monster cereal

Welcome Back Boo-Berry!

By Dixielord

BooBerry

Yeah, it's that time of the year when horror fans and cereal fans unite to welcome back the Monster cereals. Many of us grew up with Boo-Berry, Count Chocula, or Franken Berry part of our breakfast ritual. But, wait, maybe some of you reading this have been living under a giant boulder for the last 40 years or so and have never heard of monster cereal. The monster cereals collectively refer to a group of cereals first created way back in 1971 by General Mills. The cereals all had a monster theme featuring a somewhat friendlier version of well known cinematic monsters.

The first two cereals released back in 1971 were Count Chocula and Franken Berry. Count Cholcula featured a chocolate loving vampire named Count Chocula, whose catchphrase was, “I want to eat your cereal”. The cereal was chocolate flavored frosted bites with chocolate flavored marshmallows. The Count was voiced on television commercials by Larry Kenny impersonating Bela Lugosi as Dracula. Kenney is also known for being the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird (He's Cuckoo for Coco Puffs!) and Lion-O from the classic Thundercats cartoon. As a trivia note, Larry is also the father of Kerri Kenney-Silver, who portrayed Deputy Trudy Weigel on Reno 911.

Also debuting in 1971 was Franken Berry, based on the Frankenstein Monster from Universal Pictures. The monster represents a more kid friendly and pink version of Karloff's monster. On commercials, Franken Berry was voiced by Bob McFadden impersonating Boris Karloff. The cereal itself was a strawberry flavored frosted cereal with strawberry flavored marshmallows. McFadden had a long career of voice acting before he sadly passed away on January 7, 2000.

Then, in 1972, the two monsters were joined by Boo-Berry, the friendliest ghost since Casper. Boo-Berry was a blueberry loving ghost who bore a resemblance to horror icon Peter Lorre. Boo-Berry cereal is a blueberry flavored cereal with marshmallows. It is believed to be the first blueberry flavored cereal ever produced. Boo-Berry was voiced in television commercials by Paul Frees. Frees did Boo-Berry's voice in the style of his lookalike Peter Lorre.

Outside of the monster cereal gig, Frees had an interesting career in voice acting. He provided the voice of Boris Badenov in the popular Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. He also provided English dubbing for the legendary Toshiro Mifune in the film Midway. Frees also dubbed Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot (his female voice), and Humphrey Bogart in The Harder They Fall. Bogart was suffering from throat cancer and had to be redubbed to be heard. Off screen, Frees also provided may voices for the attractions as Disney theme parks such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion.

monster cereal

Everyone remembers the original three monsters (well maybe not that guy under the boulder), but not so many remember the fourth monster. “What? There was another monster cereal?” Well yes, actually two more. In 1974, buoyed by the popularity of Boo-Berry, Franken Berry, and Count Cocula, General Mills added Fruit Brute to the pack. Fruit Brute's mascot was a child friendly version of a werewolf. Fruit Brute was a mixture of fruit flavored corn cereal, and lime flavored marshmallows. Yes, lime flavored marshmallows. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Lime belongs in mixed drinks, not kid cereals. Kids may have felt the same way as Fruit Brute was the first of the monster line to be discontinued in 1982. It was briefly reintroduced in 2013 for a Halloween special, but is not available now. Original boxes of Fruit Brute cereal are considered collectibles.

General Mills tried again in 1987, introducing Fruity Yummy Mummy. Yummy Mummy was basically a reintroduction of Fruit Brute cereal with vanilla marshmallows instead of lime and an Egyptian mummy as the mascot. Sadly for fans of the Egyptian undead, Yummy Mummy soon went the way of Fruit Brute and was discontinued in 1992. It, along with Fruit Brute, received a short curtain call in 2013, but, alas, it is no longer available.

Over the years since their introduction, they have faced some controversy but they have survived. It kind of makes sense that parents might complain about a kids cereal based on movie monsters. However, the controversies were stranger than you might imagine. Apparently the original run of Franken Berry had a food coloring that wasn't digestible by the human body. The dye was harmless, but passing though a kid's intestine had the unfortunate side effect of causing the stool to turn bright pink. It looked a little too much like the kids were passing blood for the comfort of parents. The dye was quickly replaced.

To add to the controversy, it's possible this whole event was just an urban legend. The Internet is mixed on whether this really happened or not. It's wide spread enough that Stephen King referenced it in his book Cujo and its movie adaptation. If you remember your parents freaking out, or perhaps a rushed visit to the Emergency Room after a diet of Franken Berry back in the early 70s, please let me know. It would be nice to confirm it.

The Count had a bit of controversy himself. It wasn't, as far as we know stool-related, although there's no proof it doesn't turn your stool brown. Instead, there were concerns about the sugar content of the cereal. Parents, under the misguided belief that health was more important than sugary fun, complained. Thus, Count Chocula was briefly pulled and the caloric content was slightly reduced.

Through all this, Boo-Berry has remained pretty much controversy free. While supposedly eating too much Boo-Berry, or any berry cereal can discolor your poo, it has never caused hysteria. Seeing blue or green in the toilet apparently isn't quite as fright inducing as red or pink.

The three originals - Boo-Berry, Count Chocula, and Franken Berry - are still going strong. They are still produced and sold though only during the Halloween season. They might be a bit harder to find, but they are available. The boxes have been redesigned with new artwork, but the three monsters are still out there haunting our breakfasts.

So go out while the season is right, and grab yourself a box or a dozen. Whatever your favorite, Boo-Berry, Count Chocula, or Franken Berry, they are available now. Enjoy the hell out of them because once Halloween is gone, so are the monster cereals. And while we enjoy our monster cereal and the Halloween season, let's all have a moment of silence for those monsters no longer with us. Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy, you are gone but not forgotten. Okay, maybe outside of us horror nerds, you are forgotten, but hopefully you will make another Halloween appearance in the future.

Lastly, I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Stevie, who is no longer with us but truly will never be forgotten, and he loved his monster cereal. RIP my friend.

Posted by Allen Alberson

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