Published March 07, 2014
Think back to a typical Saturday morning as a 6 year old. With cartoons on the TV and a spoon in hand, you contentedly crunch away at your sugar-loaded cereal of choice: French Toast Crunch, perhaps, or the fluorescent flakes of Nerds cereal. You slurp down the strawberry milk left in the bowl from your Strawberry Honeycomb or the rainbow-streaked Sprinkle Spangles milk remnants, and go on with your happy childhood Saturday.
Fast-forward 10 (or 20, or 30) years later. Perusing the cereal aisle, you realize how bored you are of the grown-up, healthy options that seem to have taken over. You’re overcome with nostalgia for your favorite cereal from childhood, and decide to splurge on the calories and go ahead and treat yourself to a box of that sugary goodness.
There’s just one problem: it no longer exists.
Most popular cereals marketed to kids are household names that have been around for ages. They’re also mostly major sugar bombs — 90 percent of kids’ cereals are tested to be high in sugar. And yet, it’d be unimaginable for many of these — think Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms — to be taken off the market. After all, the average American eats 10 pounds of the stuff in a year. But year after year, beloved cereals are discontinued, leaving thousands of cereal lovers with nothing to do but reminisce about the golden days of their sugary childhood favorites.
One of these coveted cereals, Cap’n Crunch, was the subject of a recent scare that had cereal lovers everywhere panicking over the rumor that Cap’n Crunch was being "retired" as a Quaker Oats brand cereal. Noticing that the Cap’n was nowhere to be seen on the company’s main website and that there seemed to be a decline in recent promotions, fans speculated that the sugary cereal was "too unhealthy" to go on. Thankfully, Quaker put an end to the rumors and quelled our worst fears when it told AdAge, "Reports of Cap’n Crunch’s demise are greatly exaggerated."
But when it comes to over-the-top delicious cereals that happen to be high in sugar, we still live in fear that they’ll one day be taken away. Kids’ cereals are getting less sugary by the day, and efforts to combat childhood obesity, from Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move!" campaign to the special Congress committee dedicated to halting the marketing of sugary foods to kids, promise to slow the production of these "breakfast candy" cereals. We’re all for ending childhood obesity, but it also might mean the end of a sugary cereal Golden Age. Someday soon, you could be mourning the loss of one of your current favorites.
Sometimes, you just have to forget the sugar content and take a trip down memory lane. To help you reminisce, here are 10 of The Daily Meal’s 17 cereals that were just too sweet to last.
Mr. T Cereal — Quaker
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"?
Cinnamon Mini Buns — Kellogg’s
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.
Sprinkle Spangles — General Mills
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.
S’mores Crunch — General Mills
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.
Teddy Grahams Breakfast Bears — Nabisco
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.
Dunkin’ Donuts Cereal — Ralston
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.
Nerds Cereal — Ralston
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.
Rice Krispies Treats Cereal — Kellogg’s
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.
Pop-Tarts Crunch — Kellogg’s
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!
Oreo O’s — Post
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.
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