From Spider-Man To Star Wars: 22 Crazy Cereals Based on Movies, TV, And Video Games
By Chris E. Hayner on
The most utterly ridiculous cereals ever based on movies, TV shows, video games, and more
The 1980s and 1990s were a great time to be a kid if you loved cereal. Every trip to the grocery store would find a new offering on the breakfast cereal aisle, taking a movie, TV show, video game, or celebrity and turning it into a sugary morning treat.
While themed cereal can still be found in stores--we're looking at you, Fruity Pebbles--the glory days that saw practically every title getting its own special blend of marshmallows, corn, rice, and oats have come to an end. Ralston, the company behind many of the best-remembered offerings, no longer dabbles in licensed foods. In fact, based on their website, the company now specializes in cereal that looks similar to name brands like Fruit Loops and Cocoa Puffs, while being different enough to be marketed as a different product.How the might have fallen. Then again, in its heyday, Ralston was actually known as Ralston Purina and dedicated a sizable chunk of its business into making pet food, so perhaps its better off now.
How important is taste and originality in these cereals anyway? After all, one of the biggest reasons anyone bought these was due to the characters emblazoned on the boxes and the prizes that were included with the cereal. Who cares what Batman cereal tastes like when it comes with a bank in the shape of the Caped Crusader? Thankfully, there were still some colorful and tasty cereals to be found back then, right Spider-Man?
Take a trip back in time with GameSpot as we revisit 22 of those cereals--both good and bad. How many of these do you remember sitting down with at breakfast?
Image: Sony Entertainment
There was a time when nothing in pop culture was hotter than Steve Urkel, the nerdy character on Family Matters. In an age where the TGIF programming block ruled the world, Urkel was its king. This cereal that was first released in 1991--and remained in production until 2000--is proof of that.
2. Nintendo Cereal System
When it came to video games, nothing was hotter in the late '80s than the Nintendo Entertainment System. It permeated pop culture in such a way that it spawned merchandise, cartoons, and even the movie The Wizard. Naturally, like many popular properties, it also got a cereal--two if you want to get technical. In each box were two bags, one a Super Mario Bros. cereal and one for The Legend of Zelda. What a time to be alive.
3. Bill and Ted's Excellent Cereal
Excellent! A Bill & Ted cereal not only existed, but it wasn't based on the movies. Instead, this cereal followed the cartoon and featured the animated versions of Bill and Ted emblazoned on the box. The real joy of this breakfast wasn't the marshmallows, though. Instead, it was the prize that came with the cereal--a cassette tape holder shaped like Bill and Ted's phone booth time machine.
4. Smurfberry Crunch
For many, Smurfberry Crunch is the gold standard for sugary cereals based on TV shows and movies. The fruity corn and wheat cereal first debuted in 1981 and lasted for years before an addition to the Smurf's cereal line--Magic Berries--that added marshmallows to the mix in 1987.
Image: Post Cereals
5. The Addams Family
Addams Family cereal sounds like a great idea, in theory. However, its pieces were made to resemble skulls, dismembered hands, and headless dolls--all things very familiar to this particular family. Serving a bowl of that to a kid could be pretty traumatic, though. However, there was a period of the time where the "toy" it included was a flashlight made to resemble a character from the movie. That's pretty exciting for a kid.
6. Donkey Kong
Mario and Zelda had to share a cereal. Before that, though, Donkey Kong got a box all to himself. According to the box, it was "crunchy barrels of fun." While that doesn't exactly found appetizing, what's not to love about a video game-themed cereal with a taste similar to Captain Crunch?
7. E.T. Cereal
While the E.T. Atari game may have been a colossal bomb, the cereal was not the same case. Taking a note from E.T.'s love of Reese's Pieces in the movie, the cereal was flavored like peanut butter and chocolate. Among the bonus prizes included in the box were trading cards, as well as a picture of Michael Jackson and E.T.--because why not?
Image: General Mills
8. The Real Ghostbusters
This is another cereal based on a cartoon that's based on a movie. This particular cereal was released three times under three different names and was incredibly simple, in terms of design. Marshmallow ghosts mixed with fruity Os, to create the Ghostbusters logo in your cereal bowl. The best part of this cereal, though, was the prizes that came in the box--from glow-in-the-dark door hangers to buttons to frisbees.
Like many Ralston cereals, Batman essentially consisted of themed corn pieces--bats in this instance--and a standard sweet flavor. The prizes were where Batman was able to shine. Honestly, the only reason to get this cereal was for the Batman bank that came attached to the front. Who's going to keep your change safer than the Dark Knight?
This sweetened cereal may not be all that exciting--its pieces are meant to look like Gizmo but they don't--but it's hard to resist something as adorable as the mogwai on its box. Inside the box with the cereal was a sticker, which is a decent bonus. However, the big prize was something you had to actually mail away for--a plush Gizmo.
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
It's essentially Rice Chex ("ninja nets") with marshmallows. The marshmallows in question are shaped like ninja weapons and pizzas, everything needed for a radically tasty breakfast. None of that matters, though, without what is perhaps the most beloved prize of all time-- a Ninja Turtle-shaped cereal bowl. You could eat your Ninja Turtles cereal out of a Ninja Turtles bowl.
12. Fruity Pebbles/Cocoa Pebbles
Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles are undeniably the most successful licensed cereal of all time. They were first released in 1971 and can still be found in stores today, almost 50 years later. Clearly, Post stumbled onto something good when it came to The Flintstones.
Image: Post Cereals
The Spider-Man cereal from 1995 is very similar to Ralston's Ninja Turtles offering. This time, though, the "ninja nets" were spiderwebs and the marshmallows were supposed to be pumpkin bombs, "spider symbols," Peter Parker's camera, and Kingpin. In reality, they were essentially blobs of various colors.
14. GI Joe Action Stars
This cereal arrived in stores in 1985--the same year the cartoon premiered. It wasn't colorful or flashy, but it was part of a complete breakfast to help create a real American hero… probably. What's most important is the mini-comic books that came packaged in the box. Cereal and comics, what more do you need?
And you thought the Star Wars Christmas Special was the most shameless cash-in on this franchise. These were essentially Honey Nut Cheerios in a figure-eight shape. As for prizes, they varied from trading cards to a Rebel Rocket toy.
16. Mr. T
We pity the fool that never got to try Mr. T's cereal. Why did Mr. T have a cereal, you ask? Between his appearance in Rocky III and his role on The A-Team, Mr. T was a pop culture sensation in the early 1980s and that got him his own breakfast. If only they'd come up with a better idea than pieces shaped like T and literally nothing else, though.
Following the success of Donkey Kong's cereal, it was Pac-Man's turn. This cereal features Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and ghost marshmallows, along with sweet balls of corn. Among the prizes offered inside was bubblegum. There was also the possibility of winning a full-size Pac-Man arcade game.
Image: General Mills
18. Donkey Kong Jr.
Donkey Kong cereal was a little too basic--thankfully, Donkey Kong Jr. righted the wrongs of his father. Out are the crunchy barrels. Instead, this cereal is made up of pieces shaped and flavored like bananas and berries, putting a fruity twist on breakfast.
19. Rainbow Brite
Of course, the Rainbow Brite cereal--based on the cartoon and movie--is rainbow-colored and shaped. It's essentially Fruit Loops, but with half-circles instead of full loops. The only notable prize, really, was a colorful chain necklace you could mail away for. What's the point of buying cereal without a toy in it?
20. Morning Funnies
With so many cereals based on well-known cartoons and movies, opting to create one based on newspaper comic strips might not seem like a cutting-edge idea. What's even more bizarre is the cereal itself had nothing to do with the various comic strips it licensed. It was simply made up of smiling faces in a variety of colors.
21. Booty O's
Where do you start with Booty O's? What started as an on-screen joke made by the trio known as New Day became an actual breakfast cereal you could buy in stores and a never-ending string of merchandise. The oat-based breakfast comes packed with marshmallows that look like trombones and booties, to name a few shapes. If only Ralston was still a cereal giant that could mass produce it.
22. Pro Stars
Not every cereal can be based on a fictional character, right? That's where Pro Stars, which puts the spotlight on sports celebrities, comes in. We know what you're thinking: That's what Wheaties are for, right? Thankfully, Pro Stars added funny to the mix and included a contest to win breakfast with Wayne Gretzky. Top that, Wheaties.
Image: General Mills