You’ve probably noticed that different cereal brands come out with “special Halloween editions” of their cereal usually by just altering the color or shapes of the cereal. However, those of us of a certain age remember the original “Monster Cereals” by General Mills which used to stick around all year long. 2021 marks the iconic cereals’ 50th anniversary and though the looks of the mascot monsters have changed over the years, the cereal has not. Well, there is a special edition featured this year, but more on that later.
A Tale of Two Monsters
For some, the golden age of cerealdom was created in March of 1971 when we saw our first glimpse of Count Chocula and Frankenberry, the oldest of the five. The Count was voiced by Larry Kenney impersonating Bela Lugosi saying things like “I vant to eat your cereal.” His strawberry-flavored cohort, Frankenberry was voiced by Bob McFadden who impersonated Boris Karloff. Count Chocula featured chocolate-flavored marshmallows (sometimes in the shape of bats) while Frankenberry featured strawberry-flavored marshmallow bits. The two monsters would often argue about which cereal tasted best.
In 1973, Boo Berry was added to the lineup that featured a ghost voiced by Paul Frees (who also voiced the Pillsbury Doughboy) impersonating Peter Lorre. The “spooky fun marshmallows” were blueberry-flavored.
In 1974, General Mills added Fruit Brute (now known as Frute Brute) to the trio which featured a werewolf who would go crazy for the cereal. According to Mr. Breakfast, the cereal was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film, Reservoir Dogs and 1994’s Pulp Fiction. The original cereal lasted from 1974-1982 and was revived briefly from 2013-2014.
Finally, Yummy Mummy arrived on store shelves in 1987 but some cereal purists don’t consider the cereal to be an official member of the Monster Cereal line-up, but for the sake of argument (and the fact that General Mills does) we’ll include it here. It was around from 1987-1992 and also revived briefly from 2013-2014.
On the Small Screen
Check out these vintage commercials and see if they don’t bring back memories.
According to General Mills, In 1979, the original trio of cereals boxes included three special records (known as “flexi discs”) in their packaging. The titles of the records were “Monster from Outer Space”, “Count Chocula Goes to Hollywood” and “The Monsters Go Disco.” In 2001, Manny Galan and Pat Giles, two creatives for the cereals celebrated the brand’s 30th anniversary by animated the first minute of the five story about the trio going to the disco.
General Mills if making a big deal out of the cereals’ 50th anniversary creating a new, limited-time edition of monsters cereal called Monster Mash. Each box includes a little of each of the five iconic brands. Sort of a graveyard of cereal. The company has also created boxes of Monster Mash fruit snacks too.
In addition, General Mills has created the mockumentary, The Remaking of the Mash: A Monster Miracle and the monsters themselves created a new version of the song The Monster Mash.
And finally, Karlee Morse, an award-winning special effects artist, was commissioned to create sculptures of the Count, Frankenberry and Boo Berry for the occasion. She talks about it in the video below. This celebration is so big, it’s scary.
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.