Very serious about cereal

October 10, 1998|By The Boston Globe

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- You might say that Scott Bruce is up to his old Trix.

For a decade, he has dedicated his professional life to vintage cereal boxes and prizes -- "cerealectibles." He has amassed a world-class collection, and talks eagerly of plans for a cereal hall of fame in Orlando or Las Vegas. And he's just published "Cereal Boxes & Prizes: 1960s," the second decade-by-decade tribute to the genre.

The 43-year-old one-time sculptor is quite serious about Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops, about Tony the Tiger and Toucan Sam. He points out that such goods are "universal commodities that found their way to every breakfast table in America." He expounds on the importance of character-driven merchandising, "whether it's Dwight D. Eisenhower on a Corn Flakes box in 1952 or Tiger Woods on a Wheaties Box in 1998."

When Bruce talks '60s, he means such marketing successes as Cap'n Crunch and Cocoa Krispies, or such failures as Twinkles and Wackies. "It was an important decade because it represented childhood for a lot of baby boomers," he says. "But it was also an explosive time for cereal brands and characters."

Here are a few grrrrrrrrrrreat tidbits from his new book:

Hottest cereal box: Nabisco Rice Honeys and Wheat Honeys featuring the Beatles (1969). "Great crossover appeal." Worth as much as $1,000.

Most creative cereal boxes: Quaker Quisp and Quaker Quake (1965), designed by Jay Ward and Bill Scott, who also collaborated on the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV show, "Rocky and His Friends." "They were first-rate satirists."

Most successful cereals: Quaker Cap'n Crunch and Kellogg's Froot Loops (both 1963). "It was a good year, I guess."

Biggest bomb: General Mills Clackers (1969). "Doughnut-shaped graham crackers that cut up kids' mouths like glass."

Worst-tasting cereal: Kellogg's Corn Flakes With Instant Bananas (1965). "Freeze-dried bananas which melted down to disgusting mush when milk was added."

Pub Date: 10/10/98

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