The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

March 21, 2008

New Cereal in Old Boxes

Filed under: Design, Food — Tags: , , , , — Brian Lutz @ 2:23 am

If nothing happens to grab your attention while you’re passing through the cereal aisle at your grocery store, it’s certainly not from lack of trying.  It seems these days that cereal boxes keep getting more and more ostentatious in an effort to grab the attention of easily distracted youngsters.  On the other hand, the contents of the cereal boxes themselves haven’t really changed a whole lot over the years, and a lot of the brands of cereal we have on the shelf today happen to be the very same brands that our parents ate while they watched Saturday morning cartoons back when they were kids.  Perhaps in an effort to stand out by bringing back memories of a simpler time, General Mills has recently started putting a number of their most popular cereals in throwback packaging.

These two packages go quite a ways back.  Based on looking at vintage cereal box pictures found on this site, I’d say that the design on the Wheaties box is probably somewhere in the late Forties to early Fifties, hearkening back to a day before they started using pictures of real athletes.  I wasn’t able to find an example of the design on which the Kix box was based, but if I had to guess, I’d say they used a very early design, perhaps  even from the Thirties or Forties.  (Kix was first introduced in 1937, and was in fact the first example of the now popular “puffed” style of cereal to be introduced.)

The designs on the Lucky Charms and Golden Grahams boxes are somewhat newer,  Golden Grahams cereal was first introduced in the Seventies, and the very Seventies looking design on the package (which survived largely unchanged well into the Eighties) reflects this.  In fact, the rather more generic packaging used for Golden Grahams these days kind of tends to get lost on the shelf As for the Lucky Charms box, that particular design seems to have been used through the late Seventies and early Eighties (Here is a picture that shows this box design with an offer for Star Wars stickers, and another one on the site shows a similar design with Battlestar Galactica stickers as well.)  Interestingly enough, there are some subtle changes to the Lucky Charms box.  The picture of the cereal on the box reflects the current lineup of  marshmallows, which is far more diverse than the three or four shapes that the cereal had back when this box design was current.   The text has also changed somewhat, so that the modern box reads “frosted toasted oat cereal with marshmallow bits”, where the old box reads “Sugar frosted oat cereal with marshmallow bits” (although the word “sugar” was later eliminated on the older boxes as well.)   Currently there is also a vintage box in this style for Honey Nut Cheerios as well, but I don’t have a picture of that one right now, and to be honest, the packaging of that particular cereal has changed surprisingly little between now and then.

As you’ve probably noted from the pictures, General Mills is currently offering a set of T-shirts at this website in conjunction with these throwback boxes.  Unlike the T-shirts offered in some promotions, the ones from this one actually look like the type of thing that a sane person might actually wear out in public.  I suspect you could probably even find similar tees in one of those goth-infested pop culture outlets at your neighborhood mall, at a significantly higher price than the $5 (plus shipping and handling, of course) that these ones are being sold for.  In fact, there’s just one tiny little problem with the T-shirt offers…

 

It seems that when someone copied the front of the box onto the design used for the back of the box, they didn’t bother to remove the T-shirt offer.  I guess I can see their point though.  Looking through the cereal box archive linked above, it is  surprisingly difficult to find a cereal box of any vintage that doesn’t have one special offer or another plastered on the front of the box.  I guess this means they’re just keeping with tradition, right? 

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