For decades, they’ve shared their worlds with us by the bowlful with sweet cereals packed with adventure and excitement in every bite. Some of these fantastic concoctions are “gr-r-reat!” while others are magically delicious. If you want more, all you had to do was follow your nose — unless you’re a silly rabbit.
We’re talking about cereal mascots, of course, beloved breakfast enthusiasts who understand that this isn’t the most important meal of the day, but a way of life. Some are leprechauns and bees while others are vampires and seafaring captains. In honor of National Cereal Day, we’re heading down a marshmallow memory lane with the ad community to gab about the cereal icons that breakfast just wouldn’t be the same without.
Horatio Magellan Crunch | Cap’n Crunch
For Jamie Delaney, Senior Copywriter at Moncur, there’s no question of Horatio Magellan Crunch’s greatness. “He’s a decorated veteran, fashion icon, and an innovative cereal visionary — Oops All Berries forever changed the cereal game.”
Hailing from Crunch Island, the Cap’n began sailing the seas on the S.S. Guppy in 1963. Tim Leon, President and Brand Strategist at Geile/Leon Marketing Communications, had the privilege of growing up with the character and says that this crunchy cereal was his go-to snack after grade school. “I love the fact that he had a backstory and I thought the slogan for the cereal was perfect. ‘Its got corn for crunch, oats for punch, and it stays crunchy even in milk.’ Now that’s a cereal with a distinct position.”
It’s that distinction that has endeared consumers to the Cap’n for years particularly Dan Goubert, Founder of Cerealously. As cereals adapt recipes for a health-conscious audience, Goubert says that the Cap’n sets sail for wackier waters, throwing caution to the wind. “From his unwavering Crunch Berry formula to his recent groundbreaking Blueberry Pancake Crunch, Cap'n Crunch is nurturing nostalgic inner children with a unique, unapologetic sweetness.”
BuzzBee | Cheerios
Despite an extreme fear of bees that may or may not be due to the movie My Girl, Katy Wicker, Creative Coordinator at mOcean, admits that BuzzBee has been a bigger part of her childhood than she thought he was. “I loved him as a kid. He accompanied me every morning while I ate Cheerios and watched Rugrats before school, and I loved visiting the Cheerios website after school because they had the best games.”
A buzzworthy presence for Honey Nut Cheerios since 1979, BuzzBee got his name in a 1999 contest held by General Mills. Since then, he’s been one busy bee with his own balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and hanging with Usher and Nelly in commercial spots that advocate being heart healthy. It’s his sweet nature that has won over the heart of Nick Iannitti, Director of Communications at Fuel. “He’s steadfast and staunchly dedicated to using that wooden honey-dipper tool to drip sweetness onto plain Cheerios.”
Toucan Sam | Froot Loops
At 28, Natalie Hornyak recalls growing up in what she describes as the “veritable renaissance of cereal advertising.” In a golden age that included familiar faces like Tony the Tiger and Lucky the Leprechaun, Hornyak, a Junior Copywriter at Garfield Group, cites Froot Loops connoisseur Toucan Sam as her biggest source of inspiration at the breakfast table.
“He had this laidback quality that I found admirable. Compared to other cereal mascots, driven to deeply concerning mania by their respective breakfasts, Toucan Sam seemed like he had his act together.” Hornyak muses. Personally, we think there’s something to be said about this tropical bird going the distance for cereal by tapping into his sense of smell. “Follow your nose, it always knows!”
Tony the Tiger | Frosted Flakes
“When I think of a mascot that has truly become a recognized character in the market, I definitely think of Tony,” Edith Willoughby, Account Executive at JB Chicago says, “Frosted Flakes doesn’t have colorful pieces shaped like fruit, marshmallows, or a surprise toy, but Tony’s fun personality helped the cereal become a favorite for people of all ages.”
Tony’s larger than life personality has been a hit with audiences for over 50 years, but it’s all about that tagline. We love it just as much as Melissa Egan, Senior Art Director at Juice Interactive, because it’s gr-r-reat!
Mini | Frosted Mini-Wheats
Though he may be small, he is mighty — mighty sweet and good for you! Katie Newman, Chief Marketing Officer at Leo Burnett USA, endlessly adores the pint-sized Mini of Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats. “Mini embodies everything I love about this brand. He embraces his inner kid to remind us of the freedom we felt in our youth. He brings an optimistic and free loving spirit with just a touch of mischievousness that makes us love him even more.”
ICYMI, Mini was recently spotted on the Oscars red carpet — and tweeted an unusual photography request!
Crazy Craving | Honeycomb
You probably still remember the wide-eyed, hairy Crazy Craving from Honeycomb cereal commercials in the 1990s. If you don’t, allow Conor Birney, Design Director at Madwell, to refresh your memory.
“He was this wild representation of a child's addiction to cereal. They'd be sitting in a treehouse or in class and this thing would whisper ‘Honeycomb, Honeycomb Me WANT HONEYCOMB!’ and the kids would instantly go mad with sugary lust.” Whoever — or whatever — Crazy Craving was, he was definitely a force of nature that got kids excited for the toasted honey packed into bowls of Honeycomb.
Yes, we’re spelling his name right and yes; this was a cereal mascot that existed. Jason Schwartz, Creative Director at Bright Bright Great, likens his favorite non-mainstream character to being “the Moses of Milk.”
King Vitaman also has the distinction of making appearances in both cartoon and human form. That’s part of his appeal, according to Bobby Pearce, Chief Creative Officer at David&Goliath. “I loved him not because he was particularly charming, cool or even relatable. But because I remember wondering, who the heck is that guy dressed in a four-dollar king’s costume?”
Lucky the Leprechaun | Lucky Charms
Loved by millions for his magically delicious cereal loaded with marshmallows, Lucky —formal known as “L.C. Leprechaun” — has also been quietly changing the conversation surrounding stereotypes of the Irish in America for decades. “Often portrayed as drunken louts and miscreants in TV and film, Lucky really tapped into mythology to create a new perspective.” Wade Paschall, Partner and Creative Director at Grenadier, notes.
“He has the best jingle; everyone in the cereal aisle can sing along,” says Kayla Davis, ION Talent Coordinator at Ayzenberg. She recommends saving those marshmallows — which currently include hearts, shooting stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, rainbows, balloons, and hourglasses — to munch on last.
Boo Berry, Count Chocula, and Frankenberry | Monster Cereals
So delicious it’s scary, each member of the Monster Cereals is deeply beloved by the ad community. Schwartz gives a shout out to the art direction behind the main trio and the impact of their seasonal release in getting consumers to buy the cereals.
Eric Burgess, VP of Product Management at Ayzenberg, is a big fan of Boo Berry’s ghoulish antics. “Boo rocks a stylish hat, has eyelids suggesting he's been out partying all night, and yet he's there in the morning ready to provide you with blueberries, which would have antioxidants if it was made with real fruit.”
Just call her #TeamCountChocula. Sandy Thompson, Global Strategic Planning Director at Young & Rubicam, loves seeing the Count modeled after Dracula selling a monster breakfast of sweet cereal. “Talk about irresistible tension that as a kid use to make me imitate Count Chocula’s sneaky laugh every time I poured myself a bowl. Huh Huh Huh Huh!”
As Bright Bright Great’s Lead Photographer, Vince DeSantago sums up simply how we all feel about the lumbering, perpetually blush colored Frankenberry, “He made you want to hug a monster.”
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a little pink alien that promises “quazy” amounts of energy if you eat his cereal! We’re talking about Quisp, a favorite of Scott Hamula, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Strategic Communication at the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. Hamula grew up with Quisp and remains eternally nostalgic for the character. “Whether alone or acting out a breakfast feud with his rival, Quake, he captured my science fiction imagination, in a sweet, nonthreatening way.”
Snap, Crackle, and Pop | Rice Krispies
In the cereal mascot universe, few can beat out the lasting impact that Snap, Crackle, and Pop have had with Rice Krispies. Steve Merino, Chief Creative Officer at Aloysius Butler & Clark, elaborates that it all had to do with the cereal itself. “Rice Krispies embraced the sound Rice Krispies make when you pour milk over them and turned what could have been boring into something fun. [That sound] has lasted much longer than the crunch does.”
Bill Benjamin, Director of Business Development at Ayzenberg, has kept the sugary-sweet trio deep in his conscience since childhood. “I think any characters that tap into story and brand attributes have a good chance at resonating over the long term. The fact that Snap, Crackle and Pop are named for the way the cereal sounds precisely when it hits the milk is pure genius. This is onomatopoeia at its best!”
Sugar Bear | Golden Crisp
Two enthusiastic thumbs up for the easygoing Sugar Bear reppin’ Golden Crisp! Jon Monson-Foon, Senior Writer at mOcean, can’t get enough of this guy. “He’s strong, cool, had the voice of an angel, and hated bullies. Great role model for a latchkey kid.” Just call Sugar Bear and his laidback attitude the Matthew McConaughey of cereal mascots.
Trix Rabbit | Trix
What makes a cartoon rabbit that can never seem to catch a break in eating his own cereal so endearing to all ages? Alex Sheyn, Design Lead at Bright Bright Great, feels like the kids were terrible for not allowing this “silly rabbit” to enjoy a bite of Trix when it was all he ever wanted. “As an adult, the whole ‘Trix are for kids’ tagline feels not only species-ist, but age-ist as well. #solidaritywithtrixrabbit.”