Last Call: The best cereal box prizes

Illustration for article titled Last Call: The best cereal box prizes
Photo: Joseph Rene Briscoe (Getty Images)

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a grocery store cereal aisle, not only because of the ongoing pandemic (my husband’s been handling the shopping), but because cereal is something I keep at arm’s length as much as possible. I love it so unendingly, and sensibly portioning out of a box of cereal across several days is an exercise in futility. My grocery budget balloons wildly whenever it accommodates both cereal and the extra milk involved, so I scrap the whole thing and sidestep the breakfast aisle.


This is all to say that I don’t know whether prizes are still included in cereal boxes. Are they? And if so, are they any good? I sure hope so, but Allison Robicelli informs me that most boxes have switched to QR codes and other online reward systems, perhaps to eliminate choking hazards, but probably because the internet is simply where we do most of our living now. These cereal box trinkets were never as exciting as McDonald’s toys, but always superior to Cracker Jack prizes. (Kinder Surprise eggs, in my opinion, sit somewhere in between.) I was always partial to those little parachute army men, an interactive toy that could not only fit inside a Post box, but could be themed to whatever movie release or TV show was happening that season. What are some of the best cereal box prizes you can remember from your own childhood?

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.


Secret decoder rings. Invisible ink pens. And 45 RPM records on the back of the cereal box...not because the song was particularly anything I cared about, but just because it was cool to be able to cut out the record on the back of a cardboard box and actually have it play music. That was technologically astounding to me as a child.