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'70s Cereals

Updated on April 16, 2009

1970s Cereals

Remember breakfast cereals in the 1970s? How colorful they were, how crunchy? And the cartoon characters who endorsed them: vampires, robots, aliens, leprechauns, rabbits with football-shaped heads... Remember Saturday morning cartoons, and how much more sense they made after a few bowls of high-fructose glucose coated with sucrose?

Take a walk down memory lane and see if any of your favorites are reviewed here. Some of these brands are still available, but I've tried to balance them with more obscure, hard-to-find, and out-of-print '70s cereals.

Kaboom Cereal

Can't sleep...clowns will eat me...

Let's start right off with the hard stuff. This is what recreational, "gateway" Lucky Charm usage leads to: happy clown faces drenched in highly saturated, weapons-grade food coloring. Marshmallow stars provide a secondary buzz.

After a few bites of Kaboom, you could control hummingbirds with your mind and see all the way to the edge of the universe. Kaboom turned milk an interesting shade of grayish purple.

Cap'n Crunch

Lacerations ahoy!

"Stays crunchy...even in milk". Also stays crunchy in blast furnaces, outer space, and sixty thousand leagues under the ocean. These pillowy vanilla kernels contained a Zen-like paradox: smooth taste, yet vicious texture. If, like me, you were not a regular eater of Cap'n Crunch and weren't able to build up calluses on the roof of your mouth, this cereal was an object lesson in the relationship between pain and pleasure.

Personally, I think the gum-shredding fiberglass-and-cornmeal formula was genius. It ensured faster delivery of sugar to the bloodstream, and also meant you wouldn't be able to taste any of its cereal competitors until your soft palate healed.

Quisp and Quake

First, there was Abel and Cain.

Then, there was Quisp and Quake.

Quisp and Quake were a pair of quarreling cereal box mascots drawn by Jay Ward of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame. Quisp was a cross-eyed space alien in a green jumpsuit whose mission was to bring Quisp's "Quazy Energy" to Earth. Quake was a manly man with rock-hard biceps, a "Q" on his chest, and a miner's hat (or sometimes, a cowboy outfit, as shown in this illustration), whose cereal promised "Earthquake Power".

In commercials, the two feuded bitterly over whose cereal was best. Quaker Oats ran a contest in 1970 to determine which character was more popular. Quisp won, and Quake was quietly retired, though he later re-appeared with an Aussie bush hat and an orange spotted kangaroo sidekick on boxes of Quangaroos cereal.

Quisp was a saucer-shaped corn cereal with faint hints of brown sugar and vanilla, which tasted pretty much identical to Cap'n Crunch. I could never figure out if Quisp's pink propeller was detachable, or if it was actual flesh growing out of his head.

70s Cereals on Amazon - Throw a '70s theme party, or travel back in time!

Sugar Kapowies are a part of this complete breakfast. See? They're over there, just off to the side.

Sugar Kapowies are a part of this complete breakfast.  See?  They're over there, just off to the side.
Sugar Kapowies are a part of this complete breakfast. See? They're over there, just off to the side.

Alpha-Bits

Alpha-Bits, small alphabet shaped oat letters, were introduced in 1958. Post briefly experimented with a whole-grain version in 2006, then took them off the market altogether, then reintroduced "Classic" Alpha-bits in 2008. Old Alpha-Bits commercials showed the letters spontaneously forming groovy words in the spoon, but I could never get them to spell anything other than "KRQZWACK".

If one thousand monkeys ate one thousand bowls of Alpha-Bits for one thousand years, would they eventually spell out "Hamlet"?

The Jackson Five endorsed Alpha-Bits, which was pretty cool, and some of the boxes came with cardboard 45s embedded on the back of the box that you could actually cut out and play. As I recall, my brothers ruined one of Dad's hi-fi needles with "Sugar, Sugar".

Grins & Giggles & Smiles & Laughs...

...and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. If you want to appeal to children, by all means, put some accountants in three-piece suits on the cover.

Classic '70s Cereal Commercials - 1973 Alpha-Bits Commercial with Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five

Lucky Charms

Old-school Lucky Charms. Back when they only had four marshmallow colors (pink hearts, orange stars, yellow moons, green clovers), back before they started admitting heresies like blue diamonds, purple horseshoes, and red balloons into the mixture. The marshmallows had a pleasing slickness when coated with milk. I used to sneak into the kitchen and eat all the marshmallow "charms" out of the cereal, leaving behind the oat pieces, which made the cereal considerably less luckier. And me, once my brothers got wind of what I was doing.

Kellogg's OKs Cereal

Och! Showdown at the OK muir!

This was Kellogg's answer to Cheerios. Not the most exciting cereal name ever. After some heated discussions around the conference tables, OKs finally won out over "Meh", "Blandy-O's", "Mediocres", and "Shrug".

This cereal is actually from the '50s, but I love the cover: "Big Otis", Kellogg's virile, caber-tossing spokes-hunk, proudly flaunts the Scotch Tape clan tartan. I'd love to see this guy duke it out with the Brawny paper towel man.

True fact #1: Big Otis was eventually replaced by Yogi Bear, whose biceps were less intimidating to children.

True fact #2: After OKs were discontinued, in the late '60s, Kellogg's re-used the same manufacturing equipment to produce Froot Loops.

True fact #3: Scotsmen don't normally wear jingle bell wristbands.

Fruit Brute

R.I.P. 1975-1982

Fruit Brute was General Mills' brief foray into the lucrative field of lycanthropic breakfast foods. The cereal was raspberry, the marshmallows lime. Less successful than its cohorts Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and Franken Berry, Fruit Brute was discontinued in the early 1980s. It later went on to a successful movie career, appearing in "Pulp Fiction" and "Reservoir Dogs". Now it lives in Malibu and won't return your phone calls.

Classic '70s Cereal Commercials - Mikey Life Cereal Commercial

He likes it! Hey Mikey!

Freakies

Let your freak flag fly

Oh we are the Freakies

We are the Freakies

And this is our Freakies tree

Distributed by Ralston-Purina from 1973-75, Freakies continues to maintain a devoted following. The Freakies characters (BossMoss, Hamhose, Snorkeldorf, Cowmumble, Gargle, Grumbles, Goody-Goody) cavorted in and around a tree which bloomed eternally with Freakies cereal. Plastic figurines were packaged in each box of cereal along with a little backstory. The creator, Jackie End, based the Freakies characters on her co-workers.

Like whoa. Have you ever looked at the back of your cereal spoon? I mean, REALLY looked, man?

1974 Freakies Commercial - We never miss a meal, 'cause we eat our cereal

Moonstones Cereal

Breakfast of Junior Fascists

Introduced in 1977, Moonstones lasted about a year before going to that big supermarket aisle in the sky. Ralston marketed these with the story that the moon has two sides: a light side and a dark side. The light side of the moon is populated by clean, hard-working, honest workers called Moonbeams, led by the hero, Majormoon (who "majored in cerealogy at Moon University"). Majormoon sports a general's visor cap and chest full of medals, presumably won for bravery in the face of polysorbate-80. Every day Moonbeams work hard, mining Moonstones off the face of the moon and turning it into delicious crunchy cereal using their secret formula.

On the dark side of the moon, we have the shiftless, lazy Moonbums, who refuse to work. Instead they lie around like wet sacks, plotting ways of getting their dirty hands on the Moonstones secret formula. (Big Bum and Crum Bum are two of the chief villains). The cereal box didn't actually come right out and say it, but the implication is clear: the Moonbums probably accept moonwelfare checks from the moongovernment.

So eat up, kids! And remember: fiber is a vicious socialist LIE.

Crazy Cow

a.k.a. Bovine Spongiform Cereal

When you're a kid, the condition of the milk after cereal has been steeping in it for awhile is always an important consideration when choosing a cereal. I was a huge fan of Apple Jacks milk: a delicate pink, like blushing dawn, lightly infused with artificial apple and cinnamon. (1974 was a particularly amusing vintage, with top notes of pear, bourbon, and oak). I also liked post-Cocoa Krispies milk for its umber hue and no-nonsense chocolate flavor. It provided a richly satisfying aperitif. On the other hand, plain sugar-coated cereals such as Honeycomb and Cap'n Crunch didn't enhance the milk, and often turned it into an unappealing sludge.

In the 70s, some brilliant General Mills scientist hit upon the idea of coating cereal with "an excipient of a drink mix" (in the words of Wikipedia) which would dissolve on contact and flavor the milk. Crazy Cow came in chocolate and strawberry. One edition featured Star Wars trading cards, which were particularly valuable because they weren't available anywhere else.

Crazy Cow went belly-up in the early 80s along with other unfortunately-named products, such as Aydz diet candy and Legionnaire's Disease Soda (well, okay, I made that second one up).

Kellogg's Crunchy Loggs

An apple-cheeked Canadian rodent is offering you a nice bowl of brown, log-shaped pellets.

After you.

No, I insist.

Cereal Art

Check out this cool Cereal Obama at Cerealart.com.

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    • profile image

      Alpha Skua 20 months ago

      Quake had a mother as well

    • profile image

      Quincy 2 years ago

      Moonstones the best cereal Ever.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 4 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      What brilliant cereal boxes - I don't remember them at all but maybe that's because I live in the UK and ours were different.

    • Kandy O profile image

      Kandy O 6 years ago

      I heart Frankenberry so much. Great lens!

    • hunksparrow profile image

      hunksparrow 6 years ago

      Cool lens and great retro pics of everyone's favorites. I forgot about Freakie's

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Thumbs up!

      Great lens... very informative. Thanks for the good read.

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    • MsSnow4 profile image

      Carol Goss 8 years ago

      was going to do a lens on this, good thing I searched first. nice one :)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      That cereal art is awesome! How fun. I love this lens; it brings back memories, and I saw a couple I'd never heard of, too. But I was weird kid--I always ate stuff like Rice Crispies and Corn Flakes. Even though I'm dull, though, you lens isn't. 5*

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I Froot Loop Lift! I should've known. :) Personally, I think the scoring is a little low. I suspect the French judge is cheating. (She's the Anjou Pear). As for Swiss Army Cheese, I am afraid you would have to join the Swiss Army to be eligible for that delicacy. The good news is, the Swiss Army accept recruits from 18 to 50. So, if you are over 17, you're in! In fact, everyone over 19, is inducted with the rank of General.

    • Sarunas profile image

      Sarunas 8 years ago

      Really great lens.

      5 stars from. Well Done and Keep it up. : )

    • profile image

      MobyD 8 years ago

      After seeing the Alpha-Bits commercial, it is easier to understand why Michael Jackson is such a weird adult.

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 8 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you for stopping by, Sarah! Say, I noticed you're a figureskating instructor. Can you tell me if the two skaters on that one magnet are using the proper form?

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 8 years ago from Michigan

      I believe the first multicolored cereal was Trix...which, as I recall, was essentially Kix with a quart of food coloring added. Rolling this lens to my Laftovers Food & Drink Magnet lens where I think it will get along just fine with my funny magnets. :) Also 5-starring, favoriting it..and joining your FC.

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Blessed by a squidangel :)

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 8 years ago

      Great lens. I didn't know some of these cereals, and it was interesting to see the odd names and designs.

    • MikeMoore LM profile image

      MikeMoore LM 8 years ago

      Wow, I've never even heard of most of these cereals! I do like Captain Crunch though. Very funny lens. I'm going to lensroll it with uncool-cool-people and I've given it five stars. Awesome topic, and very witty. Thanks for the read and thanks for leaving a comment on my lens!

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 8 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Frankenberry