A Cereal Box Prize Surprise

Remember the great feeling you had to be the first to open a brand new cereal box and dig deep into its contents looking for some promotional prize?  Sometimes the treasure hunting would take several frustrating minutes until you found the novelty.  Was the prize on top or on the bottom, did you need to shake the box or look between the box and the plastic liner? Or the dreaded dump the cereal into a big bowl to find it.

Marketers sure knew what they were doing.  Those prizes were a great way to entice mothers to purchase their product.  When I would shop with my mom cereal sections were solely based on prizes and when I wasn’t with her my mother knew she would not be allowed in our house without a box of Sugar Pops with a prize inside.
For the most part I had the reigns to these promotional items. However there were times when it was simply war between my sister and I, fighting over who got to keep the disappearing ink pen.  On one occasion my mother and all her frustration decided she had enough of the bickering over plastic toys and therefore implemented the shared prize box.  Lame.  I would just steal the prizes when no one was looking.  Go figure.

Prizes came in many forms: race cars, action figures and all sorts of great novelty items. I still remember my first cereal box prize, a Fruity Pebbles coin purse that I then used to purchase milk at the Kindergarten cafeteria (though it was difficult to get the coins out).

Here are some cool items:

  • License Plates from Honeycomb
  • Mini Pez dispensers from General Mills
  • Baking soda powered Diving Frogman
  • 3-D baseball cards from Kellogg’s (everyone loved to scratch them and make cool sounds)

It’s amazing what a little plastic toy could do, but it did positively impact our moods.  At least for the next 30 minutes.  Yes, it was a wonderful time; but it has been years since cereal manufacturers have placed prizes in their boxes.

Sure, on occasion you will get a code to enter into a website to play some ridiculous game and just recently Kellogg’s launched its www.kelloggsfamilyrewards.com  where you can earn a variety of rewards including Kellogg’s products, books and gift card.  But unfortunately the plastic treasures are no more.  And sometimes you may have a form to mail for some crummy DVD.

So what happened?  Some say that kids today are just more boring. Some say manufacturers are cheap.  And others say that the toys were choking hazards and contained lead.  I say just like video killed the radio star, the internet killed the cereal toy (In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone too far).  Manufacturers most likely looking to save some costs, but also noticing the trends and behaviors of children simply adjusted their promotional strategy according.  Good marketing? You can decide.


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