Cereal is dying. It’s unfortunate but true. Sales have tumbled by almost 30 percent over the past 15 years, and younger generations just don’t seem as interested in what was once the ultimate breakfast staple. While sad, the decline of cereal consumption has been a long time coming, and hopefully it means that families are enjoying healthier breakfasts.
Still, we’re a bit bummed about the cereal market’s troubled times, especially because it means that brands are now far less eager to take risks on strange, unconventional variations. Over the years, there were countless strange cereals, whether for cross-marketing purposes (oh hey ET cereal) or simply to shake things up a bit (what’s up, Pop-Tarts Crunch), many of which never caught on enough to last that long. For the sake of some cereal nostalgia, are some of the most bizarre cereals that are no longer available.
Maker: General MillsLifespan: 1987 – 1992
Most cereal-eaters are familiar with Count Chocula and Franken Berry, which still make guest appearances around the Halloween season. But did you know that General Mills released a total of five monster-themed cereals, including the doomed Fruity Yummy Mummy? Other spooky offerings included the ghostly Boo-Berry and the unappetizing, Wolfman-styled Fruit Brute. Somehow, though, a cereal centered around the idea of a decaying corpse looks the least enticing, which could explain its short time spent on shelves.
Maker: General MillsLifespan: 1984 – Unknown
Not only did some executive think this was a smart licensing idea, but they also signed off on a box cover featuring E.T. hovering his glowing finger dangerously close to an otherwise decent-looking bowl of cereal. This peanut butter and chocolate-flavored breakfast tried to capitalize on the popularity of Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, but never managed to reach the same level of popularity.
Maker: Kellogg’sLifespan: 1994 – 1995
By 1994, Pop-Tarts had conquered a formidable space on American breakfast tables, so it feels extraneous for the brand to try its hand at a slightly different breakfast offering. Pop-Tarts Crunch was a multi-grain cereal that came in two varieties: Strawberry and Brown Sugar Cinnamon. Considering that one of Pop-Tarts biggest conveniences is their portability, the cereal’s slogan was particularly odd: “They’re Pop-Tarts for your spoon.”
Dunkin’ Donuts Cereal
Maker: Ralston CerealsLifespan: 1988 – 1990
Before kids were old enough to get hooked on Dunkin’ Donuts’ suspiciously-addicting coffee, the chain tried to indoctrinate them at home with its own brand of cereal. Offered in two flavors — Glazed Style and Chocolate — the donut-themed breakfast looked almost like Cheerios but tasted as sugary as you’d expect from something donut-flavored.
Maker: Ralston CerealsLifespan: 1991 – Unknown
Released at the height of “Urkel-mania,” Urkel-Os attempted to play off the popularity of the well-known Family Matters goofball. Urkel-Os were banana and strawberry flavored, and included “Urkel for President” stickers. In 1992, the cereal even held a contest to win a trip to Washington D.C. Still, Urkel-Os somehow seem like a better promotional tie-in than Milton Bradley’s Urkel board game.
Nintendo Cereal System
Maker: Ralston CerealsLifespan: 1986 – 1989
Nintendo’s short-lived attempt at breaking into the cereal business actually had an interesting concept: two cereals in one. Based on two of the most popular video games for the NES at the time, Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, each fruity-flavored cereal came in a separate bag inside the box. Kids were encouraged to mix and match cereal bits shaped after characters and items like Marios, Links, Koopas, and shields. Evidently, the gimmick didn’t catch on.
Mr. T Cereal
Maker: Quaker OatsLifespan: 1984 – 1993
Mr. T’s corn and oats cereal was surprisingly a huge hit with children, with the very unsurprising tagline, “I pity the fool who don’t eat my cereal.” The breakfast arrived at the height of Mr. T’s The A-Team and Rocky III popularity, and also made a well-known appearance in a scene from 1985’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, in which Pee Wee holds up the box and painfully recites its tagline.
G.I. Joe Action Stars
Maker: Ralston CerealsLifespan: 1985 – 1990
G.I. Joe Action Stars came out at the same time as G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero to promote the animated TV show. The cereal bits were shaped like hollowed-out stars and were said to have tasted like Lucky Charms without the marshmallows. There were several variations of the Action Stars cereal box, each featuring a different character from G.I. Joe in a dramatic pose.
Maker: Ralston CerealsLifespan: 1985 – 1986
Nerds candy’s sour, tangy flavor doesn’t exactly lend itself well to cereal, but its bright, colorful aesthetic sure does. So Ralston Cereals and Nestlé went ahead with this unpopular team-up. Like the original candy, Nerds Cereal featured orange, cherry, strawberry, and grape-flavored bits, which came out looking identical to their inspiration.
Maker: Post CerealsLifespan: 1997 – 2007
Oreo O’s leaned right into the sugary cereals trope. These chocolatey, O-shaped bits didn’t make for the most balanced breakfast, but it did pretty well in terms of sales. Unfortunately, Oreo O’s production ground to a halt when Kraft, which owned the Oreos copyright, broke off their partnership with Post, which owned the cereal recipe. Due to a legal loophole, though, Oreo O’s are somehow still available in South Korea.