Cereal is an important part of childhood. Together with certain television shows, music, and movies, cereal helps to form a very specific backdrop to your formative years. This backdrop is unique to you, but connects you to nearly every other person of your generation, no matter the other details of your lives. Yes, cereal binds us, connects us, shows us that we are all one. But it also has an almost magical ability to transport. When you’re eating cereal with your favorite characters on the box, you hold palaver with them for a time. These characters become real as you share a meal with them. Some cereals not only understood the light-hearted whimsy of our youth, but also understand that now we have grown-up responsibilities and obligations. We’ve seen things, man. We have bills to pay. We wear underwear without cartoons characters on them sometimes, probably. These cereals know that and have increased in value accordingly, so that they can continue to be there for us as we sell them for money. Our modern Giving Tree was ground up and pressed into cardboard to make cereal boxes. And the tree was happy. It was happy because it knew that cash rules everything around us and it’s going to help us get the money. Dolla, dolla bill, y’all!
Every morning when you woke up, while your parents were still in bed with a kind of lethargy you can only now truly appreciate, you would help yourself to a big bowl of some combination of fruity, sugary, marshmallowy, chocolatey, peanut buttery (possibly branny, fibery, if you’re here more for our Matlock and Murder, She Wrote articles) goodness. Once the milk was poured, you were off! It was a race against the clock to eat your cereal before it was overtaken with sogginess. Cereal has everything, action, adventure; it’s the perfect pairing for Saturday morning cartoons. Is there anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good bowl of cereal (except for Ryan Gosling, of course)?
This is a look at twenty of our favorite childhood cereals that can now be turned for a profit, sometimes just for the box. While some are worth only a few times their original value, others are worth considerably more.
20. Hulk – $5.00 (ebay)
Arguably, the best thing to come from Ang Lee’s 2003 film Hulk was this cereal. Similar in taste to Lucky Charms, Hulk cereal replaced the hearts, stars, horseshoes, and so forth with laboratory beaker, a brick, explosion, and Hulk shaped marshmallows. It was like a lab explosion in your mouth, which is an experience most of us tragically never get to have unless you’re one of the lucky few who happens to be a scientist or live in one of the methier states. In all seriousness though, for such an extremely over-processed food product to be described as a lab explosion is probably some of the most honest advertising you’ll ever see. It goes for about five dollars a box now, so you won’t turn a huge profit on your investment, but you’ll still probably do better than Ang Lee’s 2003 film Hulk.
19. Homer’s Cinnamon Donut Cereal – $14.00 (ebay)
It should really come as no surprise that The Simpsons had its own cereal; pretty much every product has at one time or another partnered up with The Simpsons, even Playboy, which showed a side of Marge Simpson that only a few people had the foresight to know they wanted to see. Despite the beautiful tear in Homer’s eye, this cereal wasn’t a hit with consumers, with the heavy cinnamon leading some to describe the cereal as “furry.” This cereal won’t make you rich, but fourteen dollars a box is what, at least a 200% profit? Not bad.
18. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Cereal – $15.00 (ebay)
Are there any better representatives of the early 90s than Bill and Ted? Probably not. This most excellent cereal will make you wish you could go back to a simpler time, a time before Keanu knew kung fu, a time when we still had the brilliance of George Carlin, a time when you could apparently win a real phone booth off of a cereal box. What the heck is a kid going to do with a real phone booth? Here, watch this commercial:
17. WWF Superstars – $15.00 (ebay)
There are many different versions of this cereal with many different wrestlers on the front. The one that seemed to go for the most money was this one showcasing Legion of Doom and coming with a Hulk Hogan flipbook, which just shows an animated version of the Hulkster spewing racial epithets. Actually, racial epithets would be in line with the values of the maker of this cereal, Ralston, which is a company that made many of the cereals on this list and is named after a weird, early 1900s social movement. See? Revisiting your favorite breakfast cereals from the past can be disturbingly educational as well as fun!
16. Prince of Thieves – $15.00 (ebay)
Quick! What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Kevin Costner/Alan Rickman movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? If you said a vaguely phallic children’s cereal, then you have a weird mind and apparently would have killed it as an advertising exec at Ralston in the early 90s. This cereal also boasts a “free target game” on the back, which one can only assume is just a picture of a target that children are supposed to shoot with an arrow. Aaaaaaand right about now you should be singing Bryan Adams’ (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.
15. Bart Simpson – $23.50 (ebay)
Here we go! Now we’re getting into some of the higher dollar collectible stuff. $23.50 for a box of cereal? Yee-ouch! That’s just the tip of the collectible cereal iceberg, though. You didn’t think Bart was going to let his buffoon of a father upstage him, did you? This knockoff of Reese’s Puff didn’t knock consumers’ socks off, but Bart’s cereal double fisting should push the nostalgia button for many children of the 90s. By the way, there’s a phone call for Myra… Myra Umpsonfire…
14. Spider-Man – $25.00 (ebay)
While Spider-Man 2 is arguably the best Spider-Man movie (at least until next year), people didn’t really leave the theater wishing they knew what it tasted like. In fact, with a description reading “spidey-berry fruit flavoured,” this Spider-Man cereal may have the distinction of being the only food product boasting that it tastes at least somewhat of spiders. And now these are $25.00 flavored spider bits, as well. Most people eat that for free in their sleep sometimes, allegedly.
13. Nickelodeon Green Slime – $27.00 (ebay)
Sharing an origin story with Alanis Morissette, Nickelodeon’s prolific green slime entered the cultural landscape through a great little show called You Can’t Do That On Television.
From this modest beginning, green slime was incorporated into Nickelodeon’s entire aesthetic, from logos to programming blocks. While it may not seem like something you’d want to taste, kids have a bolder palate when it comes to gross stuff. And there was already a precedent for slime-themed snacks after the success of Ghostbusters. Nowadays, a box of this slimy gem can cost nearly thirty bucks!
12. Wheaties – Eiji Oue Edition – $40.00 (ebay)
Michael Jordan. Muhammad Ali. Tiger Woods. Eiji Oue. What do these men all have in common? They have all appeared on a Wheaties box. That’s about it. Three of these men are world-renowned athletes who dominated their particular sport, the other was the Music Director for the Minnesota Orchestra. Why is a music conductor on the front of a Wheaties box? How did he come to share this honor with some of the best athletes the world has ever seen? Just where did he come from? Why is this box worth forty dollars? Some questions aren’t meant to be answered by mere mortals.
11. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – $49.94 (ebay)
Now for the only entry on this list with a palindromic price tag, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal. With “ninja nets” that look suspiciously like regular old Chex, this cereal was surely a hit with kids when it debuted. The marshmallows are shaped like turtles and well-intentioned approximations of their weapons. Apparently, pizza shaped marshmallows were added later on. The best thing about this cereal, as the box itself proudly points out, is that there are “no tropical oils” involved. Nothing will ruin a breakfast faster than some tropical oils.
10. Batman – $59.49 (Amazon)
Here’s another tropical oil free offer (Ralston really hates tropical oils). This cereal was made to tie-in to one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, Tim Burton’s Batman. Aside from Superman, Batman was really the first big screen representation of a superhero to take itself somewhat seriously rather than just throw some camp on a screen to give children something to do. Unlike Superman, Batman had a much darker feel to it and really started the modern era of superhero movies off on the right foot… just like this cereal will start your day off on the right foot!
9. G.I. Joe Action Stars – $59.99 (ebay)
G.I. Joe enabled children to live out their fantasies of being in the military, without actually being in harm’s way, much like most modern presidential candidates. With this cereal, you too can live out your fantasies. Imagine yourself on a beautiful deserted island with only Shipwreck to keep you company. With the warm sun beating down on your skin, you need help reaching that area between your shoulder blades. Shipwreck takes off his shirt, revealing his rippling muscles and bulging biceps. He reaches for the tropical oils…
8. E.T. Cereal – $69.99 (ebay)
This brilliant cereal was shaped to look like little Es and Ts, because, y’know, E.T., and it was chocolate and peanut butter flavored, which everyone knows is E.T.’s favorite. This cereal was so awesome, they even had to put Michael Jackson on the box, as was customary for anything exceeding a certain awesomeness threshold in the 80s. If you want a true taste of the 80s, this cereal is the only way to go.
7. Pac-Man – $73.93 (ebay)
Think about how awesome video games are right now. Now imagine that they had just been invented for the very first time. You had never even heard of a video game up until a few weeks ago and now they’re popping up everywhere. This was the climate for kids in the early 80s. Now that you’re flabbergasted by these new things called video games, they could slap their image on anything and you’d want it, right? Exactly! And that’s where things like Pac-Man cereal comes from. This cereal even comes with a little gender equality as it includes Ms. Pac-Man marshmallows, which were “shocking pink & white” (the colors pink and white were only discovered around the same time as video games). Although, the fact that Pac-Man is juggling Ms. Pac-Man and appears ready to devour her is a tad unnerving. Cannibalism is always unsettling.
6. Ghostbusters – $100.00 (ebay)
Sticking with the theme of catching ghosts, here’s another 80s staple, Ghostbusters cereal. “Crunch bustin’ fruit flavor with marshmallow ghosts” sounds delicious, but you’d think they might shy away from marshmallows after the whole Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man debacle. This cereal was apparently packaged as four different Ghostbusters cereals at different times, including with the release of Ghostbusters II; maybe with the Ghostbusters reboot on the horizon, this cereal can go for round five!
5. Gremlins – $135.00 (ebay)
Gremlins took the world by storm back in 1984, and what better way to celebrate something than to eat puffed grain versions of it? Gremlins cereal allowed children the opportunity to turn the tables and show the Gremlins how it feels to be devoured. Although, a proper Gremlins cereal really should spawn more cereal pieces when you pour milk on it and get it wet.
4. C-3PO’s – $225.00 (ebay)
Tired of the mundane routine that is breakfast? Then your favorite protocol droid has the cure for what ails you! Apparently, it’s cereal that is basically just a couple Cheerios fused together. While a box with a Darth Vader mask can go for over $200, other characters may not be worth as much. For instance, a Stormtooper mask goes for $52. Stupid Stormtroopers. For the commercial, they actually got Anthony Daniels to reprise his role as C-3PO. It’s pretty enjoyable:
Did you notice that little bit near the end where that big furry alien is cozying up to 3PO? While the question of “How?” is left unanswered, it’s clear that 3PO is about to engage in some inter-sentience-modality nookie.
3. 1960s Cap’n Crunch sample – $1,750 (ebay)
Before he had the chocolate, before he had the peanut butter, before he had the berries, Cap’n Crunch was just a plucky American with a dream and a knack for making perfectly crunchy breakfast cereal. A true tale of American success, the Cap’n pulled himself up by his bootstraps from a cartoon Navy Cap’n with nothing to his name to a household name upon launching a breakfast armada! It’s little wonder then that a small sample box of his early ventures should be worth so much. Every morning, the country still crunches to the success of the Cap’n, even though it’s been years since he laid on his deathbed whispering, “Rosebud… Rosebud…”
2. Baron Von Redberry & Sir Grapefellow – $4,000.00 (ebay)
Sure, this is two cereals, but that’s still $2000 apiece! World War fighter pilots Sir Grapefellow and Baron Von Redberry were released concurrently and pitted against each other in a good-natured rivalry to promote their own cereal as the best. What better way to get kids excited about eating breakfast than through the horrors and atrocities of war! General Mills is planning to update this much loved cereal with a robotic American Air Force character named Colonel Droneberry.
1. Mr. T – priceless? (nowhere)
An exhaustive search to purchase Mr. T cereal online turns up nothing. With demand so high and supply at seemingly zero, it’s only fair to assume that this cereal is priceless. If that sound logic doesn’t convince you of the pricelessness of this perfect cereal, then this video should do the trick:
The best thing about that commercial is that the music composer seemed to have only had about ten minutes notice that he had to write, perform, and turn in a cereal commercial jingle. About fifteen years ago, Mr. T was signing autographs and taking pictures with adoring fans at a Blockbuster in the college town of Bloomington, Indiana (for those of you born after the turn of the century, Blockbusters were kind of like Redboxes before someone figured out how to turn an entire store into a little mechanized box). Attending that event were two high school boys equipped with a Sony Handycam (one of those boys went on to become a writer for NerdBastards.com and write this very article). Mr. T was in the zone, somehow giving everyone all of his attention all at once. It was obvious that this man was a true entertainer.
As Mr. T worked the crowd, sweating profusely, snapping pictures, signing autographs, those two boys questioned him in an impromptu interview. They asked him the obvious questions: “What does the T stand for?” and “Would you ever consider punching Frank Stallone?” Mr. T graciously answered every question while still taking care of the line of people wrapped around the video rental store. There was one question, though, that demonstrated how perfectly in control of the situation Mr. T was. The boys asked him, “Mr. T! Whatever happened to your cereal?” Without missing a beat, Mr. T took a moment to look directly at them and say, “It was so good, everybody ate it all up!” Indeed they did, Mr. T. Indeed, they did.