The worst mascots of all time
One of the best parts about eating breakfast as a kid was staring at the cereal box—there were games on the back and a kooky character on the front. Both enticing children to annoy their parents for more of the sweet candy garbage for breakfast. But oftentimes when you stare into the abyss of a cereal mascot’s dead eyes, something evil, dumb or downright confusing stares right back.
To identify the worst cereal mascots of all time, we must first identify the best. The best cereal icons are inviting, playful, comforting and fun. Snap, Crackle and Pop from Rice Krispies immediately come to mind. Named after the sound the cereal makes, these three elfin cereal proprietors turn an otherwise bland cereal into a treat. Tony the Tiger also comes to mind—he’s…great. Then there’s Buzz from Honey Nut Cheerios, who is nothing like his horrifying real-world counterpart, an actual bee.
Those mascots, and the rest of the good ones, all share those important traits of inviting playfulness. However, cereal killers possess decidedly darker qualities. Take the Trix Rabbit for example. Sure, on the outside he is merely an excitable rabbit who really loves Trix, who, try as he might, just cannot steal a quiet moment to enjoy his cereal without a horde of insufferable children disrupting his breakfast. But if you dig deeper below the surface, what you discover is the Trix Rabbit’s insatiable craving is akin to a drug addict’s need for his fix. And those children? They are most likely a hallucination—the bugs crawling on Trix’s skin—and the manifestation of the drug-addled rabbit’s shame over his dependence.
Beyond deep character dissections, mascots can also be terrible for their appearance alone. During the gnarly 1990s, Honeycomb cereal debuted a wily mascot named Crazy Craving. Meant to capitalize on the radical trends of that decade, Crazy Craving darted around commercials spouting the “Me want Honeycomb” catchphrase while any unfortunate child near him morphed into a terrifying humanoid monster. The character, which was meant to be “totally extreme,” ended up a headache-inducing annoyance and truthfully, looked like an anthropomorphized merkin—not something you want near your children or your breakfast cereal.
Perhaps the most egregious mascots of all time are those that were either animated humans or real humans. Back in the 1980s, Cinnamon Toast Crunch touted three animated men as the icons that would sell cereal to youngsters. The “bakers,” as they came to known as, would saunter into commercials singing and pirouetting around the kitchen, Then, one day, two of the bakers disappeared, leaving the leader, Chef Wendell, as the lone mascot. To eat breakfast whilst seeing Chef Wendell alone on the box with a devious smirk painted on his face after his two assistants suddenly vanished under suspicious circumstances is not a nutritious way to start one’s day.
And finally, the late 1960s introduced the world to King Vitaman. First an animated mascot, the icon became a real man in 1971 with actor George Mann donning the crown until his death in 1977. While George Mann might have been a fine fellow and completely without malicious intent, eating cereal with an elderly gentleman peering into your soul is the opposite of a balanced breakfast.