According to a recent article in 24/7 Wall St., a handful of beloved breakfast cereals are steadily declining in popularity -- and may end up in the annals of cereal history rather than being shoveled into the eager mouths of children every morning. The cereals currently on life support are pretty surprising, with big names like Special K, Corn Pops, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Cheerios and Corn Flakes.
Some of the decline in sales can be attributed to the fact that people are still getting kicked in the wallet by the anemic economy so they're grabbing the generics off the shelves instead of name brands. Then there's the fact that cereal bars have become the newer, quicker and more convenient breakfast choice. And with childhood obesity being center stage in the media right now, poor Rice Krispies may suffering from their role as a favorite ingredient in treats that are a household name, but not healthy by any stretch of the imagination.
Maybe these cereal companies need to do something crazy to win back customers -- the same way people who are broke go to Vegas and bet the house on a single hand so that they can pay rent. Here are our top five retro breakfast cereals that deserve a comeback:
5. Ice Cream Cones cereal. I'm pushing for this box of delicious but empty calories to hit the shelves again because I'm hoping it will serve as my own personal time machine without the hot tub or flux capacitor. I want to cruise backwards to a better time when I had a candy cigarette dripping from my lip instead of a real one. Back when Whitney Houston was a singer instead of a cautionary tale, shellacked hairstyles and plastic shoes were hot, and I could still get a date. But since none of those things are going to happen, I'll settle for a sugar fix and work myself into a coma so I have an excuse to skip my high school reunion.
4. Waffleos cereal.
Here was a cereal with absolutely no redeeming heath benefits, marketed in a time when Tubbs and Crockett made it supercool to max out credit cards (like they could really afford those cars and clothes on a vice cop's salary), sushi was expensive and I waited two months for the incomprehensibly tardy postal service to deliver my official Waffleos T-shirt in the mail after I judiciously saved my proofs-of-purchase.
I think this cereal making a comeback would fit in nicely with the here-and-now, since people are still racking up record numbers of credit debt to impress other people, sushi is still pricey and the USPS is still slower than a pack of vodka-fed donkeys.
3. Hidden Treasures cereal. This cereal was a hit for about five minutes because each of the little puffed-corn pillows hid a different surprise flavor -- but you weren't supposed to find out what they were until you bit into them. I was the nerdy, methodical child who discovered that I could just examine the seams and determine the flavors, but kids nowadays could really use something to get their brains primed for a day at the schoolhouse -- something to develop their right-brain thinking other than Googling all their damn homework and tests so that eventually our civilization isn't being run by lazy, drooling internet larvae who couldn't figure out a problem without a keyboard and a high-speed connection.
2. Batman cereal. Since the movies have been restarted and are much better than the old ones, it's perfectly possible that Batman cereal could get a decent makeover and a reload. I say f**k the kiddos on this one -- slap an "R" rating on it and market it to adults. Cover the box with photos of sweaty, shirtless Christian Bale beating the shit out of things; make the cereal itself into miniature, chocolate-frosted weapons and put a prize at the bottom of the box: a lotto ticket for a chance to spend an evening with Christian Bale. Watch boxes fly off the shelves with the prospect of one lucky gal or guy getting their nether hay Bale-d. And all you het guys, relax. You could just have a beer with him or something.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Fruit Brute cereal.
Bring it back. Quentin Tarantino already did half the marketing job for you by strategic product placement in two movies: Pulp Fiction (Lance/Eric Stoltz is grubbing it in front of the TV) and Reservoir Dogs (Mr. Orange/Tim Roth has a box in his apartment). Since Tarantino isn't going to stop being cool anytime soon, why not take a ride on his coat tails? Brute's innocuous lime-flavored marshmallows can't be any worse than the bad beer, bad chicken-based dishes and bad Key lime-infused desserts that are already haunting the culinary landscape.