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General Mills’ Monster Cereals: A Brief History and Taste Test

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Like poltergeists and Terminator model 101, “They’re back!”

Retro BoxesIn 1971, the cereal geniuses at General Mills determined that what people really want for breakfast is monsters. Count Chocula appeared alongside Franken Berry, and they would forever become a part of the American popular landscape. The cereals themselves were solid creations with flavors based on chocolate and strawberry complete with marshmallow shapes that gave that extra zing, but it was the great characters that really won over the country’s imagination.

Over the years, the “Monster Cereals” family saw a number of changes. Boo Berry, a blueberry cereal, appeared in 1972, soon followed by the cherry-flavored and werewolf-themed Fruit Brute. Fruit Brute would be the first of the casualties of time, being discontinued in 1984. Three years later, a new experiment with orange-flavored Yummy Mummy ran, with another short lifespan until 1993. Gradually the whole line of Monster Cereals would become seasonal, selling only around Halloween-time for those seeking extra-spooky October breakfasts.

For the 2013 season, General Mills brought about an event never before witnessed in the history of humanity: all five Monster Cereals at one time. Nutritionists grumbled about too much sugar in the average American child’s diet as is, which may be true, but, as they say, everything in moderation. Big G rep Carla Vernon made note in a WKYC report that the amount of sugar has been reduced from 15 to nine grams per serving, and the cereals include whole grains, calcium, and vitamin D. She also noted that 60% of the cereal is eaten by adults. Nutritionally speaking, the Monster Cereals are about as healthy as most of the items in the breakfast aisle and certainly healthier than a fast-food breakfast.

The Monster Cereals are a fascinating collection of Americana, and nutritionally reasonable, but what of the taste? General Mills dispatched a Target gift card for us to purchase the five cereals with the original box art, immediately conjuring up nostalgia for days of yore when cartoon characters peddled cereals before federally mandated restrictions. Beyond the boxes, we carefully taste-tested each cereal. All of them come with a standard ghost-shape in various colors reflecting the flavors. The marshmallows enliven the crunchy cereal, which proves to have a wide range of wealth in flavor.

The Boo Berry is very subtle, especially in milk. Franken Berry and Count Chocula hold their own with their always popular flavors. Both are exceptional in leaving their flavor in the remaining milk, giving a delightful final slurp to the breakfast experience. Yummy Mummy carries excellent flavor in its cereal, but the orange does not translate through to the milk as thoroughly. Frute Brute (spelled differently in its modern incarnation) is the strongest of the flavors with a cherry-wallop to the mouth.

Without doubt, Yummy Mummy is the best of the Monster Cereals. While Count Chocula might always win statistical votes because of the popularity of its chocolate flavoring, and the others may have their camps, Yummy Mummy is the perfect blend of rich orange-cream flavor and cereal crunch that delicately accents the milk. It is like a Dreamsicle for breakfast. Even after four bowls of cereal in our taste-tests, we were ready to return for more and dream of Saturday morning cartoons.

All 5 boxes 2013

Four out of Five Stars

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.