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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Michael McHugh

Why Don’t Cereals Have Toys Inside Anymore?

Updated: May 1, 2022

Man, I remember I got one of these toy Starbots in a Kellogg’s cereal back in the day. It was the helicopter one. So amazing!

So when I had kids, and finally got back into sugary cereals, I was completely bummed to find out that there weren’t prizes in any of them—at all! Now, full disclosure: I think I have found a couple cereals with toys in it in the past nine years. And of course I make a big deal about it. I’m like, “Miles, Haley, come! Gather around the cereal box! Let us did for treasure!”

So where my toys at?

As legend tells us, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was the first cereal to offer free stuff around the turn of the century. Oh, wait, not this last century turn, the one before that. Let’s say 1909. That’s when, if you bought two boxes of Corn Flakes, you got The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book. Check it out, the 1909 copy is going for around $80.

But then Kellogg’s got greedy. I mean smart, and they made it a mail on offer for a dime. A dime, remember those? Like the song “Here’s a dime, call someone who cares.” Updated to “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.” And now there’s no pay phones. So now it can be like, “Here, borrow my cell phone and call someone who cares.” Actually don’t borrow my cell phone because I don’t care about you. Find your own darn cell phone!

So I says to myself, “Self, what did happen to the toys in the boxes?” Everything I’ve read pretty much points to the fact that the cereal makers got cheap. And giving away free swag can get costly. Adding to the reasons for the demise of toys in cereal is a post on the website, where I do all my research.

It’s interesting. They say that in 1988 there was a recall of 30 million flutes and binoculars that were in boxes of Kellogg’s cereal because they were a choking hazard. Hey, a 45 record is a choking hazard too if you do it right.

The post also says that back in 1974 the FTC actually banned the TV advertising of so called “premiums” to kids.

But we’re not going to end on a sad note. This is Instantly Dated, baby! Check out this ad from 2013.

That’s right, FTC. Put that minion toy in your mouth and choke on it!

I remember making such a big deal out of pulling this toy out for my son, Miles. It was like we found ark of the lost covenant. Except neither of our faces melted.


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