Today is National Raisin Bran Cereal Day which apparently pays homage to this very particular breakfast treat, though nobody seems to know exactly who’s brainchild this one was. I’d likely think it was one of the many manufacturers in an attempt to promote their products, but I guess the origin will remain a mystery.
As a kid, I didn’t like raisin bran as it seemed like an exceptionally boring cereal. While other cereals were colorful and displayed fun and interesting characters on their boxes, the Kellogg’s version of this cereal displayed a disturbingly cheerful and mildly deranged sun character holding two large scoops of what appeared to be mouse droppings over a bowl of the stuff.
I remember the animated commercials that they played during Saturday morning cartoons in the late 70’s to early 80’s. After seeing all the cool characters from other cereals, Mr. Sun would creepily appear on the screen to a little girl who asks, “how did all these raisins get into Kellogg’s Raisin Bran cereal?” Next, Mr. Sun weirdly winks at the girl then quickly kidnaps her before she can scream and takes her to his sunny lair called Raisin Land.
There she meets his little raisin babies who wave to her as he reveals his sinister plot of putting two scoopfuls of them into every package… so we can eat them. The girl, who appears to have been drugged at some point on this journey, smiles blankly and says, “Brilliant!” This was astoundingly horrifying to me. Mr. Sun had already established that he had no qualms about kidnapping little girls, and then we discover he’s actually trying to feed us his own children.
There was no way I was eating that, so I opted for Lucky Charms. This was a far more colorful cereal that was apparently magic. It featured a little leprechaun, named Lucky, who would tell you about his rainbow of marshmallow surprises including pink hearts, yellow stars, orange moons, green clovers, and blue diamonds. Later I think they added a purple horseshoe which was weird and sort of wrecked his little speech.
I felt bad for the little leprechaun because evil little homeless kids were always trying to steal his food. I guess I could have felt bad that they didn’t have mothers who would buy a box for them, but I always just felt bad for poor Lucky. He would do everything he could to elude them, but they would always win and end up stealing his Charms.
It occurs to me now that all of these commercials were bizarre. I’m not quite sure what the marketing geniuses at the time were thinking by promoting everything from stealing to cannibalism in order to sell kids on their cereal. Though on the bright side, I never needed to be told as a child to avoid staring directly into the sun.
Since all of the messages seemed so odd and confusing, I would often just choose my cereal by the prize they offered inside. This seemed like a much easier task than trying to decipher the strange hidden meanings of the commercials. And it made going to the grocery store actually fun and not just a horrible tease of wonderful food your mom told you that you couldn’t have.
These days, I still eat cereal, but just the boring adult kind with less sugar and without all the colorful chemicals. Sometimes I’m still lured by the bright packaging and characters, until Philippe assures me that the contents are poisonous and I need to step away. I do, but not without a feeling of loss, and a new understanding for those homeless kids as I would now have to mug a leprechaun myself if I wanted to get my hands on a box of Lucky Charms.
Even though today is for raisin bran, I think I’ll skip celebrating this one, and just feast on the memories. But if you’re inspired, then feel free to pour yourself a bowl and remember not to ask too many questions. I’m not sure if Mr. Sun has retired by now, but it’s entirely possible he could still be lurking around the corner waiting to kidnap you. Might be wise to lock your door first… just in case.