The very first thing I wrote about for this site involved cereal prizes. Like every child who didn't grow up completely deprived, cereal prizes were a very important part of the morning breakfast ritual. Although once the cereals started including the prizes on the outside of the bag and not the inside, cereal prizes became a very important part of the ritual immediately following getting home from the supermarket. Dwelling on the past won't help anything. Pointing out all the wonderful surprises that used to be contained within will not bring them back.
What is worth pointing out is that I have changed society. Ever since that manifesto of mine, cereal companies have been getting their act together, if only a little. We are not living in the utopian cereal world we once did, but we are making great strides of progress. Take a look down your cereal aisle today, and you will see a wondrous bounty of toys to be had. This was not the case five to ten years ago, during the Great Cereal Depression.
Again, the cure has not been discovered, and the solution has not been reached. There are still many cereals spitting in the faces of children everywhere. Instead of shouts of praise for the objects inside, the backs of many cereal boxes still contain untold amounts of horrid mazes, fun & games, and movie advertisements.
The child teasing mail-in offers still exist, although admittedly many of the mail-in items themselves have gotten better. That Pirates of the Caribbean skull bowl from Crispix was pretty awesome. And besides, it's not like people are really expecting to find a toy inside Crispix, so that's just a bonus.
Despite some companies who still refuse to come around, we are in the midst of a cereal prize renaissance. We are being treated to toys, some in quantity and some in quality. During a recent stocking up on cereal, I bought two different cereals that are doing prizes the right way.
I will admit that without the prize inside, I never would have bought Choconilla Krispies again. While it's not bad, the taste is a little strange and the vanilla Krispies leave a weird film on the roof of your mouth. And compared to Cocoa Krispies, the milk left behind by Choconilla leaves a lot to be desired. However, when I saw that they were including a freaking video game inside each box, those creepy Krispies looked a whole lot more enticing.
In a partnership with Microsoft, the prizes inside were an assortment of hand-held video games. And by "hand-held", I am referring to the hands of Chip or Dale. These things are tiny. Even still, you could see what was happening on the screen, and press the buttons. While I won't be buying more boxes to complete the whole assortment, the game was enjoyable enough.
There is an assortment of about ten games, from action to sports to a, uh, ladybug. I got the Space Invader clone game. It didn't come with an instruction manual, but I was able to overcome the steep learning curve of move left or right and shoot what's in front of you. The game doesn't seem to end, it just keeps going until you die.
This game is bringing back the glory days of Tiger games. I was in love with Tiger games when I was a kid. My favorite was Double Dragon. I always contemplating saving up to buy it, but it was like $40 or something equally insane for my childhood budget. I'm not actually sure where the Double Dragon game I always played came from. I didn't own it, and I can't fathom who I was borrowing it from. My guess would be my friend Joe whose Game Boy I always borrowed.
Joe had a pretty solid collection of games, including my personal favorite, TMNT: Fall of the Foot Clan. That game still kicks all different kinds, races, sexes, and ages of ass. For some reason, I could never beat the second hidden mini-game, where you have to leave one ninja star remaining. Krang would always laugh at me and it pissed me off to no end. At the same time, I always killed the other two hidden mini-games. Splinter's "Guess the Number" mini-game is actually my favorite part of the whole game.
Boy, that was uninteresting.
Joe had the patience of a saint, since I would borrow his Game Boy for weeks at a time, and I think eventually permanently borrowed it. At the same time, the price of borrowing his Game Boy usually involved me jumping off my roof while he watched, so I guess he wasn't that nice. That is irrelevant, since without him I would have grown up completely Game Boy-less, so I am eternally grateful.
Back on track, I have no idea who was providing me with my temporary Double Dragon happiness. Back even more on track, the space game was as primitive as a game can get, but the fact that you are getting a functioning game within a cereal box, no mail-in required, is nothing short of amazing. I am sure kids today are spoiled with their more modern systems, but even still this is the kind of cereal prize that would top their lists.
Bravo Kellogs, bravo.
The other prize came in a cereal that does not need prizes to entice me to buy it. Honey Nut Cheerios is a cereal that stands on its own. It does not need prizes to be a good cereal; although when they do decide to include a prize, that reaches almost hazardous levels of excellence.
My only gripe with the toy is that it is yet another cog in the incredibly annoying Bee Movie advertising machine. Between Jerry Seinfeld trying his hardest to destroy his comedy legacy in his annoying Bee TV spots during The Office, to his complaining on national TV that people got mad at his wife for stealing book ideas, Jerry's comeback hasn't been the best thing ever. Add in the fact that Bee Movie looks like another mediocre DreamWorks project, and the end result is I'm just sick of the whole thing.
At the same time, if any cereal makes sense to tie in with Bee Movie, it's Honey Nut Cheerios.
The toy is nothing to complain about. It's a cereal spoon, which has a spinning bee at the top. I would prefer it if the bee just spun in circles, since the "down and up the spoon" path tends to make it get stuck. The spoon is also very small. Although I'm assuming that most cereal prizes are intended for someone 1/4 my age, so I'll let that complaint slide. But I have to figure even a little kid wants more than three cheerios at a time on their spoon.
Even though cereal companies aren't living up to President Hoover's promise of "a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and a prize in every cereal", they have made big steps in the past half of a decade. The future looks bright... we can only hope boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch will include shades.
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