Cereal Box Toys


Remember when you went to the grocery store with your mom and you got to pick the cereal? Be honest … did you pick the most nutritious (did we even know what that meant) kind? Did you go for the sugar versions or the colorful contents? Or did you, like me, pick the cereal box that contained a prize at the bottom of the box?

To continue with the soul searching, did you ever pour out the cereal to get the toy, and then put the cereal back in the box? Be honest! Some cereal manufacturers even hid their toys underneath the bag that was in the box. What devious person decided to do that?

Premiums have been gone from cereal boxes for years. Kellogg’s was the innovator behind this genius move. Initially, they gave away books that buyers had to get through the mail after they’d sent in two box tops or other qualifying parts of the box and possibly some money. Later, actual items were put in the boxes, including things like paper dolls, squirt guns, stickers, records, and toys.


My favorites included the Navy frogmen and miniature toy guns, but my absolutely most favorite of all items ever, was the little SUBMARINE that sank and floated back to the surface when you put a pinch of baking soda into its “special” compartment. The genius of the cereal companies was displayed when they offered sets of items, like the frogmen. The cereal company’s genius was our pitfall, because the rest of the set could be obtained only through mail order (Can you remember Battle Creek, Michigan?) and only after you ate the requisite number of boxes of cereal and sent in sufficient money. It always took a long time for your order to be received. In fact, I actually forgot several times that I had ordered something. If you look on eBay, some of these toys are available for a lot of money, relatively speaking. I think I might have finally outgrown the submarine, although when I went to eBay to do research for this blog entry, I actually thought, for a moment, about getting another one.


And then there was Cracker Jack. Somehow, moms knew instinctively that Cracker Jack wasn’t a cereal, even though those boxes also had prizes. It wasn’t a taste I ever acquired.

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10 thoughts on “Cereal Box Toys

  1. I put myself through college working at Kellogs. When I worked in quality control I set on a tall stool and stared at the bottom of I filled boxes to be sure the coupon was inserted. That’s when I fell asleep with my eyes open.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Lynn Armanino



  2. Lots of baking soda in the bathtub. Remember taping coins to the coupon to mail it in for the rest of the set?


  3. No kidding, Fred! I had Cracker Jacks for an evening snack last night. I did acquire a taste for them/it/whatever.

    Take good care good buddy. That high school ROTC story was just saddening. At my high school we had an Air Force

    ROTC unit that was run very well by a retired LtCol and an E37 or something. So they all aren’t shabby. Be healthy and

    be happy Fred.

    My best to your brother I think about him a lot and certainly wish him and you the best.



  4. This got me to thinking! Can you imagine the warnings that would have to be put on the cereal boxes containing toys if they existed today. “Prizes may contain small parts”; “Not appropriate for children under 3” ; “Keep out of the reach of small children”; “Adult supervision required” Isn’t it just amazing that we are still alive!!!! ROFL


  5. Oh yes, definitely chose the kind with toys. And, yes had to empty the box as soon as we got home home so we could get our little treasures. Good memory which I hadn’t thought of in years. Thanks Fred.


  6. Yes, this was fun!  Kellogg’s Corn Flakes had paper dolls, as I remember.  I recall my brother getting the Frogmen.  I also recall him emptying the cereal out to get the toy!  Me, no, I’d be afraid of wh


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