There’s nothing like those mornings before school when you put on your favorite cartoons and poured a big bowl of your favorite 80’s cereal. Well, of your favorite cereals, because it was impossible to choose just one.
Ah, what a golden age the ’80s were, and beyond all the technological innovations and social changes it brought, breakfast cereal is undoubtedly something that today’s adults remember with great affection and still have their flavor engraved on their palate despite the time that has passed.
Cereal in the 1980s took an important leap in the food industry, expanding not only their flavors and shapes but also their marketing campaigns, leading to the birth of many great cereal mascots based on famous pop culture characters.
Some of these popular 80s cereal brands are still around today, while others have become nothing more than a memory of Saturday mornings in front of the TV. But if one thing is clear, it is that they have all been a vital part of the childhood of millions.
Put your taste buds in nostalgic mode because we are going to review
The 25 Best Cereal Brand Of The 1980s
Clusters Cereal (1986)
Company: General Mills
When it comes to a quick bowl of cereal, nuts are always a good choice, but Clusters took it to another level, offering a mix of chopped walnuts, pecans, and walnuts. Of course, cornflakes could not be missing, and all together resulted in a delicious explosion of flavors whose sweet touch was given by the honey that covered the nuts.
But beyond its gastronomic values, you probably remember the Clusters for sponsoring the Seinfeld series, starring comedian Jerry Seinfeld. The amazing thing is that if you got two boxes with a special promotion on the back, you could claim a free videotape of the best of Seinfeld.
The series may not be directed at children, but it was a clever ploy to appeal to a more mature audience. Although the little ones weren’t ignored either, as the commercials starring a Clusters-crazed squirrel were aimed at them.
All in all, Clusters will always be remembered as one of the healthier choices at the time.
Almond Delight (1986)
Nothing better than starting with the delicacy of almonds as the main attraction, but perfectly accompanied by brown sugar, coconut, and other ingredients.
Almond Delight was betting on an approach to more audiences with its more universal presentation, with no need for a mascot, only its flakes and almond slivers were enough to capture the masses.
One of the most memorable things about this delicious breakfast food was its marketing campaign “free cash in every box”, as literal as it sounds, 4.9 million boxes were distributed in which consumers could find from $1 to $500. Those who were not lucky were not left empty-handed either, as there were replica bills in the box.
With such initiatives and its delicious taste, many adults are now clamoring for the return of Almond Delight, which was discontinued in 1996.
Company: Quaker Oats
Let’s go with one that is little known but has become almost a cult product. When parents began to worry about the excess sugar in their children’s favorite cereals, Quaker came to the rescue with its new offering, Halfsies, “the first children’s cereal with half the sugar of most sugar-coated cereals.”
Not only with that but with half corn and half rice, this cereal was characterized as being like Cap’n Crunch but with a different presentation and less sugar.
But as we’re used to in this industry, Halfsies did contain a certain percentage of sugar higher than they claimed, although the kids loved it anyway. Well, come to think of it, they could care less about sugar.
After just two years on the market, Halfsies was discontinued, but it still managed to make a mark on some adults who especially remember the competitions sponsored by this cereal in which they could win an arcade machine, with all the size that goes with it.
S’mores Crunch (1982)
Company: General Mills
For all the kids who loved to go camping, this delicious cereal was the perfect food to replicate those amazing wilderness experiences with its chocolate-covered graham pieces and delicious marshmallow bits.
That simple combination isn’t the most nutritious, but it’s clearly one of the most fun, which is why it was such a hit with kids.
Part of its good sales is due to its entertaining commercials, in which several children went through all kinds of obstacles and problems to get a box of this precious cereal. Fortunately, The S’morecerer was always around the corner to help them.
Although they said goodbye to the markets in the early 90s, S’mores Crunch remains in the memory of the 80s generation as one of the most energetic options to start the day.
Rocky Road Cereal (1986)
Company: General Mills
With all the power of music and inspired by the ice cream flavor of the same name, this cereal was characterized by its commercials starring Choco, a guitar-playing chocolate corn, Van, a vanilla corn puff guitarist, and Marsha, a chocolate-covered marshmallow and the lead singer of the group.
This peculiar band represents what cereal is, but in the words of the adults who enjoyed it, is like a mixture of Kix, Coco Puffs, and their own concoction of cereal bits. It definitely made more than one child sing at breakfast.
The dentures and parents may not have been at all happy with the Rocky Road, but for the little ones in the house, it was a perfect sugar shot to start the day, giving them enough energy for school.
Ice Cream Cones Cereal (1986)
Company: General Mills
Undoubtedly, this General Mills cereal is one of the most creative proposals ever seen in the market. Eating ice cream every morning is a delight, but since it is not the best nutritional option, what’s better than a cereal based on ice cream? It’s like hacking the stomach.
With a few small cones and some chocolate or vanilla balls, the pieces of this cereal were the perfect simulation of ice cream, and you could stack as many balls as you wanted on each cone. And you’d better do it because the pieces were created to be eaten together, and boy, were the scoops sweet on their own.
If that wasn’t already the best, Ice Cream Jones was the icing on the cake as the charismatic, singing ice cream man who entertained kids in his commercials.
Unfortunately, Ice Cream Cones Cereal barely lasted a year in the markets, but General Mills temporarily revived them in 2003 to celebrate the ice cream cone’s 100th anniversary. It was nice but they should come back permanently, please.
Maple syrup has always been one of the great snack accompaniments in history, almost on par with peanut butter, but I dare say that maple is a must when there are waffles on the table. I can’t imagine them separately, impossible.
Waffelos knew how to capitalize very well on that combination, presenting a cereal with waffle-shaped pieces covered with an artificial maple flavor. But heck, if you wanted to, you could even add more maple to the cup.
With Waffelo Bill and his trusty horse bragging about the 8 vitamins in Waffelos, the cereal mascots shone as one of the most recognizable mascots of the 80s.
Plus, if maple syrup flavored cereal wasn’t your thing, there was a Blueberry version. There was simply no way you couldn’t love Waffelos.
Ghostbusters Cereal (1985)
It was about time that cereals first started incorporating famous franchises, and what better way to start than with Ghostbusters? When the movie swept theaters nationwide in 1985, it wasn’t long before you could find ghosts everywhere, even in your cereal bowl.
With fruit-flavored pieces and multi-colored marshmallows, including the infamous Slimer, Ghostbusters Cereal’s approach was simple but effective, attracting millions of kids who felt they were busting a lot of ghosts by gobbling up this cereal.
It’s worth noting that a few years later, it was renamed The Real Ghostbusters Cereal to direct attention to the animated series (and not to be confused with the Ghostbusters by Filmation). And that was the perfect excuse to produce more commercials for this cereal that successfully managed to increase its sales.
And since it’s all about cowboys, OJ’s cereal was Kellogg’s bid to make the typical orange juice your mom made you drink every morning more fun.
Don’t get me wrong, orange juice tastes nice and is healthy, but OJ’s literally turned it into cereal, with little orange and yellow balls that pretended to be the fruit.
But the appearance was the least of it, as the cereal was made with 10% orange juice and other natural flavors. And as expected, OJ’s were promoted as having the same amount of vitamin C as four ounces of orange juice in each cup.
Despite being a “healthy” option and its charismatic mascot, the wild orange-riding cowboy OJ Joe, OJ’s failed to appeal to the masses, probably because the idea of cereal based on a glass of orange juice seemed strange or too boring.
I wonder how OJ’s would do if relaunched today…
Mr. T Cereal (1984)
Company: Quaker Oats
The iconic actor Mr. T couldn’t be without his signature cereal either, which of course hit the markets at the perfect time to boost the success of his animated series.
Loaded with iron and vitamin B, with T-shaped pieces of corn and oats, and a flavor inspired by Cap’N Crunch, Mr. T Cereal was a total hit with the kids of the time, who believed that a good bowl of this product every day would make their muscles grow as much as Mr. T.
Of course, that takes a lot more than eating cereal, but at least they took the phrase “pity the fool who doesn’t eat my cereal” seriously.
Despite being discontinued, Mr. T Cereal is still quite present in popular culture, especially in series and movies, with appearances in Stranger Things and Bumblebee.
Cookie Crisp (1977)
Although they hit the market in the late 70s, Cookie Crisp exploded in popularity in the 80s, and its premise of recreating the typical cookies you found hidden in your grandmother’s jar was a great idea.
This cereal came in two flavors: Chocolate Chip and Vanilla Wafer, but Coolie Crisp tasted like cookies and looked like cookies, so it’s no surprise that kids loved them. Plus, the wizard Cookie Jarvis gave it a special touch in the commercials.
But over time, Cookie-Crisp passed into the hands of General Mills, and while they’ve kept the cereal in circulation to this day, many fans consider the original Ralston’s Cookie Crisp to be much better. Get your act together General Mills!
Powdered Donutz (1980)
Company: General Mills
Continuing the trend of miniaturizing the most popular snacks of the moment, this heavily sweetened cereal would come along to give you the perfect excuse to have donuts for breakfast. That’s right, donuts!
Described as a crispy, sweetened, 3-grain cereal with pieces that looked and tasted like real donuts, Powdered Donuts took the market by surprise upon their arrival but quickly won the hearts of many kids.
Although we are 30 years after they were discontinued, there has yet to be a sugary cereal that comes close to Powdered Donutz. Maybe because the feeling that there was magic in your bowl is hard to replicate, or because they were very unhealthy due to their high sugar content. Yeah… we’ll go with the first reason.
Pac-Man Cereal (1983)
Company: General Mills
You probably spent an indecent amount of hours in the arcades playing Pac-Man and trying to beat the other kids’ records. I don’t blame you for that, I did too… and still do, Pac-Man 99 anyone?
To capitalize on the enormous success of the video game, General Mills launched the official Pac-Man cereal, described as a crunchy sweetened corn cereal with marshmallow bits.
Just like the legendary character, you could become a ghost chomper thanks to the cereal, as its marshmallow bits were shaped like Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde, Pac-Man’s classic enemies. Although there were also pieces of the yellow Pac-Man, so you were a hero and a villain at the same time, I guess. Cool!
As the video game kept growing during the 80′, the cereal also expanded to new variations, like a cereal with bigger pieces in honor of Super Pac-Man and also an edition with pink marshmallows like Ms. Pac-Man.
Smurf Berry Crunch (1983)
Although the ’80s are full of iconic fictional characters that are still talked about today, the Smurfs belonged to that small group that completely dominated the decade thanks to their animated series.
Made with whole-grain oats, wheat, and corn, their red and black pieces looked like they came right out of the Smurfs’ smurfberry patch. There was simply no better companion than this Post cereal to watch this animated series in the morning. It was a moment full of magic.
And if that wasn’t enough, each box had a Smurf Village Smurf sticker inside, a perfect marketing strategy to keep you returning to the cereal aisle until the collection was complete.
In 1987, Post launched a second edition of the cereal, called Magic Berries, which were quite similar to the original product but with the addition of marshmallows. They improved on the unbeatable, although they dyed many children’s “waste” blue.
Life was tough being a Smurfs character in the 80s.
Super Golden Crisp (1985)
After almost 40 years in the market, Sugar Crisp was renamed Super Golden Crisp in 1985 to renew its brand and attract new customers. And boy, did they succeed, as the attractive golden-colored box and the charisma of the Sugar Bear mascot made it impossible for the cereal to go unnoticed by children in the market.
With its honey-sweetened wheat poufs, Sugar Golden Crisp was not only a delight while you were eating it, but when you finished the bowl, you were left with a pleasant honey flavor on your palate.
Something that boosted its popularity was the different toys and activities that you could find in the cereal boxes, such as didactic images, scenarios that you could cut out, and of course, a pack of real coins from different countries that were only available in the premium boxes.
Today, you can still enjoy this little cereal under the name of Golden Crisp and Sugar Bear still remains as its mascot.
Nintendo Cereal System (1988)
Company: Ralston (they weren’t sued by Nintendo, they had the official license)
The 80s were a golden age for video games in general, but if you can proclaim a clear winner, that would be Nintendo, the Japanese company owner of countless franchises that marked our childhood.
Replicating the acronym of the NES, the Nintendo Cereal System arrived at the end of the 80s to brighten up gamers’ breakfasts. Its main attraction was not only in its origin but also in the fact that it was two cereals in one.
The Super Mario Bros. cereal was fruit-flavored, and its pieces were shaped like characters from the game such as Mario, the goombas, the koopas, and Bowser.
The Legend of Zelda’s berry-flavored cereal had pieces of Link, keys, hearts, and shields.
Unfortunately, the cereal only lasted one year in circulation, as it was only part of a campaign to promote NES games. Although it only needed that year to stay in the memory of gamers who yearn for Nintendo to give back their characters to create a new cereal.
Can you imagine a cereal based on God of War?
Nerds Cereal (1985)
Nintendo wasn’t the only one to use a 2-for-1 tactic, as the cereal based on Nerds candy, famous for its multiple flavors contained in one box, also included two bags in one.
With two presentations of orange/cherry and strawberry/grape, Nerds Cereal kept everyone happy, especially those who loved to mix and match flavors.
But the two bags in each box theme went much further when they launched premium boxes, which contained various gifts and, of course, boxes of Nerds candy.
But what was most exciting for kids was that for two proofs of purchase and an extra 50 cents, they could claim a Nerds bowl, which, like the candy, could be divided into two compartments.
Overall, Nerds cereal was one of the most original of the decade, and its proposal is still surprising to this day, although it is very unlikely to return to the markets, at least in the form we knew it, as it broke one or another health rule. Sweet in the end.
Donkey Kong Junior (1983)
Nintendo never tires of appearing on this list, this time with the cereal based on the Donkey Kong Jr. video game, a sequel to the original Donkey Kong from 1981.
Sure enough, this Donkey Kong cereal was red apple-shaped pieces and yellow banana-shaped pieces, loaded with a delicious fruit flavor.
Without a doubt, it brought all the tropical atmosphere of the jungles of Donkey Kong Jr. to your breakfast table.
An entertaining additive was the Pez candy rolls you could find in some boxes, and if you sent in proof of purchase of the cereal along with 75 cents, you could claim a Donkey Kong Jr. themed Pez dispenser.
Let’s also not forget the Ralston All-Stars baseball cards or Donkey Kong Junior activity books found in other boxes. No matter which box you took, you almost always got a prize.
Frosted Mini-Wheats (1969)
At first glance, Frosted Mini-Wheats looks like a much more serious cereal than the competition, and part of that was seen in their commercials, starring real actors. But the magic came when they took a bite of this Kellogg’s cereal, specifically the frosted part, which transformed them into children.
Thus, Kellogg’s spread these sugar-frosted whole wheat biscuits all over the country, attracting the attention of both children and adults. And the truth is that it was a quite different cereal than many of the other brands of the time, as its pieces were much larger than normal and its texture was quite particular.
But these are not a defect at all, on the contrary, these characteristics made the Frosted Mini-Wheats popular, which combined the seriousness of adult life with the sweetness of childhood.
Cocoa Puffs (1956)
Company: General Mills
We have another cereal that had already existed for decades but that in the 80s took an impressive leap in quality, especially for its commercials.
“I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” is the star phrase of Sonny The Cuckoo Bird, its mascot who goes crazy for a bowl of this cereal.
In the commercials, the kids would try to stop him from getting his way, but Sonny always ended up getting his way.
And the truth is, I get it, since it’s impossible not to go crazy over the cereal’s small orbs of corn and rice flavored with cocoa. It turned your bowl of regular milk into a bowl of chocolate milk.
Cocoa Puffs was the first cereal in the country to coat its pieces with real Hershey’s chocolate.
From a galaxy far, far away came this cereal to feed lots of little Padawans and show them a little bit of the power of the Force. You can’t tell I’m a Star Wars fan, can you?
Since in the 1980s, George Lucas’ star franchise was at its peak, it was obvious that a licensed cereal was just around the corner. But out of so many characters in that wonderful universe, who could fit in as the cereal’s main figure?
C-3PO, of course. The golden android who always accompanies the main characters and who we all love despite his nervous breakdowns and the occasional screw-up.
Speaking of the cereal, its honey-sweetened pieces were shaped like small figure-eights, because you know, the cereal of the future comes in that shape to guarantee you an exquisite Double Crunch.
Beyond their incredible taste, C3POs really seemed canon in the Star Wars universe thanks to their commercials starring Anthony Daniels saving the intrepid R2-D2. Just like in the movies!
Honey Smacks (1953)
After going through different names since its creation in the 1950s, this cereal adopted the name Honey Smacks in the 1980s and captivated kids with Dig’em Frog, a cool mascot.
Honey Smacks were sweetened wheat puffs with a honey-coated coating, and that was precisely the reason for their success.
Just as chocolate cereals spread their essence in milk, Honey Smacks impregnated your bowl with delicious honey, and the pieces did not lose their consistency despite being dipped in milk.
Something rather curious about this cereal is how much Dig’em Frog was loved by the audience. That was made quite clear when in the mid-1980s, the toad was replaced by Wally The Bear, an animal more closely related to honey. It was a move that made sense…except the previous mascot was already successful and well-loved.
The commercials for this new character performed so poorly that Dig’em Frog came back to save the day and return Honey Smacks to the position they deserve.
Company: General Mills
Trix cereal has always been with us for a long time, but it was in the 80s that it leaped in popularity thanks to the funny commercials in which the amusing Trix rabbit did the impossible to get a bowl of the cereal, but the children made it impossible for him. This gave rise to the memorable slogan “Silly Rabbit…. Trix are for kids”.
At that time, the pieces were not yet shaped like fruit, a novelty that arrived in the 90s. But its multicolored puffs with grape, lemon, orange, and other fruit flavors were more than enough to delight the palate of thousands of children.
Another factor that played in its favor was that the cereal was made from natural fruits, with no artificial additives. Now I understand why so many parents got into debt with Trix.
E.T. Cereal (1984)
Company: General Mills
If we’re talking about licensed cereals, E.T. cereal takes the top spot. Not only was it promoted as a movie, with special effects included, but it knew how to take advantage of the main elements of the film to bring them to your table, it wasn’t just about putting the character’s face on the box.
For those of you who saw E.T., and there were millions of you, I’m sure you remember that the alien’s favorite snack was Reeces Pieces. So, the cereal pieces were chocolate and peanut butter, and they were all in the shape of E and T.
And of course, if you reached a certain number of proofs of purchase, you could win an exclusive E.T. storybook album.
E.T. has stood the test of time until today, and despite not having sequels or anything like that, it remains an icon of popular culture, and of course, its peanut butter and chocolate cereal is not far behind.
Many long for the return of the cereal that, with a little peanut butter and the magic touch of E.T. made them feel like they were in the space.
Cap’n Crunch (1963)
A thousand years may pass and a thousand new cereals may be created, but Cap’n Crunch will always be remembered as the most popular cereal of the 80s.
It was not created in that decade, nor did it innovate too much in the industry, but it is the most loved by those who grew up back then. They simply could not start their day without a good bowl of Cap’n Crunch.
Living up to its slogan “Love that Crunch,” the original presentation of the cereal consisted of square, yellow, sweetened pieces made from corn and oats. But over time, more variations came along, such as Cap’n Crunch Berry and Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch. No matter which one you choose, you’ll always get that iconic “Crunch” when you take a bite.
The mascot of this cereal, Captain Horatio Magellan Crunch, has remained one of the most popular and best constructed, as his commercials are not just to sell, there is a whole universe behind it full of pirates and treasures (Cap’n Crunch of course).
In short, a completely timeless cereal that many kids and adults have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for generations to come. Ahoy!
The 80s were a golden age for the cereal industry, because not only were many innovative ideas born, but those that already existed made a tremendous leap in quality, especially thanks to new technologies and commercials.
It is no surprise that adults who grew up during the 80s miss their favorite cereals so much, even those that did not make it to the modern day. So if you’re General Mills, Quaker, Kellogg’s, or any company like that and you’re reading this, give us back our favorite cereals!