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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