The truth is I get excited about Halloween because it’s the only time of year I can get the monster cereals. When I was a kid Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo Berry were available year-round, and for a while there was even Yummy Mummy. For my own particular reasons I’d also welcome the return of Fruit Brute, but that’s another story.
Even though they were available I couldn’t have monster cereals when I was a kid. This was mainly because my mother had read Why Your Child Is Hyperactive by Benjamin Feingold and concluded that sugar was making me not only hyperactive but also frequently moody. And to her credit I did seem to feel a lot better when I was switched to shredded wheat—although for some reason she didn’t buy the regular shredded wheat cereal that came in little tiny squares but a mutant shredded wheat that came in huge biscuits and had the same texture and taste as steel wool. Two were enough to fill a bowl and I could rarely finish one, so maybe things changed because I didn’t have the energy to be hyperactive.
It’s also probably a good thing I never had monster cereals when I was a kid because one of the commercials—I swear this is true—gave me nightmares. Or at least a nightmare. At the end of a commercial Boo Berry, who’s switched off the lights, says, “I’m in the dark!” Frankenberry says, “Me too!” An unseen three-eyed monster adds, “Me three!” The other two run off in terror.
Shortly afterward I had a nightmare that a man came into my room and hypnotized me so I could be eaten by a giant three-eyed monster.
Shredded wheat did nothing to diminish my hyperactive imagination.
I didn’t really miss the monster cereals having never had them, but at times it did feel like they were taunting me. For a brief time General Mills had some kind of commercial agreement with the now-defunct theme park Opryland and you could occasionally see Frankenberry or Count Chocula strolling among the rides. I never did see Boo Berry but I guess he was floating around somewhere. Boo Berry was the one I always wanted to try, partly because it was blue and therefore the most clearly unnatural of the monster cereals, but also because he sounded like Peter Lorre. As a short overweight kid with a funny voice I always felt a kinship with Lorre.
Now that I’m an adult I can enjoy the monster cereals and if I get hyperactive or moody I can go for a run or do something to clear my head. Admittedly even at this time of year the cereals still aren’t exactly easy to find. My regular grocery store doesn’t carry them. The only place I found that does is a big box store that shall remain nameless because I’ve given out enough free advertising as it is. Last year the monster cereals were in with the Halloween costumes because they’re basically made from the same material. This year they weren’t so I tried looking—strange as it may seem—in the food section. No luck. Finally a helpful employee directed me to a temporary stand in the middle of the baby clothes—again, basically the same material.
Eating the monster cereals has even been an educational experience. Here are some things I’ve learned:
-Last year Boo Berry looked a lot cooler because he was drawn by DC Comics artist Jim Lee. Frankenberry and Count Chocula were also reinterpreted by other DC Comics artists. This year they’ve reverted to the version of Boo Berry with a weird internal mouth flap which had some people scratching their heads back in 2010.
-In milk Count Chocula will quickly go from dark brown to light brown and tastes a lot like shredded wheat. The other two don’t taste like any berry I’ve ever tried, but are pretty sweet. And fortunately Frankenberry’s head has been redrawn so it looks less like an ass.
-One of the advantages of being a grownup is I can eat a bowl of each one right after the other.
-One of the disadvantages of being a grownup is if I eat a bowl of each one right after the other I get sick.
-All three use the same design. I guess really they’re all ghosts.
The most annoying thing is the cereals only come in mutant “family size” boxes. Who am I going to get to help me eat all this cereal?
Yeah, I admit it, I’ll eat it all myself. And then I’ll be hyperactive and moody and need shredded wheat or maybe just eat some steel wool to detox.
Here’s a collection of monster cereal commercials. The one that gave me a nightmare starts at around the 9 minute mark.