Friday, April 25, 2014

Sugar Fueled Memories - Big Bro, Breakfast, and There's a Submarine in the Bathroom Sink!

Big Bro and I were raised in the Hostess Generation. My favorite Western RanchHands were Twinkie the Kid and the Hostess Cupcake. We drank Koolaid (Soda Pop was an expense that was only the rarest of treats in my house), or better yet, cold water from the garden hose. We watched TV when we could, but mostly we ran, we jumped, we covered miles of ground on our bikes. TV was a treat, not a weekend-long marathon and the backyard was our empire, one of constant motion. None of us had an ounce of spare flesh on us, we were lean and healthy from all the outdoor playtime.

And our cereal came with prizes in the box.

When did the cereal prizes disappear? I'm sure, as most children did, I drove my Mom crazy begging for one type of cereal over another, depending on what toy was inside. The toy would be buried deep down, and we'd have to eat about half the box to get to it. Of course there were those times Mom left us alone briefly while Dad watched football, and with the help of a large mixing bowl, the toy was liberated soon after purchase, the bowl then cleaned (here boy!) and put back in the cupboard. But that didn't happen often so normally the prize would plop down into our bowl about half way through the box. What a treat that was!

Most of the toys plastic figures were slightly larger than Monopoly counters – animals, trains, cars. Sometimes there were decoder rings, badges and other trinkets promoting TV adventure shows. Sometimes the prize was a cut out on the back of the box that could be made into a toy, there were even cut out photograph records on the back.

One of the cereal toys I've never forgotten was a plastic submarine. On its bottom was a tiny container into which you placed baking powder.  The sub would then dive underwater and resurface on its own, again and again. I loved that toy and spent a lot of time with it in the bathroom sink and in the bathtub.

Big Bro spent his years after school on a real submarine, so perhaps all that play with those things had some effect.
The non sweetened cereal usually didn't have a prize, but it would have a coupon where you could collect box tops and send away for a prize. The sugar laden cereals usually had the prize right there. The prize might sway our decision but our favorites remained unchanged. Were they healthy? Not particularly. You'd have to add an orange grove and an entire pig to be a "complete breakfast", but that's not why we ate them.

Sugar Pops - My personal favorite. The original cereal was just Sugar Pops. Then they added the word corn, then they dropped the word sugar, then they dropped the corn thinking kids didn't want to eat a bowl of corn, now they're just Pops. That was one thing I liked about that generation. They weren't afraid to use the word sugar. They were PROUD of the word. Then they filled everything full of corn syrup which is worse for you and simply changed the names. Not only was the cereal great tasting (I still eat it before big presentations at Secret Squirrel headquarters), but the concept was cool. Blasting sugar onto the cereal with a gun? How cool was that? The earlier boxes that my oldest brother remembers even had special offers for a "Colt six shooter".

Sugar Crisp -The sugar bear started out as your average bear, then later got fashion sense (though no pants) and this laid back groovy persona. The Sugar Bear was the cool dude your retired military Dad NEVER wanted you to date (attitude and no pants, never a selling point with my Dad). He was so popular some kids went as Sugar Bear on Halloween. Or maybe that was a real bear in our garbage can that night.

In the 70's they came out with a Super Sugar Orange Crisp that had little sour orange bits in it. The sweet and sour was enough to keep you bouncing off of walls for days. It didn't last long, probably banned by the PTA.

Alpha-Bits - like Cocoa Puffs, as a kid I was on the fence about these. They were OK, , but as an adult I thought they tasted like hamster food. It was fun to try and spell words in your spoon though, except for that time I tried out a NEW word which I heard my Dad use when he dropped a tool on his foot, which my Mother did NOT find amusing.

Sugar Smacks - Start your day the Sugar Smacks way. Dig em the frog was OK, but not as cool as the bear. However even Spock could have figured out they were the exact same cereal as Sugar Crisp.

Frosted Flakes - one of the few breakfast cereal that hasn't changed, been improved or altered (I cringe when I think what they've done to Trix over the years). I used to eat it dry, in a little bowl with my fingers, watching Scooby Doo (those meddling kids!) because it it lasted about 10 seconds in milk before going limp.

Froot Loops - not sure where Toucan Sam got the English Accent in the 1970's but it was a house favorite. The only colors were a tropical fruit sort of red color, yellow and orange. What more do you need. I got sample box in the mail recently to which several new colors were added (is that blue?) PLUS fiber.

What's next? "Honeycomb. Improved, now with Ginkgo Biloba?"

There are a lot of things that aren't good for us. Letting your kids eat junk food in adult portions all day long is good for no one. But what about a little bowl of sweet, the occasional cookie with the hug and fun with our imaginations and the help of a "beam up badge"? Did it really do us any harm?
So I'm going to start my day  some weekend soon with a big bowl of Quisp cereal.

You remember Quisp?

The voice of Quisp on the commercials was Daws Butler, the voice of Yogi Bear, Quick Draw McGraw, Snagglepuss and Huckleberry Hound. It tastes like Captain Crunch but doesn't remove the roof of your mouth when you eat it. The slogan I remember as a kid in 1970. . . "it gives you Quazy energy".

Look, I try and eat healthy most of the time. But I refuse to grow up, and I'm going to enjoy my sugar laden dreams via a bowl of cereal from the 60's.

Even if I didn't get an AR15 in the box.


  1. I never was a big cereal fan, although my brother would get at least two servings out of one serving of milk.

    I think his favorite was Rice Krispies. He could consume at least a half of a box in one sitting.

    Your post brought back memories of my youth and my brothers.

    We'd awake on a summer morning; quick to rise and don our usual attire, which was a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.

    After breakfast, we'd venture out into the world, armed with initiative and endless energy.

    When the day ended, it was usually dark and we'd return into our house; adorned with sweat beads; burnt by the sun and full of memories, such as collecting Coke bottles, buying a cheap slingshot and spending the long afternoon in search of cicadas.

    Thanks. Two are gone and memories are all I have. At this time, it's enough.

  2. Lots of memories there, I remember having all of those cereals at one time or another. Cereal and Saturday morning cartoons, loved them all

  3. Oh wow, Brigid, you take me way back!

    Guilty as charged....I was a toy-hunter too. And I sure remember the cardboard cutout records on cereal boxes!

  4. I'm a bit older than ou so you may not know that man on the sugar pops box was Guy Madison who played Wld Bill Hickok on the tv show of the same name (sponsored by Sugar Pops). His sidekick Jingles was played by Andy Devine. None of my friends remember Andy, sad. I had those divers and would pack baking soda in their bulbous leg per instructions. Good memories, thank you.

  5. Aha.... now I knows why u so sweet..... hehe

  6. I think my mom was ahead of her time because she rarely let cold cereal in the house. If we wanted that we had to go to Grandma's house! Kool Aid was there too. It was the icing on the cake of visiting the grandparents!

  7. So many things that our kids will never know ... sad, that.

    Thanks for the memories, though. Amazing we survived all those "bad for you" things, isn't it?

  8. At 40 something something years old there is still a box of Fruity Pebbles on top of my fridge.

    Ya gotta eat those as fast as Frosted Flakes for the same reasons.

  9. I can't believe you didn't mention Lucky Charms. If you were like us as kids, you carefully picked out the marshmallows - - and originally, the ratio of marshmallows to inedible brown oat cereal was around 1:20 - - nowadays it's more like 1:10, or even 1:8. And the number of marshmallow shapes and colors has exploded.

    One of my all-time favorites was Life, which was supposed to be one of the healthy alternatives to the usual Froot Loops or Trix due to its fiber content, which, when you ate a bunch of it right out of the box, brought your colon to life trying to expel all of that indigestible fiber. A couple of bowls was usually good for a half-dozen trips to the bathroom.

    A similar cereal to Life was Quaker's Corn Bran, which was made mainly of the bran of corn, rather than the grain, it was brown, square and puffed, and not overly sweet. Like Life, it was good for the digestion. Corn Bran had identity issues, also, changing names several times during its various incarnations (it's gone again from most grocer's shelves). It also had a scarecrow mascot for a while, which didn't cause the kiddies to flock to it. Needed marshmallows, I expect.

  10. Great Memories, I loved those plastic submarines :)

    Never cared for Sugar Smacks/Crisp but I loved Quisp....I liked Quake too but not many people remember Quisps Nemesis Cereal :)

  11. I just pictured you at the convention after a couple bowls of "Super Sugar Smack".


    Thanks for that.

  12. I ordered many a piece of plastic crap using cereal box tops in the 50's and 60's.
    I remember a sub that spring-launched torpedoes at a jenga-style plastic battleship. Blew it to smithereens!
    Got a black plastics SAA, too!

    Times have changed.


  13. I so remember those cereal boxes and toys! They were so much fun. :)

    I couldn't take the kids to the grocery without them searching the aisle (much shorter than modern day cereal aisles) for the "free inside" cereal that had exactly what they wanted - the toy, not the cereal. :)

  14. I don't recall seeing 'Quisp' before. My favorites as a kid were Cap'n Crunch and Count Chocula. :9

  15. The Internet Archive has at least one commercial for Quisp. If that link isn't safe, God help us all.

    Kinda ironic that Jay Ward produced those commercials for Quaker. The competition, General Mills, maker of Trix among other cereals, sponsored Rocky & Bullwinkle. I'm not sure if the time periods overlapped.

    If you want to see something simultaneously frightening and cool, go find the old Flintstones commercials for Winston on YouTube. I'll wait.


    And I'll bet you thought that Fred and Barney shilled cereals too. :)

  16. I remember Quisp and Sugar adjective named cereal too well. Certainly a simpler time. I think I remember the submarine toy too. Judging by all the vertical apparatus on the sail, that one is a diesel boat which is what my dad served on. You can't sandblast the submariner out of those guys. I have fond memories being hauled to sub vets conventions around the country and listening to their stories.

  17. Jess - that sounds like my summers. So much fun with Big Br

    Chip - We got little TV but for Saturday. I think we benefitted from that.

    Monkeywrangler - will be headed home in the morning. Will give you a holler when I get in

    IslandBob - did not know that. Thanks!

    johnbord - you can't live on Bran Buds alone.

    Sarah - Koolaid was another fav. Grape and Orange were my regular flavor, though Bro preferred Cherry.

    Rev Paul - thanks for the personnel note. We'll catch up when I get back home. And feel free to send on that book to me, I appreciated the gesture, if you can pass it on.

    Jay Ater - I've made "Rice Crispy Treats" out of the Pepples Cereals before. Pretty tasty.

    Bob - you are so right, and that's one we ate a lot of.

    immagikman - it's not a strong memory but I remember Quake as well.

    MSgtB - redheads sugared up, there's often mayhem involved.

    armedlaughing - I bet you got the coolest ones in the 50's, but the mid/late 60's were also pretty neat.

    Lois - the people marketing them knew that SO well.

    Stormdrane - Quisp is still around in specialty markets, I think the yuppie grocers in Broad Ripple carries it. If you want a box, drop me a "DO NOT POST" comment with your address, and I'll pick you up a box in a couple weeks when I'm back there

    Roscoe - that's pretty neat. . and thanks for the highlight of a somber day.

    The Farmer - quite a few of the boys from Electric boat came to Big Bro's service, all submariners. A better bunch of guys you will not meet.

    Everyone - I had no computer access as Dad had MANY things that needed handling as did Big Bro's kids (estate and medical bills and such) so I was going full tilt for a while and no time to go to a coffee shop and log on, they were more important.

    I'll be home soon A recipe post will come up, and I'll slowly get back into things. Honestly, even though I knew this was going to happen, it hit really, really hard.

  18. @Island Bob -
    I remember Andy Devine!
    He hailed from Kingman AZ, in fact the main drag up there is Andy Devine BLVD!


  19. Thanks for the update, we've been reading and waiting - and know how all that goes when it comes to the avalanche of details afterwards.

    You may have had advance indications but that just gives you a chance to say all you want to while you can; it's not going to lessen the hurt one bit. That part is certain.

    Hope your trip home is safe.

  20. I'm sorry for your loss.

    My sister died at 37 right after Thanksgiving in 2012. Our family isn't close, but the passing did make me stop and think about my own mortality.

  21. I remember saving boxtops to be able to get Kellogg's harmonica-shaped-like-corn-on-the-cob!
    Funny thing though, I don't remember ever getting it.

    On the plus side- we still have Quisp cereal in my area of Ohio!

  22. I made chocolate milk using Nestle Quik, then poured it in my Cocoa Krispies! My Mother thought I was nuts (still does).

    I also remember Pop-Tarts before they were frosted, and had the dental floss pull to open the package.

  23. Then there were Coco Puffs, and Puffa-Puffa Rice, which was puffed rice and the same sort of sugar glaze as on the Sugar Smacks.
    I was of the age where Quickdraw McGraw was shilling the Sugar Pops.
    Someplace in my mom's garage is a set of two inch plastic figures out of a cereal box that were armorers for an Airplane. (I can't recall if we were supposed to save box tops and send for the plane or not, but the figures came with the cereal so we got them at least).


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