My mentioning monster cereals and Count Chocula over at AMC* (me me me! pay attention to me!) prompted a bit of a conversation with a MySpace (me me me! add me!) fake cyber-friend about the monster cereal mascots. He asked who I thought Boo Berry was before he died, which got me thinking...who created Frankenberry, and to what end? Who bit Count Chocula and Fruit Brute and turned them into monsters? Who was Fruity Yummy Mummy before he died and who mummified him? Were they all cereal fanatics before they turned and/or shuffled off this mortal coil? They're all just sad, lost souls, really, but that never seems to get them down. I'm totally going to remember that the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself because I hate all of my clothes.
I feel a bit like a hack stand-up comedian saying it ("Remember having toys? What was up with that?"), but come on...how fucking awesome were the monster cereals? They combine three of the greatest things in the world (monsters, sugar, and the 1970s), they leave you with flavored milk when you're done, and even if they made you poop red**, the monster cereals were completely essential breakfast time chow. Aaannnnnd they had the coolest toy prizes inside.
Would I like a free monster disguise kit? Umm...holy crap, YES. I don't know that giving yourself a fang moustache is going to fool anyone into thinking that you're actually a vampire, but it's worth a shot. Undoubtedly, the chances of successful deception would rise exponentially if the fang moustache were coupled with the glow-in-the-dark vampire t-shirt, don't you think?
I was always most partial to Boo Berry, that strange poltergeist who sounded an awful lot like Peter Lorre. Again, who was he before he died? My fake MySpace friend posited that he was a car salesman. The hat and tie really speak volumes, and I'm inclined to agree he was indeed a seller of something or other. He cuts quite a Willy Loman-esque figure, doesn't he? Looking at him with the eyes of an adult (as opposed to those of a kid all cracked out on sugar), it seems obvious to me that Mr Berry was simply overwhelmed by life: he was depressed, tired, done with it all, and most likely addicted to quaaludes.
In later years (the monster cereals all debuted in the early 1970s), parent company General Mills tried to revamp Boo Berry's sad sack image with disastrous results. The late '80s/early '90s incarnation, with the ridiculous Freddy Krueger-esque arms and decidedly "doy doy" expression, left Mr Berry looking a little...well, shall we say a little simple-minded?
And, quite frankly, the less said about the subsequent Casperization of Boo Berry, the better***.
Thankfully this wussy version of Boo Berry didn't last and General Mills issued an order to his troops to return the ghost to his former luuded-out glory, and once again he gazes at us from the box with that classic vacant stare we all love and remember so well.
Frankenberry, that monstrous creation (no, really, which mad scientist wanted to play Notorious G.O.D. and created Frankenberry? And why for the love of Charles Nelson Reilly give him strawberries for fingernails?), was my second love despite his foppish voice. Count Chocula, though undoubtedly the scariest-looking cereal mascot, never did it for me, pitch-perfect Transylvanian accent or no.
My memories of Fruit Brute are vague at best: the cereal was discontinued in 1983, only to be resurrected (HA HA HA) a few years later with the name Fruity Yummy Mummy.
Look at the Fruit Brute box: a coupon for 7 lousy cents off Lucky Charms! Why, 7 cents wouldn't buy you a single yellow moon with today's prices, never mind a blue diamond. Back in my day...gripe gripe gripe my back hurts and why is it so cold in here?
By the late '80s I think the monster cereal craze was pretty much over. F.Y. Mummy was pushing up daisies again by the early '90s, and today it's getting more and more difficult to find the remaining monster mascot triumvirate in stores. Just as TV stations trot out scary movies during October, though, Boo Berry, Frankenberry, and Count Chocula are easier to find come Halloween time.
What gives? Why are the monster cereals, in all their awesomeness, so scarce? Has it been decided that downing a giant heaping bowl of sugar and marshmallows maybe isn't the best way to start the day? I certainly hope the scarcity of monsters in the morning isn't because kids like monsters any less than they did back in my day. I'd like to think that the children are our future, not that they're a bunch of jerks.
* I would just like to point out that even though I said "...except Count Chocula" in the interview, I have nothing against the Count personally. He's rad. I'm simply not a fan of chocolate cereals: I have never, in fact, gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, Fruity trumps Cocoa in the Pebbles department, and Cap'n Crunch can take his Chocoberries or whatever they're called and shove 'em right back where they came from. Regular Crunchberries and the Cap'n's Peanut Butter varieties are, however, the shit.
** Yes, the dye originally used in Frankenberry made kids poop red. You didn't think Stephen King came up with that idea on his own, did you?
*** Everyone knows that Casper is better when Casper is a scary ghost, anyway. Friendly, shmendly.
In totally unrelated I'm feeling all nostalgic now and so I'm looking up stupid shit I remember on YouTube news, you don't even know how much I loved this song when I was a kid. Seriously, if it had ever come out on vinyl, I would have bought 9248675 copies and made it number one with 10 bullets.