General Mills Monster cereals came out in 1971, and at the beginning, there were only two: Count Chocula, and Franken Berry. It makes sense, when you think about it. Dracula and Frankenstein were extremely popular movies and why wouldn’t you want to eat a cereal loosely based on the antagonist of a horror film? “It just makes sense!” I exclaim, as I pour myself a bowl of Krueger-Os.
Count Chocula had a Bela Lugosi-type accent, while Franken Berry was British. The first TV ad showed them arguing about whose cereal was superior, and ended with the monsters being scared by a little kid. This story construct was meant to show that the cereal mascots were not frightening themselves, but served instead to reinforce the fact that most kids are, indeed, terrifying.
By 1972, Franken Berry was causing true terror. Children were being rushed to local hospitals by horrified parents. The chief complaint? Bloody stool. These kids were examined, observed, scoped, and prodded, and the cause, when it came back, was earth-shattering.
The dye used to turn Franken Berry Cereal that delicious shade of strawberry red was also dying the bowel movements of its most enthusiastic fans. No harm, no foul, really, but “Franken Berry Stool” is not the best sales tactic for a cereal. “Turn your poo blood red! Terrify your folks!” (Ok. Actually, maybe it IS a great sales tactic for a Halloween cereal.) Nevertheless, the good folks at General Mills found a new dye, and Franken-Stool was no more.
Over the years, more characters joined the ranks of Monster cereals, some of which we’ll be discussing this month, but I gotta say, this goofy Frankenstein with strawberries for fingernails is a favorite…Franken-poo, or no Franken-poo.