Cereal equality NOW!

Recently, I wrote a post for
my blog (yes, I’ve been writing for other blogs. I’m sorry
you had to find out like this, but maybe it’s for the best.
It’s me, not you — you’re lovely, I swear) about the Monster Cereals
of the 1970s

Boo Berry, Frankenberry, and Count Chocula.

My nostalgia-fueled treatise later got me thinking about cereal in general,
which led to me thinking — OK, some might say obsessing — about
the total lack of gender equality in the world of the cereal mascot.

Pop quiz, hotshot: Quick — name
a cereal with a single, recognizable cartoon mascot who’s a girl.

Did you come up with anyone?
Sorry, Strawberry Shortcake and Rainbow Brite don’t
count. Sure, they had their own cereals for a time, but they had
other careers before they got into cereal promotion.

You know, like

Urkel (yes, Urkel of the sitcom Family Matters gave the world
“Urkel-Os,” and I think we can all agree that it was a dark time
in American history).

I’m talking about characters like Sugar
Bear and Toucan Sam, those who made their mark by convincing
children that starting the day with a massive bowl of sugar and dye
was the best thing ever. Where my girls at?

Not front and center in the
cereal aisle, that’s for sure. After poring over pages and pages
of mascots at Topher’s Breakfast Cereal Character Guide
(yes, I pored so you don’t have to … because I care), I discovered
that my worst fears were, in fact, true (yes, my “worst fears” … what,
is that too melodramatic?): Female equivalents of, say, Cap’n Crunch

simply don’t exist.

Anymore, at least. In
the first half of the 20th century (1907–20s, and again
1940–46), Kellogg’s gave The Sweetheart of the Corn a chance
to hawk Corn Flakes, but not a chance to actually, you know, have a
proper name.

In the heady days of the1940s, when Cheerios were
known as Cheerioats, a sprightly, patriotic lass named Cheeri O’Leary
informed the world that Cheerioats were undoubtedly “the breakfast
food you’ve always wanted!” Little is known about Ms. O’Leary’s
days after her moment in the spotlight, and her current whereabouts
are a complete mystery.

Female characters have appeared
on cereal boxes from time to time in an ensemble situation. The
short-lived Rocky Road was promoted by a cartoon band whose singer,
Marsha, was a girl … but then, she was also a chocolate-covered marshmallow,
so I’m not sure if she counts. The same can be said about

The Freakies, a band of blobby-looking characters
who entered the market riding the wave of the aforementioned Monster
Cereals of the ‘70s. Two of the Freakies were girls, but according
to our own Dara/bad machine, they were “a bitch and an insecure bookworm.”
Yay, positive role models!

While girls obviously can’t
be trusted to sell cereal all by their lonesomes, there are plenty of
secondary female characters to be found. Frosted Flakes’ Tony
the Tiger had quite the family, for a time. In the 1950s, his son
Tony, Jr was introduced … his wife, Mrs. Tony, however, didn’t
come along until 20 years later; with her came a daughter, Antoinette.
Considering that his entire family has names that are merely some variation
on his own, it’s obvious to me that in the end, Tony’s ego drove
away his wife and children — they haven’t been seen in years.
Let’s hope he’s a grrrrrrreat

dad (yes, I went there) and keeps up with the child support.

The roster of second bananas
also includes Granny Goodwitch, who appeared in the 1960s to
help promote Post’s Sugar Crisp. There are conflicting reports
as to whether she was actually a help or a hindrance to Sugar Bear in
acquiring said Sugar Crisp, but really, the important thing to note is
that she was voiced by comedienne Ruth Buzzi
of Laugh-In.

All told, however, my best
research indicates that it’s been more than 50 years since a new and
exclusive female cereal mascot has appeared on the scene. If my
best research wasn’t good enough and I’m forgetting someone, please … correct
me. If I’m right — and oh, I hope I’m not, for the implications
would be staggeringly frightening — then I say we organize a march of
some sort to make our voices heard. We demand cereal equality
NOW! I’ll get back to you when I think of a slogan that rhymes.

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