Who says cereals don’t have prizes anymore?
Years ago, your choice of cereal maybe had more to do with the prize or giveaway pictured on the box than the cereal itself.
Loyalty to one brand over another was sometimes fleeting, and you may have asked your mom to buy several different cereals at each trip to the store.
“As a kid, many times the toy was the reason I bought the cereal,” says Adam Naide, a cereal super-fan in Georgia, who I met via social media. “I remember racing to open up the box when I got home and sometimes the prize would be outside the bag, another time I would have to stick my hand in the cereal bag to dig for it.”
Naide told me Matchbox cars were his favorite, in Quaker’s cereals. And he still has some that he collected.
Topher Ellis, co-author of The Great American Cereal Book” and writer of “The Boxtop” Cereal Newsletter, recalls fighting his two younger brothers for the cereal box prize. His favorite was the Winnie-the-Pooh character spoon sitters from Nabisco.
He says prizes inside the cereal box – though now fewer than ever – remain a big draw.
“Prizes inside cereal boxes make you feel like you’re getting something for nothing, an extra special deal since they are less common now,” says Ellis. “We wax nostalgically about them – it’s exciting to get a semi-mystery prize in your cereal box … I know there is a large contingent of collectors, let alone baby boomers, who miss the prizes and will purchase the boxes just to get the prizes.”
Naide and Ellis will like the Mega Bloks cars we’re currently rolling out across the U.S. – more on those in a moment.
But first, some cereal prize history.
General Mills has been surprising cereal lovers with fun toys and games right inside the box, or by mail, for more than 90 years.
Our first on or in-the-box premium is believed to be Skippy cards, featured on 12 different Wheaties packages in 1933.
Wheaties also offered numerous cut-out masks on the box, starting in 1947. There were at least 60.
Other prominent prize highlights from our past include Lone Ranger Comic books in 1954, on Cheerios.
Several rings were offered in the 1940s and 1950s, by Kix, Wheaties and Cheerios – this one featured the Green Hornet.
One of our most memorable items were the mini license plates available in Wheaties boxes in 1954. Our Consumer Relations team still receives phone calls, emails and letters about them.
“From almost the very beginning, General Mills has added a special offer in our cereals for moms, dads and kids,” says Susan Wakefield, corporate archivist at General Mills. “It just amazes me how creative the company has been with the promotions and premiums, as well as the sweepstakes.”
Now to today’s news…
Mega Bloks have teamed up with Big G.
Cereal fans of all ages will find a Mega Bloks car inside specially-marked boxes. They’re customizable, with a set of stickers featuring the beloved Hello Kitty and iconic Power Rangers and build-it-yourself jumps. They also work with all Mega Bloks you might already have at home.
“We have seen a growth in construction play patterns and know that customization is on trend. So, Mega Bloks was a perfect partner to team up with and help deliver a prize that helps to promote fine motor skills and creativity,” says Kelley Walhof, assistant manager, Integrated Marketing Communications, for Big G. “It’s a great way to continue to surprise and excite American families with something of real value included with their favorite cereal.”
There are four cars to collect or give to a Mega Bloks fan in your life. Participating brands include Honey Nut Cheerios, Reese’s Puffs, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Golden Grahams and Cinnamon Toast Crunch – available while supplies last.
After the Mega Bloks promotion, Kelley says we’ll have something for fans of the popular Skylanders franchise. The Skystones game will be on the back of packages for fun, interactive play. And, there will be an offer of free, exclusive sets of Skystones cards in packages. Look for that in February and March.
Did you have a favorite cereal box prize from your past?
Editor’s note: The General Mills Archives provided information and images for this post. You can learn more about our past on GeneralMills.com. Have a question about General Mills’ history? Send our Archives team an email.
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