A mascot can make or break a cereal. General Mills obviously knew that, and by choosing famous movie characters for the first two Monster releases, they all but guaranteed their success. Everyone fears Frankenstein! Everyone dreads Dracula! It’s puzzling, then, that two years later, hoping to build upon a successful cereal series, they said, “Hey, why not just use a ghost?”
Now, don’t get me wrong. Ghosts are scary. Maybe not “monsters” per se, but frightening just the same. However, they’re kinda generic. OK, Casper is a brand name ghost, but Boo Berry was, as far as I can tell, a run-of-the-mill spectre. If you watch a movie, and it’s called “Ghost” it stars Patrick Swayze, NOT Boo Berry.
These cereal moguls did something smart, though. They chose Paul Frees to voice the character. You’d probably know him as the voice of Boris Badenov in early episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle, or as the Pilsbury Doughboy. The man was a legend. For Boo Berry, Frees did a passable impression of Peter Lorre, and so the character always seemed spooky and also kind of out of it. (Which to be honest, is how I imagine any ghost to be.)
Boo Berry was always the third wheel in the monster cereal tv ads. Chocula and Frankenberry would argue about their cereal’s superiority, and at the last minute, Boo makes an entrance to stump for his. Generally, the other two monsters shove him in a trunk or push him out the door or whatever, but since he’s a damn ghost, that doesn’t even work. Boo Berry is an underdog, even in the spirit world.
Although Boo Berry has its disadvantages, he’s still got a lot of loyal fans. I reached out last week to see if any of you were, and the response though limited, was enthusiastic. Most people were into the mascot, claiming that “The ghost seemed nice.” This niceness was interpreted as intoxication by many of you. I heard a lot of versions of, “That ghost was high AF.” The limited availability of Boo Berry was a saving grace for some, increasing the nostalgia and enthusiasm for the cereal. One of you said that Boo is “clearly into ska, based on that hat.” I’d have to agree.
The lesson we learn from Boo Berry is that we don’t all start out with the same advantages, but with perseverance and an incredibly artificial blueberry flavor, we can still earn a limited, but lasting, success. May we all be a little like Boo Berry. Today, and every day.