Whatever Happened to Toys in Cereal?

It’s been a long time since breakfast was exciting. Nothing quite compares to the sweet smelling assortments of delicious cereals I was presented with as a child.

Frosties, Coco Pops, Cornflakes, not to mention Lucky Charms still hung out in the UK back then. It’s impossible to forget those sugary, pastel shapes that melted in your mouth like a fallen rainbow on Miami Beach.


Surprisingly, pouring a bowl of rainbow coloured magic wasn’t the first thing on my little mind. Once they were in my belly, I no longer cared about the way they tasted or how the shapes dissolved into pretty milk swirls. A new box of cereal always held the promise of a new toy and until the toy had plonked into MY bowl, the game face was on.

I wasn’t the only child that went weak at the knees for a cereal box prize. They've been going strong for well over a century.

The first ever prize, or “premium” as eBay obsessos like to call them, bounced onto the scene in 1909. “The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book” served its purpose as a breakfast time brightener for twenty-three years, thanks to the clever clogs over at Kellogg’s.

After the flirty thirties, toys just got bigger and better. We’re talking comic strips, paratrooper soldiers, plastic roosters and mini beanie babies. Whether it was on your box, in your box or stuck to the palm of your hand, you had to have it. If it involved a send away coupon, your mum better believe she doesn't have better things to do, lest she get the silent treatment.

For as long as you were a little sister, you had the chance of your older brother stomping on your cereal toy pride. From shelf to bowl, you had to stalk that prize out like Scooby-Doo to bag what was rightfully yours. You would have gotten away with it too, if it wasn't for that pesky sibling of yours

That was, until Daphne married Fred, Velma went to university and the big baddies banned toys in cereal boxes all together.

Now you’re older, smarter and able to reach the confiscated toys from the top of the fridge, you want answers.

Yep, you’ve guessed it: health and safety. You’d be lucky to climb halfway up that fridge without the guys with clipboards bustling in to pee all over your proverbial party. 

Choking on Corn Pops, dismembered car wheels, Mercury leaking out of Spiderman watches? There’s no end to the barrage of complaints lurking on those clipboards and contaminating our childhood fun.

There are no deaths on record though, not to mention consuming glow in the dark chemicals can only turn us into babe catching superheroes.

Well, at least we can get our Disney fix from a humble Happy Meal. We figure if whatever they pass off for chicken nuggets is still legal, our toys are safe, at least for now.

Words: Leonie Ann Garlick