Guilty Pleasures: Kellogg’s Corn Pops

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?

Featuring Sugar Pops Pete! I still want a pistol that shoots sugar

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.

Media Credits

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

22 thoughts on “Guilty Pleasures: Kellogg’s Corn Pops

  1. Great post! And very timely. I also like(d) Corn Pops, but haven’t thought about them for years. I love dry cereal, and in fact, I have been snacking on dry cereal for about a year. The local discount grocery store chain has excellent knockoffs of all my favorite cereals, so there’s usually one box in my house that lasts (yes) for only about two days, or one weekend.

    When I was a kid, one Christmas present would be a box of Lucky Charms, one of many “sugar cereals” I wasn’t allowed to have regularly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, I can see that you will have to splurge on a box of (Sugar) Corn Pops (or their Brand X cousins) and see if the flame still burns! And if we avoid a couple of slices of white bread and a can of pop (one upper midwesterner to another), dry sweetened cereal as a snack can be the healthy alternative. πŸ™‚

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  2. Now I want cereal, but probably not badly enough to make a special trip to the store.

    Fortunately I do have a package of cinnamon rolls handy, and will just have to make do with those. πŸ™‚

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  3. The only time in recent memory I have had the existence of Corn Pops going through my head was from a statement by some politician. So more full-circle sorts of things and your Corn Pops are a more welcome occupier of my mind.

    I had the cereal a time or two as a youngster but the instant sogginess you mentioned is real and I left them to my sister who would eat about anything that wouldn’t eat her. Of late, I have discovered new variation of old themes, such as Cinnamon (and sugar) Chex as well as peanut butter Chex. And an organic version of Cocoa Pebbles which is great.

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    • Peanut butter cereal is one that does not call my name. Maybe it has to do with the peanut butter Capn’ Crunch I chose for the toy car inside, then promptly broke the thing trying to put it together. I had to go through a second box to get that toy car – a Dodge Charger. It was red. And I got really sick of PBCC.

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  4. Well, I’m stunned. Didn’t know our Sugar Corn Pops were different than yours, but they sure are.

    How us kids jockeyed to see who got to eat the Sugar Corn Pops in the Kellogg’s variety pack. Same as we used to sullenly jockey to see who HAD to eat the bran flakes at the end.

    I must say that Corn Pops have joined Big Macs and Soda on the list of foods I do not enjoy as much as I previously did.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh my yes, the variety packs. So much variety at the beginning, such horrible choices at the end. I am with you on the soda and Big Macs. Maybe it’s that I get the Pops so infrequently. I married a bargain lover who issued a decree that we could buy all the cereal we wanted in our house – as long as it was at or under 10 cents an ounce. The Pops very seldom made it under that threshold. I think maybe I need to approach her with a request for an inflation adjustment.

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  5. I really smiled at this. Nice memories. Growing up, there were 4 kids in my family. If my mother “dared” to buy a sweet cereal, Sugar Pops, Lucky Charms, etc. we (the four of us) would devour the box within an hour of getting home. This made my Mom angry, but come on… with 4 kids, we were worried the other would eat more. So, my Mom ONLY bought Cheerios and Corn Flakes. Good cereals, but not your go to sweet treat. I do love both of those cereals, but Sugar Pops, Capt’n Crunch, Sugar Smacks…OH MY GOSH, this health conscious world we live in would FAINT if to see those in our grocery cart. LOL

    Sounds like you / your wife maybe gave up sugar for lent?

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    • Haha, I am imagining the full-on cereal battle among you kids! My mother was brilliant- she would tell my sister and me that we each got a box. We owned that box like it came with a deed. Rule 1 between us kids was you had to ask for permission to have any of the other’s cereal. Rule 2 was don’t even think about asking because then you’d have to share back the other way.

      Yeah, sweets and Lent just don’t seem to go together. πŸ™‚

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      • Good system. You are right, with 4 kids, tighter restrictions money-wise. My mother is Italian, when she baked a cake, she never put frosting on it. That was so frustrating. She would say in her accent, “In Italy, we don’t have such sweet cakes. No, NO, NO frosting!” LOL It’s true, in Italy they don’t have sweet cakes like in Germany or Austria. πŸ™‚ Obviously, I am not giving up sweets for lent.

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  6. Took me right back to my childhood, J.P! I love the one box image where you can read the list of ingredients. They sound so innocent. “Gun-puffed milled corn with sugar. Molasses (molasses!). Citric acid. Vitamins B and D. I’ll bet the version you bought this year has a longer list (starting with the “devil’s candy”: high fructose corn syrup). We had all of the cereals you name on our pantry shelf and more, but the consensus favorite between my brothers and I would probably be Lucky Charms.

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    • I must really be in the minority, because Lucky Charms never made my Top 10 back then. I thought of them as Alpha Bits in different shapes with little cardboard-y marshmallows. Alpha Bits were OK at best and I was never a huge marshmallow fan, and therefore I was never jealous when my sister wolfed a box of them down in front of me.

      Yeah, I did not care to ruin the experience by reading the long list of things I should not really be consuming. Since I wrote this I have been wondering of the basic product is something that could never be made at home. What, exactly, is the process that produces “gun-puffed milled corn”? And was it the same gun that shot them full of sugar? πŸ™‚

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  7. This was not only fun but enlightening to me JP. We moved to the U.S. from Canada when I was 10 – hmm … did I know the difference in taste, as I also ate these sugary morsels back in the day too, both in Canada and the States? For me they were usually a weekend treat as weekday mornings were reserved for Cream of Wheat or Quaker Oatmeal, more sensible breakfast fare according to my mother. Those breakfast bowls of goodness were followed by a chaser of a teaspoon of cod liver malt – ugh. My favorite kid cereal was (and still would be, though I’ve not had them in a few years): Peanut Butter Crunch by Cap’n Crunch. I don’t remember the Mickey Dolenz commercial as I was only one year old in ’57, but I sure remember him from the Monkees. Today at the Park, along the perimeter path, someone had scattered Cocoa Puffs and Kix or Corn Pops. The little black squirrel was enjoying the Cocoa Puffs and I took his photo for a future post. πŸ™‚

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  8. Wow that was a memory trip down the cereal aisle. My mother did not buy the really sugary stuff so I don’t know what Sugar Pops tasted like. We ate Corn Flakes, Cheerios, Rice Krispies etc. I liked Alpha-Bits the best, and then Raisin Bran, which I still occasionally eat today. But she had relented by the time my younger brother came along and he got to chose and eat all the “bad” ones. There was probably more Saturday morning cartoon advertising by then and she caved. Mickey Dolenz was my favorite Monkee…..would not have recognized his voice.

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