Sometimes it’s not the tastiness of a cereal that makes it fly off the shelf, but rather it’s the face on the box. Never was this truer than in the case of Quaker’s Mr. T cereal, whose sole defining characteristic was the endorsement of Mr. T’s kid-friendly, unmistakable persona. Popular in the '80s, the cereal tasted a lot like Cap’n Crunch, but the pieces were shaped like T’s. Pretty standard, but how could you not buy box after box with catchphrases like "Team up with Mr. … It’s cool," and "I pity the fool who don’t eat my cereal"?
Before "Strawberry-Blasted Honeycomb," there was plain old Strawberry Honeycomb. This super sweet cereal was introduced in 1983 by Post, and described as a "crunchy, sweetened corn and oat cereal with natural strawberry flavor with other natural flavors, fortified with 10 essential vitamins and minerals." You could also win a Honeycomb Kid Iron-On or Bike Racing Stickers. But perhaps most importantly, this cereal turned your milk into strawberry milk. And more people than you’d think love that stuff. Too bad it was yanked from the shelves for no apparent reason.
We have to commend the advertising campaign for this short-lived '90s cereal — it really told it like it is: "They’re like cinnamon buns… the size of cereal." It was a simple yet mind-blowing concept, and we were also informed that "eating 70 cinnamon buns can be nutritious," thanks to the cereal’s lack of added fat or artificial flavors. Of course, neither of these things is necessary when the cereal is just miniature cinnamon roll replicas; it’s inherently delicious and totally acceptable for breakfast because cinnamon rolls are totally a breakfast food anyway! Unfortunately you’ll have to settle for the real deal nowadays, since Cinnamon Mini Buns disappeared in 1993, as did its replacement, Kellogg’s Mini Swirlz Cinnamon Bun cereal, which was discontinued in 2009.
Cinnamon buns are an acceptable inspiration for a cereal, but Christmas cookies? Despite the weirdness, like so many '80s and '90s cereals, General Mills’ Sprinkle Spangles just went for it. The small, sprinkled, star-shaped corn puffs tasted basically like crispy Christmas cookies with jimmies, but more memorable was the "Sprinkle Genie" from the commercials, who would announce, "You wish it, I dish it!" Guess he didn’t get very many wishes, because by 1995 the cereal was officially done for.
Dino Pebbles was one of countless "Pebbles" varieties created by Post, but was apparently particularly beloved. It was essentially Flintstones-themed Rice Krispies with colorful marshmallows (supposedly the most marshmallows per box in the biz) in the shapes of various dinosaurs. Sadly, in the early '90s this cereal went "extinct" under mysterious circumstances, much like the real-life dinos. These days, there’s Pebbles Boulders (chocolate and peanut butter) and Marshmallow Pebbles, but they just don’t compare to the original dino glory.
You thought rocky road was a flavor reserved solely for ice cream? Nope, once upon a time (aka 1986) you could taste the magical flavor combo of chocolate, nuts, and marshmallow for breakfast with General Mills' cereal. It was made of corn puffs and marshmallows coated in chocolate and nuts, represented in commercials by three cleverly named characters: a friendly guitar-playing chocolate corn puff named Choco, a vanilla guitar-playing corn puff named Van, and a sexy chocolate-covered marshmallow singer named Marsha. Sadly, one day this cereal went missing from shelves and never came back — purportedly, it was just too darn sugary.
We can’t really understand why General Mills ever discontinued S’mores Crunch. First of all, who doesn’t love a good s’more? Secondly, it was an excuse to eat them for breakfast. And, the prize in every box was a small pack of Starbursts. Despite all of these great things, the chocolate graham cracker cereal speckled with tiny marshmallows was pulled from shelves in 1988 after just six years. Their disappearance was so heart-wrenching for some that an online petition for their return was even created.
Forget cereals of miniaturized delicious things. Teddy Grahams Breakfast Bears was essentially your standard Teddy Grahams, only thrown in a cereal box, called cereal, and eaten in a bowl with milk and a spoon. Introduced by Nabisco in 1990, this was an ideal kids’ cereal: tons of tiny chocolate, honey, or cinnamon cookies, for breakfast! Parents could take comfort knowing they were "burstin’ with wholesome graham goodness." Sadly, the friendly bears had to go shortly after. And we still aren’t sure why.
It was really only a matter of time before breakfast kingpin Dunkin’ Donuts rolled out a breakfast cereal. After all, having something as sugary as a donut for breakfast is kind of a crazy idea to begin with — how could donuts-as-cereal be any more ridiculous? These crispy, sweet little loops had four wholesome grains and came in chocolate and glazed flavors — both in the same box! The commercials introduced us to Fred the Baker, the genius who made these tiny donuts with a tiny baking pin and other tiny baking equipment. The cereal, produced by Ralston, disappeared somewhere in the gulf between the late '80s and early '90s, but the legend of Fred lives on in Dunkin’s delicious (normal-sized) donuts.
Ice Cream Cones Cereal stood out for its defiantly awesome, sugar-positive attitude — it definitely did not care what anyone thought about it. As a breakfast choice, it was basically one small step away from just completely throwing in the towel and making yourself a nice bowl of actual ice cream to start the day. Introduced by General Mills in 1987, these "sweetened cereal scoops with crunchy cones" came in chocolate chip and vanilla flavors, and "looked and tasted like ice-cream cones!" The cereal did manage to pack in four wholesome grains and eight vitamins [source?] while still retaining a taste similar to Cookie Crisp. The pieces were shaped like little ice cream scoops atop cones, the latter of which was known to be much more similar in flavor to real ice cream cones.
Any cereal that’s an exact replica of a sugary candy is doomed from birth (Reese’s Puffs are apparently the sole exception), but Nerds Cereal made its short life worthwhile. This "tiny tangy crunchy" cereal was awesomely packaged in a large box divided into two compartments, each containing a flavor of Nerds: either orange and cherry or strawberry and grape. You could win a small box of Nerds candy in the box, or even a "Two-Sided Nerds Bowl with a Nerd Gate" that lifted to allow milk on one side of the bowl to flow into cereal on the other side. Despite reports that eating the cereal would produce a bright red-orange stool, the cereal was still going strong when it was pulled from shelves in the late '80s.
In yet another example of justifying sweets for breakfast by shrinking them to mini-sizes, Rice Krispies Treats Cereal consisted of "wholesome crispy clusters" fused together by a marshmallow cluster. First introduced by Kellogg’s in 1993, this adored cereal seems to have been made mysteriously extremely scarce, available only in select stores or online. Who is producing this exclusive line of cereal, and where? Why is it so scantily stocked these days? We may never know, but it certainly increases the mystique. Other phased-out varieties of the classic Rice Krispies include "Strawberry Rice Krispies," "Banana Rice Krispies," and "Razzle Dazzle Rice Krispies," all from the hey-day of creative cereal innovations: the late '90s.
The commercial for this totally '90s cereal perfectly embodied its essence, and the vibe of the entire decade: it featured exactly the prototypical garage-grunge teen rocker who’d be likely to enthusiastically eat a cereal made of miniature-sized Pop-Tarts, performing his (rather rough) musical ode to the breakfast pastries. You’d probably be moved to break out into song, too, if you’d had the chance to taste it — Frosted Strawberry and Frosted Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts were essentially just shrunk to spoon-size, making for a crazy-delicious cereal experience. Sadly, it was indeed too good to be true, and only lasted a year on the cereal market before Kellogg’s stopped selling it. Good thing you can still buy the real, pastry-sized tarts!
French Toast Crunch is like the secret, long-lost little sister of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, another General Mills cereal. The story of its slow demise is the stuff of tragedies: the original cereal featured toast-shaped crunchy bites that tasted amazingly similar to the real deal, but was later altered to be a yellow-ish, less-tasty version of the square, swirled pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. The transformation seemed to doom the cereal and French Toast Crunch finally disappeared from shelves altogether — except in Canada. That’s right, dedicated French Toast Crunch fanatics can venture to meet our northern neighbors to buy a box, where it’s also known as "Croque pain doré." It’s also available on Amazon.
Oh, the '70s. Among many other things, this wacky decade saw our nation’s four-year love affair with a cereal made of "crunchy honey-tasting spaceships" speckled with marshmallows that looked like boogers. These were the Freakies — green creatures named with names like Cowmumble, Snorkeldorf, and Hamhose, who, according to legend, found a magical tree that provided an endless supply of Freakies cereal and decided to live there forever. The sugary puffed cereal, made by Ralston, tasted similar to Quisp and was an instant success thanks to the lovable Freakies characters. Freakies was so beloved that the original Freakies commercial became an installation at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
This late '60s and early '70s "sugary cereal for QUAZY energy" looked like flattened Kix and tasted like Cap’n Crunch, but was a unique classic thanks to its iconic pink mascot, the friendly alien Quisp. It was marketed by Quaker Oats with its cereal counterpart Quake, whose mascot was a muscular, helmeted momma’s boy. At the height of their popularity, together, Quisp and Quake took in 1.6 percent of the entire breakfast cereal market, although Quisp was overwhelmingly preferred. Quisp reappeared briefly in the '80s, and then re-emerged in the mid-'90s as an "Internet-only" cereal, and it is still available online today. It was then that memorabilia-mania set in and spawned the sale of a 1969 Quisp Beanie cereal prize for $1,025 in an online auction, among other things. Other Quisp cereal prizes included a two-in-one fun bowl, a Quisp bank, dolls, mini-comics, a tiny flying saucer, a foam Frisbee, and a "Quazy Moon Mobile."
The only explanation we can think of for why this glorious food was removed from the cereal market is that one bowl of these scrumptious O’s probably prompted consumers to cease their purchases of all other Post cereals (and possibly all other foods). In 1998, Post realized milk goes just as well with cereal as it does with Oreos, and so it created these chocolate-flavored loops with white sprinkles as a cereal-form of "milk’s favorite cookie"— total no-brainer! Later, they added marshmallows for "Extreme Crème Taste." The sugary cereal tasted like a chocolate glazed donut combined with a milk-dunked Oreo. But then, after a mere nine years, Post pulled the plug on the cereal when they stopped co-branding with Kraft, proving that only the good die young.
For those still suffering from Oreo O’s withdrawal, the cereal is apparently available on Amazon, as well as in South Korea — a trek many may be willing to make to get their hands on the greatest of fallen cereals. And it’s rumored that Post and Kraft have agreed to begin producing and selling the cereal again, starting in August 2012. Only time will tell if this too-good-to-be-true cereal will be a reality yet again.