Tuesday, February 21, 2012

From the Cereal Aisle......

Products: Video Game Cereals (Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Pac-Man, Nintendo Cereal
Companies: Ralston & General Mills
Years: Pac-Man (1983), Donkey Kong (1982), Donkey Kong Jr. (1983), Nintendo (1988)

When I think of the 80's, 3 things really stand out in my head. The Video Game crazy, Saturday Mornings with my favorite box of cereal, and that time in 3rd grade that Brett Peterson game me an atomic wedgie after lunch because I wouldn't give him my pudding cup.
2 of those things gave me enjoyment that I look back upon with much happiness. (the other one I'm still trying to forget. 3rd graders can be so mean.) Cereal and Video games go hand in hand, so much so that in the 80's they crossed over from your Atari/NES systems right into your cereal bowl.

Donkey Kong Cereal (1982)
Ralston - Donkey Kong cereal box - 1983
Image by Jason Liebig

The first of the big Video Game cereals, Donkey Kong first took over the video game world (overtaking the sales of Pac-Man in 1981), then made it's way into the cereal aisle in 82. Was sold with the tag ling "Crunchy Barrels of Fun", but should have just been sold as "Captain Crunch Knockoff", because that is basically what it was.

Pac-Man Cereal (1983)
1980's General Mills Pac-Man Cereal Box Front
Image by Gregg Koenig

Not to be outdone, General Mills came out with Pac-Man Cereal in 1983. Branded as "crunchy sweetened corn cereal with marshmallow bits", the marshmallows were shaped like Pac-Man, and the ghost: Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Mrs. Pac-Man Marshmallows were later added. The cereal itseld would be like if you took an extra sweetened Kix and threw in Lucky Charms Marshmallows for good measures. Sounds like a lot of sugar. I guess kids wanted to be just like Pac-Man: void of teeth.

Donkey Kong Jr., Cereal (1983)
1984 Donkey Kong Jr Cereal Box w Super-Stars Baseball Cards
Image by Bolia88

Ralston couldn't stand seeing Pac-Man cereal cutting into their profits from Donkey Kong Cereal, so naturally, they followed up just as they had with the video games, and introduced Donkey Kong Jr., Cereal. "DKJC", as it was often called by nobody, was a fruit flavored cereal with little banana and berry shaped pieces. It was a fun and overly sweet cereal, as were many of the best cereals in the 80's.

Nintendo Cereal (1988)
Ralston - Nintendo Cereal System box - Fruity and Berry - 1988
Image by Jason Liebig
In the mid to late 80's, the Nintendo Entertainment System became the gaming console of the world, leaving Atari in it's dust. So it was only natural that they capture some of that crazy in the form of cereal.
Much like Nerds Cereal, the box was split into 2 sections. On one side, you has Super Mario Brothers Cereal (Fruit-flavored Marios, Mushrooms and Goomas). On the other, Zelda Adventure Cereal (Berry-flavored Links, Hearts and Shields.)
"Nintendo Cereal System. If you can't beat 'em, eat 'em. "

Nicely done, Nintendo.....nicely done.

Friday, February 17, 2012

From the Beverage Aisle: Orbitz

Product: Orbitz
Company: Clearly Canadian Beverage Corp.
Years: 1997-?


"This Drink Has Balls" is the slogan that I thought Clearly Canadian should have used in their marketing of this product, but sadly, they never responded to my letters. I thought they'd maybe want to be cutting edge, I mean, they were already using a Z in place of the S in the name, so they are one step removed from a catchy, possibly in poor taste catch phrase (sorry to use the phrase "Poor Taste" around you, Orbitz.....I know it's a touchy subject.)

In 1997, Clearly Canadian Beverage Corp.  was looking to expand on their line of Carbonated Fruit beverages called "Clearly Canadian"(I always liked the Coastal Cranberry). What they came up with, however, was frankly frightening. It was something I have never seen in all my years of, well, drinking liquid. What they came up with was a noncarbonated fruit-flavored beverage, but not just any noncarbonated fruit-flavored beverage, but one that had small edible balls floating in it. They marketed it as a "texturally enhanced alternative beverage".

I don't know about you, but I don't enjoy chewing when I should be drinking.

The small balls floated due to their nearly equal density to the surrounding liquid, and remained suspended because of an ingredient known as gellan gum. It sort of looked like a lava lamp. That you could drink. If for some reason you ever wanted to drink a lava lamp.

Orbitz came in several flavors:
  • Raspberry Citrus
  • Blueberry Melon Strawberry
  • Pineapple Banana Cherry Coconut
  • Vanilla Orange
  • Black Currant Berry
  • Charlie Brown Chocolate

For obvious reasons, Orbitz disappeared from convenient stores across America, almost as quickly as it's floating balls arrived. It was a fad, and I'm sure they made money off it. But like all fads, you blink and it's gone.

Seriously, though, would you drink this?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

From the Cereal Aisle: Crazy Cow

Product: Crazy Cow cereal
Company: General Mills
Years: 1977-?

If you ever see a Crazy Cow, turn the other way, and run. You don't want to mess with them. Hundreds of people are severely injured or killed every year by Crazy Cows. I have no facts to back that up, so don't ask for them. But my mom says I'm a pretty trustworthy person, so it's cool.

However, if you ever see a box of Crazy Cow cereal on the shelves, it means that General Mills is bringing back their hit cereal from the late 70's, and you should purchase that box right away. Take it home, pour yourself a bowl, and laugh with delight as your milk turns chocolatey brown (or pink for you Strawberry fans.) Then, enjoy.

Crazy Cow hit the shelves in late 1976/early 1977 and took the cereal aisle by storm. The gimmick? General Mills took your basic Kix and covered them in a powder (Chocolate or Strawberry) that dissolved in milk and left you with a sweet flavored bowl of deliciousness. And who cares if there was no real chocolate or Strawberries in them (as the box proclaimed "artificially flavored".)

Another cool thing about Crazy cow was the box, as they perfectly captured the dangers of a Crazy Cow in their Cartoon rendering: Wears a hat? Crazy. Stands on it's hind legs? Crazy. Has teeth that could gnaw off your face? Creepy.
And Crazy.

Sadly, the cereal was just a short lived fad and didn't last in stores, but the memories still remain in our hearts. We miss you, Crazy Cow.

Crazy Cow Newspaper Ad 1977

Friday, February 10, 2012

From the Snack Aisle: Peanut Butter Boppers

Product: Peanut Butter Boppers
Company: General Mills/Nature Valley
Years: Mid-Late 80's

Yep, two Peanut Butter related posts in a row. Oh, yes I did. I guess for me, Peanut butter is the ultimate snack ingredient - goes with so many different things, salty or sweet. It's the alpha ingredient. Maybe that's why so many beloved snacks of today and days gone buy contained the wonderful gooeyness of Peanut Butter. Today, I want to highlight one of them. Ladies and Gentlemen: I give you Peanut Butter Boppers.

1986 Nature Valley - Peanut Butter
Boppers - Peanut Crunch flavor box
Box image by daniel85r on Flickr

Nature Valley (General Mills is their parent company) came up with the idea to take Peanut Butter logs (from Peanut Butter trees in the Peanut Butter Forest, I'm assuming..................) and roll it up in other delicious things, like oats, rice crispies, chocolate chips, and whathaveyou.
They even had Peanut Butter rolled up and covered with chopped peanuts.
Holy crap. They may as well have included an EpiPen in the box, because if you had even the slightest hint of a peanut allergy, Peanut Butter logs rolled in peanuts would have been like putting a shotgun in your mouth. A delicious Peanuty shotgun. But I digress....

But there were more varieties then just "Death by Peanuts" - there was also Fudge Chip, Honey Crisp, Cookie Crunch and Fudge Graham, so you had plenty to choose from.

And who could forget about the cool 50's looking graphics that dressed up the box? It certainly stood out on the shelves, that's for sure. Unfortunately, it didn't stand out well enough, as their popularity left just as quickly as it came.

I'm not sure if these will ever return, but there are petitions online (like with so many childhood favorites) to get Nature Valley to go back into the Peanut Butter forest and start chopping some more Peanut Butter logs. Because we're hungry. Hungry for a snack that's 0% nutritious, but 100% delicious. Bring Back Boppers.

General Mills - Peanut Butter Boppers - trade ad - July 1986
flickr image by Jason Liebig

Monday, February 6, 2012

From the Cereal Aisle: PB&J

Product: PB&J Cereal
Company: Quaker
Years: 1982-not long after that

Here is a quick post about a product that was given to us and ripped away just as quickly. It was a cereal called PB&J. It was a limited release from what I understand and lasted maybe a year if it was lucky. Which probably explains why I can find very little info about it and have never seen an actual PB&J box, only animation cells like his one.

PB was the name of the main Character, an Explorer by trade, and J was his trusty sidekick dog. They donned matching white suits and pith helmets, and brought us a wonderful Breakfast treat.

But Quaker took it all away from us. The Cereal never took off the way Quaker had hoped, and PB and his dog J disappeared. I think they were murdered. I'll let you know when I can prove it.

So how come there hasn't been another attempt at a Peanut Butter and Jelly cereal? I mean, we have seen lots of Peanut Butter cereals, and Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cereals, but why not PB&J? I think it would be hugely popular. I know my kids would love it. I mean, they love that horrible song (It's Peanut Butter Jelly time! Peanut Butter Jelly Time!)
So awful.

Were you one of the lucky ones who actually got to eat this breakfast treat? Were you living in the areas this was marketed back in the early 80s and remember it? Let us know!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

From the Snack Aisle: O'Boises Potato Chip

O'Boises Potato Chips
Company: Keebler
Years: Mid-Late 80's

They had a good thing going and they let it slip through their fingers. Probably because they have little fingers. It's hard to hold onto a bag of delicious chips (I know... they aren't chips) with such small fingers.

 O'Boises were one of those snacks that you wanted to call "A chip", though they swore up and down that they aren't a chip. (those elves swear a lot too, guys......usually complaining about the tiny fingers...). They were a baked chip like shape that had small air pockets all over, giving them a very distinct crunch. Very salty....very delicious.

I keep wanting to compare them to Tato Skins, but I don't think that would be fair. But I'm not sure what else to compare them to, so I will. Are you picturing Tato Skins? Good. They look kinda like that. But not really.
They came in 3 flavors: Regular, Sour Cream and Onion, and BBQ. And each one was delicious. I was always a fan of the Sour Cream and Onion.
And then one day - *poof* - they're gone.

Nobody really knows where O'Boises disappeared to, but my running theory is that one of the elves fell into the machine that peeled the potatoes for O'Boises Chips (I know they're not chips) and as part of the lawsuit settlement the machine had to be removed from the factory/tree and as a result it just took too long to peel all the potatoes by hand, and they decided to shelf the product and focus on other areas (namely cookies).

Or maybe they were discontinued because of poor sales. That might be why, too. I'll check with the elves.