The ultimate guide to Monster Cereals
“I remember my brother ‘claiming’ Count Chocula, my sister Boo Berry, so that left me with Franken Berry, as the youngest,” says Tim Starry of Tucson, Arizona. “Without divulging my age, I will say I have been enjoying Franken Berry for more than 30 years.”
Starry is a Monster Cereals super fan (Franken Berry, in particular). He loves the taste of the marshmallows, the strawberry-frosted cereal, the ratio of cereal to marshmallows and that it tastes equally terrific with milk as it does when snacking on it right out of the box.
“Besides the quality and childhood memories, I think the limited nature is a draw,” Starry says. “If something amazing is only available for a month or two a year – you may as well get a little crazy!”
Franken Berry fanatic Starry is just one of the Monster Cereal consumers, according to Tsubasa Tanaka, marketing manager with Big G.
“The scarcity of the crowd-favorite, seasonal cereals make them sought after by kids and adults alike,” Tsubasa says. “Halloween fanatics, pop culture aficionados, busy parents who grew up eating it while watching cartoons on Saturday morning and want to pass down the tradition to their own kids and, this year, even comics collectors! Monster Cereals consumers are really diverse.”
And with this kind of history, who can blame them?
Count Chocula and Franken Berry were introduced in March 1971. They became wildly popular in an instant because Count Chocula was the first chocolate-flavored cereal with chocolate-flavored marshmallow bits and Franken Berry was the only strawberry-flavored cereal on the market.
Despite the fact that Count Chocula and Franken Berry were inspired by classic horror film vampires and the Frankenstein monster, in early commercials the cereal monsters were nervous nellies – often quickly becoming afraid of just about everything.
In 1973, Boo Berry was introduced. All three Monster Cereals have been in production ever since.
In 1974, Frute Brute was added and, in 1987, Fruity Yummy Mummy was introduced. Monster Cereals fans were saddened when Frute Brute was discontinued in 1982 and Fruity Yummy Mummy was retired in 1992. But both came back from the dead and were reintroduced for a limited time in 2013.
Vintage Frute Brute (also known as Fruit Brute) boxes are highly sought after by collectors — probably because they were used by movie director Quentin Tarantino in both “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction.”
Artist George Carn drew the first images of Count Chocula (he also designed the Trix Rabbit). And though the images of the Monsters changed periodically over the years, never was the makeover more dramatic than in 2014 when DC Comics artists Jim Lee, Dave Johnson and Terry and Rachel Dodson illustrated their limited edition versions of Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry.
But it wasn’t always just about the cereal and the boxes. Sometimes what was inside the boxes is what counted.
Some of the Monster Cereal prizes over the years have included:
* Monster music records, including “Monsters Adventures in Outer Space”
* Glow-in-the-dark stickers
* Beach bag
* Coloring poster kit
* Light switch covers
* Monster mini mugs
* Monster towels
So, what is it that makes the Monster Cereals so popular?
“They are an incredible part of pop culture,” says Tsubasa. “Our fans eagerly wait for the Monsters to hit shelves each year. The characters have such incredible personalities. Each one has a distinct sense of humor and spirit – you can’t help but fall in love with them!”
And while fans agree that it isn’t Halloween without Monster Cereals, would we ever consider carrying them year-round?
“The three original brands were in year-round production for almost 20 years,” says Tsubasa. “The Monsters are a natural fit for Halloween. There are no current plans to distribute the cereal year-round again, but you never know!”
Will Frute Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy break out of the vault again? Will there ever be a new cereal Monster? Tsubasa and the Big G team are keeping quiet.
Monster Cereal fans will just need to stay tuned.
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