There is much to rue when one’s spouse sends the text message that reads something like “Can you stop and pick up a few things at the store on your way home”. I am not one who enjoys shopping. Instead, I actively enjoy “not-shopping”, which means doing virtually anything that does not involve shopping. But when the text comes, shopping shall not be avoided.
The most recent text was more complicated, and involved some kind of app-based electronic coupons, meaning that the shopping list would involve things we don’t actually need but which are a good deal. One of those things was breakfast cereal.
The breakfast cereal aisle was a magical place when I was a child. My younger sister and I would run up and down that aisle when we accompanied our mother to the store, looking for the boxes of cereal that would complete our young lives, making our daily breakfasts as joyous as the ones we saw
other kids professional actors enjoying on televisions commercials on Saturday mornings. Our mother was amazingly easy to get along with in the cereal aisle, something that surprises me in hindsight. I suppose she figured that she could buy a little goodwill quite cheaply there, goodwill that would go a long way in other areas of child rearing.
Boxes and boxes of sugar-fortified grain products were bought and consumed in those years, and I became quite the conniseur of those amazing combinations of farm products and sweetners. Cocoa Krispies were No. 1 in my little world, but since variety is the spice of life, there were many alternatives such as Capn’ Crunch (with or without Crunchberries), Trix, Quisp, and many others.
It occurs to me that something is really strange. The 1960’s is not known as the golden era for truth in advertising. Today sellers of products must be meticulous in the truthfulness of their pitches. How come, then, are cereal names so misleading today? Like Corn Pops?
In my world Corn Pops are still called Sugar Pops. No kid ever chose Sugar (or Corn) Pops for the corn. Nope, nope, nope. Just try to put a box of unsweetened puffed up corn kernals in a yellow box and see how many kids pick it up. At least after the first time. Children are nothing if not fast learners.
Sugar Pops, Sugar Frosted Flakes, Sugar Crisp (with a spokesthing named Sugar Bear – who, oddly, sounded a lot like Dean Martin.) What are they all called today? Corn Pops. Frosted Flakes. And Golden Crisp? Which are not hawked by Golden Bear. Who would probably have to sound more like Jack Nicklaus. Perhaps there is truth in advertising after all, because there is probably not a grain of cane sugar within a hundred yards of one of the processing plants that make this stuff. What would we do if we had a corn syrup blight? We’d be in a lot of trouble, that’s what.
But back to my shopping trip, which resulted in several boxes of healthy-ish (more or less) cereal. And one box of Sugar Pops. I mean Corn Pops. Which I am eating as I write this. Hey, don’t judge – Pop Tarts were on sale too, and I didn’t buy any. A guy has to get some payback for a heroic act of self control.
Some time back I finally figured my way around Sugar Pops’ biggest weakness – its quick soggification factor when immersed in milk. The secret, dear reader, is to pour the stuff into a coffee mug and eat it dry. Mouthful after mouthful of a sweet, gentle crunch with no sogginess to be had. Such a breakfast, with alternating mouthfuls of strong, black coffee, is a luxury almost anyone can afford – especially with those e-coupons.
Because I am only up to about 600 words, I can take the time to clue you in on the history of this marvel of the free world. This august treat harkens back to 1950. When they were introduced as – – – Corn Pops.
They became Sugar Corn Pops in 1951 and then Sugar Pops some time later –
-this 1957 television commercial shows Sugar Pops on the box but the jingle uses both names.
But this 1957 ad is the new version. Isn’t cereal archeology fun? By the way, that is a very young Micky Dolenz (of Monkees fame) in the commercial explaining the goodness of this cereal for us.
They went back to Sugar Corn Pops in 1978 and then Corn Pops in 1984 – supposedly when several makers of sugary cereal decided that if they took “sugar” out of the names, America’s mothers would be too stupid to realize that the product was the same. But the kids knew that even after the cowboys went away, the cereal was still “shot full of sugar”. We just had to keep it a secret. So sssshhhhhhh. So I must confess that this is one cereal that has, over a long span of time, gone full circle in its name. So I guess I should just acknowledge that we are back to the original (though evidently unsuccessful) name of 1951 and just run with that. Do the multiple aliases simply reaffirm that Corn Pops was a bad cereal that ran with a lot of other bad cereals? I will leave that to you to decide.
I learned one other bit of Sugar Pops trivia – did you know that the Canadian version of Sugar Pops (by whatever name it has been known) is not the same thing at all as we have in the US? This is odd, because in my experience Canadians have a pretty good sweet tooth. Canadian Sugar Pops are what we Yanks would call Kix – you know, Cocoa Puffs without the cocoa. I would not kick a box of them out of my kitchen, but they are no Sugar Pops. I know Sugar Pops. Sugar Pops are a friend of mine. OK, I will stop with the bad puns ripped from statements of famous politicians. Or whatever they are.
One last thing – I can report that the life of an average sized box in the home of a well-nourished American male is two days. Hey, the stuff makes a pretty good standalone snack. Of course, with Lent hard upon us it was necessary to throw self-control over the side and have them finished before Ash Wednesday. And because we were thrifty enough to use an e-coupon, it just wouldn’t do to throw them away. Yes, cramming the entire box of Sugar Pops through my system in two days was actually an act of virtue. Maybe they will be on sale in time to help me celebrate Easter.
Opening photo – Kellogg’s Corn Pops – as offered for sale online at amazon.com
1960s Packaging for Kellogg’s Sugar Pops – From a Pinterest page on vintage advertising
Original Kellogg’s Corn Pops packaging – from seriouseats.com
1955 Packaging for Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops – from a Pinterest page on vintage advertising
1957 television ad for Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops – from the YouTube page of Monkees Live Almanac
c. 1957 Packaging for Kellogg’s Sugar Pops – from a Pinterest page on vintage advertising
1970s Packaging for Kellogg’s Sugar Pops – from a Pinterest page on Funny Drunk Pictures (of all things)
c. 1980 Packaging for Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops – from a Pinterest page on collectibles