Positive Influences are few and far between. It’s a fact of life that for every “Practice Safe Sex” advertisement you see on TV there’s 50 drunk girls at a party throwing themselves at you (actual number of girls throwing themselves at you can and may vary). Couple the odds with your own inebriation, and well… common sense goes out the window. We as a people are an easily influenced bunch. Tell us that something is cool, and we’ll buy it. Tell us we should eat something, and we’ll order four. Tell us that Amy Winehouse is a class act, and we’ll call you a liar and sock you in the face, but in the long run probably still buy her CD.
The moral of the story is, we need all of the Positive Influences we can get in life, so we don’t go horribly astray and end up fighting our Jedi Master in a lightsaber duel with lots of hot lava nearby. Sure, we’ll end up living, but our skin will be all gross and no one will invite us over for poker night anymore.
One such place that Positive Reinforcement needs to return is in our Breakfast Cereal Commercials. As kids hovering infront of the part wood, part glass behemoths our parents called a television our young minds were attached like pit bulls to whatever the ad agencies had to throw at us. And we ate that shit up. I can’t begin to think of all the things that I demanded my mother buy me for no other reason then the television told me I should have it. If I were to make a list, first and foremost on that would be cereals. Just take Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cereal for example, it had “Ninja Nets and Marshmallows” which were supposedly a part of a well balanced breakfast. I had to have it.
Cereal commercials had us wrapped around their fingers, and this was mostly due to the fact that the mascots themselves were so charismatic and colorful, that we couldn’t resist. So, other than hawking their highly sweetened wares to us, what other lessons are Cereal Mascots teaching?
You Can Do Anything, If You’ve Had Breakfast
Tony the Tiger – Frosted Flakes
Tony the Tiger rampaged onto the scene way back in 1952 as the result of a contest where he bested a Kangaroo, Elephant, and a Gnu to be the new spokes”person” for Frosted Flakes Cereal. No, I didn’t make Gnu up, it’s an actual animal.
The signature voice and catchphrase “They’re Grrrreat!” was provided by Thurl Ravenscroft who also claims fame for the song “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” Feel free to thank me next time you win Trivial Pursuit with that little factoid. Ravenscroft was Tony the Tiger for over 5 decades, but I doubt even he noticed the distorted message that his character was sending to youth in America.
The message was two-fold, Frosted Flakes are Grrrreat and by eating them, you can overcome obstacles that would otherwise make you pee your pants. Tony had kids polevaulting, swimming laps, and in this commercial riding the shit out of a horse.
“You kids wanna go on a horsie ride?” asks the bully.
Tony doesn’t miss a beat and says “Sure, just let me eat some breakfast first jerkoff, it’s 7 in the morning.”
And with that, he and his eager to please pupil mount up like a secondhand Lone Ranger and Tonto team up to show those guys who’s boss. Not only do they ride dangerously, but their recklessness nearly causes the bully’s to be cast off a cliff. Well, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but they did have to reign in rather quickly.
But, is this the kindof message we need to be getting; that we can overcome adversity with the aid of only a sugar coated bowl of flaked cereal? If the boy had the talent in the first place, he shouldn’t have to eat before proving himself. All that’s going to do is upset his stomach from the rough ride. Or, if Tony the Tiger is indeed right, and breakfast is all it takes to succeed, give me a bowl, I’m heading to Las Vegas.
Discrimination Is Acceptable
The Trix Rabbit – Trix Cereal
“Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids.” In TVland’s Top 100 Quotes and Catchphrases, that hate laced sentence was number 59. It’s imbedded in our brains, and there’s nothing that a Martin Luther King Jr. inspired cartoon rabbit is going to do to change our mind.
The Trix rabbit has a dream, and that dream involves eating a bowl of delicious fruity cereal. Not too much to ask is it? Oh, but it is. You see, “Trix are for kids.” Just like the front of the bus was denied to Rosa Parks, this cereal is not for bunnies. Discrimation is an awful thing, but, the Trix Cereal commercials seem to encourage it.
The Trix Rabbit has been trying to obtain a bowl of cereal since 1969 when the Cereal Tycoons high atop their thrones made of gold, gave the masses the right to vote on whether or not to give the poor mascot any food. And vote they did; a resounding “No” was the answer provided. Over the years The Trix Rabbit has attempted costumes, sneaky methods, and even a genie to grab just a taste.
Even the aid of a fucking genie doesn’t net the Trix Rabbit some delicious cereal. Of course, he kinda asked for it when he blew his 3rd wish on wanting “the kids to see him.” Little known fact though is that the Trix Rabbit does indeed finally get to enjoy some cereal. But, he first has to WIN A TRIATHOLON! The prize, a bowl of Trix cereal. That was actually in 1980, he hasn’t had any in a commercial since.
Bothering Crazy People Is A Good Idea
Sonny – Cocoa Puffs
A long time favorite of chocolate fans, Cocoa Puffs has been a morning staple since the 1960’s. Back then Sonny the Cuckoo bird teamed up with his unoriginally named grandfather, Gramps, to speak of the wonders and magic of Cocoa Puffs. Sonny flies solo now, and one can only imagine that Gramps had had just about enough of the crazy behavior of his batshit crazy grandson.
Cocoa Puffs, themselves a reflavoring of the popular Kix cereal, are enough to drive Sonny right off the deep end no matter what it is he was doing. But still, people rubbed the cereal in his face. If Sonny was painting a house and a person walked by eating a heaping bowl of Cocoa Puffs you better believe that bird would drop the paint and brush, fall off the ladder, and knock over crippled kid to get at the bowl. Sounds crazy right, well it is. The popular phrase Sonny is wont to exclaim “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” is now commonly used as a slang term for insane. It was even mentioned during the murder trial of Susan Polk in 2006 when her youngest son was testifying. He stated his mom was “Bonkers” and “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”
That’s right kids, what a well thought out idea. Antagonize the crazy person. Even though Sonny has obviously realized he has a problem and is trying to do something about it by secluding himself in the spacecraft. Although I’m not sure there is a space program designed by NASA that aided addicts in breaking the habit. If those kids don’t learn to leave the poor bird alone, next thing you know the 6 O’clock News will be covering a story of cereal killer. Get it? Cereal Killer.
Hitting People Is Fine, But Only If They Hit You First
Dig’em – Honey Smacks
Jumping on the scene in 1953 was Sugar Smacks. Now known as Honey Smacks, the cereal actually changed names due to it’s own mascot, Dig ’em only calling the cereal “Smacks” in his commercial spots. I attribute this to the fact that Dig ’em was a frog, and so shouldn’t be expected to A) remember the script or B) be able to read the script in the first place. Producers should be glad that the damn thing managed to wear clothes.
Where Dig ’em really had a problem was not touting a cereal he couldn’t remember the name of. Or that it shared a name with a drug. It was the fact that he encouraged children to hit each other in his commercials. Breakfast isn’t an MMA Fight Dig ’em.
In order to avoid what we can only assume would be a nationwide street brawl amongst Honey Smacks customers, they changed their slogan to “I Dig ’em” in 1991.
Criminal Activity is Cool
Cookie Crook & Chip – Cookie Crisp Cereal
The original Cookie Crisp mascot, Cookie Jarvis is probably rolling around in his grave at the actions The Cookie Crook and Chip have taken to acquire a bowl of Cookie Crisp Cereal. The Crook and his dog took the stage in 1982 and, instead taking an active and responsible role in society by getting a job, began a life of crime which centered on the thievery of breakfast products. An act made all the more heinous because it brings up memories of the time a monkey stole my donut at the zoo.
The Cookie Cop was dispatched to bring in the hoodlum, and time and time again was made to look an ass. It was a regular activity to see the Cookie Crook break into some secret cookie shaped cereal manufacturing factory only to be spotted by the Cookie Cop. The Cookie Crook would then grab some cereal, stuff it in a bag, and casually flip the bird to the cop as he ran away.
Not only do we have Burglary, but now let’s throw in Resisting Arrest, a 3rd or 4th Degree Felony in most states, on top of Reckless Driving. Why not just have the Cookie Crook expose himself to viewers while we’re at it. What’s a little public indecency when you’re living a live of crime? Eventually execs decided that the interaction was degrading to law enforcement, and hired a new spokesman. I bet the Cookie Cop just got so pissed he eventually paid off someone to send The Cookie Crook to sleep with the fishes.
Cruelty To Animals Is Respectable Behavior
Sugar Bear – Super Golden Crisp
Perhaps it’s due to the fact that he is actually an animal, but Sugar Bear isn’t a very nice person. Originating in 1963, Sugar Bear immediately began doing battle with the elderly Granny Goodwitch. Their brawls revolved around one thing and one thing only. Boxes of cereal. Sure, I imagine getting his hands on money to go out and buy a box of cereal might have been difficult for Sugar Bear, but that’s no excuse for stealing from an old lady. Even if she was a witch. I’m sure she wasn’t always such a bad gal.
Of course, Sugar Crisp cereal had benefits that rivaled even Popeye’s spinach. So it’s easy to see why the cereal mascot had to have it so bad. We would find out in later commercials that Sugar Crisp provided a “Vitaman Packed Punch” making Sugar Bear virtually unstoppable. Taking this “Crunch with the Punch” on the road Sugar Bear ran into all sorts of other animals that also wanted a piece of the goods.
Obviously not one to recall his own desire for Sugar Crisp back in the day, Sugar Bear doesn’t even consider sharing, and instead kicks the shit out of everyone. Alligators, snakes, and sharks could bring it, but they’d be going home looking like assholes. My dog likes to have a piece of cheese every now and then, you don’t see me grabbing her by the tail and swinging her around my head like a lasso.
It may all be unintentional, but most of these cereals have been around for over 40 years. And all the while, it’s the same unsavory messages they spew out like pea soup on the set of The Exorcist.
It’s time to step up and change things. It’s all fine and dandy to foul up once or twice, but over the course of hundreds of commercials? Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on you still! I’m not taking the blame for your actions.