd afterlife since being discontinued as a brand in 1983–Fruit Brute cereal has appeared in two Quentin Tarantino films.
Here are 2 commercials, I’m not sure why they keep putting things on each other’s heads…)
And finally, Yummy Mummy, who only lasted a few years…
In the 80’s the characters had a different look and bigger marshmallows. Offered without comment:
Count Chocula has enormous chocolaty marshmallows
Monsters in Outer Space (audio only) was on a promo flexi disc from 1979
If you aren’t already exhausted by this, there’s a whole blog about the Monster Cereals and there have been more General Mills cereals than you wanted to know existed (courtesy of MrBreakfast.com). But there may be a question about how much these frosted icons contributed to that mythical nutritious breakfast. For one thing Franken Berry was known to cause pink poop.