One of the things we miss most about childhood is the prizes we used to get in cereal boxes. It was a genuine thrill to open up a box, pour out some of that sweet breakfast treat, and out would come a toy. There were all sorts of prizes packaged into the boxes over they years, and we’ve probably gotten most of them at some time or another.
So we decided to compile a list of ten facts about cereal companies and the toys they put in their boxes:
- W.K. Kellogg was the first to use this marketing strategy, making a book called The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book available to purchasers of two boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, who could pick the book up in stores.
- The book prize premium marketing campaign that Kellogg’s used turned out to be a fairly successful venture. They continued using it for then next 23 years, with an estimated 2.5 million books having been distributed. This, even after they began charging 10 cents a copy.
- The 1954 introduction of the wildly popular baking powder submarine prize coincided with the commission of the first nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus, which fueled its success as a cereal box prize.
- In 1974, the Federal Trade Commission nearly banned television commercials for cereal brands that used prizes in the packages as a means of selling the product. The FTC was pushing to eliminate deceptive advertising, and felt that the prizes were inducing children to eat a product they considered to be too high in sugar.
- In addition to prizes placed in the box, there have also been prizes placed on cereal boxes over the years as well. Prizes including 45 rpm records, superhero masks, and holograms have at various times been affixed to box exteriors.
- As technology increasingly permeated pop culture, cereal box prizes increased in sophistication along with it. Cereal box prizes were known to include things like compter games and CD’s to appeal to the more tech-savvy kids.
- According to the Internet Museum of Flexi/Cardboard/Oddity Records , which boasts a huge collection of cereal box records, the first cereal to use records as a prize was Wheaties, back in the 1950′s.
- According to a mathematical study conducted at Illinois University, if a company offers a set of six different prizes in their cereal boxes, a kid would have to eat 14.7 boxes of the stuff in order to insure he’d collect all six prizes.
- From 1945 through 1947, Kellogg’s had offered 5 sets of buttons depicting popular comic strip characters. Each set contained 18 different characters, meaning that cereal munchers needed to collect 90 different pins. Oh, professor …
- Cheerios Dollars, which were Sacagawea Dollars packaged into 5,500 boxes of Cheerios in order to raise public awareness of the new Sacagawea Dollar, were discovered to have been struck from different minting dies than the rest of the dollars. They are now worth as much as $25,000 apiece.