It’s interesting to think that when a line of General Mills cereals were released in March of 1971, that we would be celebrating its anniversary 50 years later? Why? Because they were cereals with monsters! Over the years five mascots for the cereal line have been released, each representing one of the most famous movie monsters. The original three, still released every year at Halloween, are Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry. Later, two new characters were released, Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy.
Children’s cereals have a long history of character mascots representing them and I commend General Mills in taking a chance with using monsters. Being a monster kid, I was instantly drawn to these and to this day, still eat Count Chocula ever fall. Count Chocula was always my favorite. Though I also liked Franken Berry, blueberry-flavored Boo Berry never worked for me. This line also featured fun commercials shown during Saturday morning cartoons, the time most kids ate these sugar-sweetened cereals. The toy prizes were also some of the most creative as well.
In March 1971, the first two cereals in the line were introduced, the chocolate-flavored Count Chocula and the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry. In the commercials, the two monsters, Count Alfred Chocula and Franken Berry, would engage in comic bickering over which cereal was better, when something or someone else interfered in their verbal sparring and scared them out of their wits.
In February 1972, Franken Berry cereal included an indigestible pigment that turned some children’s feces pink, a symptom sometimes referred to as “Franken Berry Stool”. The Count Chocula and Franken Berry recipes were reformulated to remove this pigment.
Boo Berry, the first blueberry-flavored cereal, was released in December 1973, and Fruit Brute in 1974. Fruit Brute was discontinued by 1982 and replaced in 1988 by Fruity Yummy Mummy, which was discontinued in 1992.
For the 50th Anniversary, General Mills has released a special edition of the cereal called Monster Mash. All of the monsters are represented here in a fun and colorful release. To aid in the anniversary, Betty Crocker has also released fruit flavored snacks with the Monster Mash logo as well.
The monsters continue to be popular today, not only with people who love the Halloween season but with those that collect cereal premiums. As was the norm with children’s cereals in the 1970s, these releases featured a wide-variety of toys that either came in the box or could be ordered through the mail. Because most of these were released in a multitude of colors, collecting them all in mint condition is near impossible. Even today new items are being released. You can find masks, patches, buttons, figurines and thanks to the 50th Anniversary, there is a new version of Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “The Monster Mash,” altered to feature our favorite cereal monsters (available for download on Spotify).
With their continued success, these monsters will never die. Thank you General Mills.