Do you remember the Cap’n Crunch “Free The Cap’n Sweepstakes”?

The Free The Cap’n Sweepstakes started around 1986. As a fan of the cereal and contests in general, I was all aboard. I mean what kid doesn’t want a share of a million dollars? Sadly though, I was not able to participate in this particular contest.

Why you ask? Well, you needed to call phone numbers to play this game and I had gotten in trouble in the 1980s calling people like Howard the Duck, Santa Claus and others. So I was gun-shy about picking up the phone for the Captain. Because of this, in the late 1990s, I found 4 or 5 of the contest cards in my family’s junk drawer still intact. Like almost everything in that drawer, it was thrown out at sometime around the turn of the millennium, so while the cards went away, the memories remained and thanks to the internet, the commercials.

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Garry Vander Voort

Editor/Podcaster at Retroist
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4 thoughts on “Do you remember the Cap’n Crunch “Free The Cap’n Sweepstakes”?

  1. Max Power says:

    Do you think those “Free the Cap’n” kits were designed to look like Activision cartridges?

  2. Hi, Retroist. Brett “SonicBlu” Blumfield here, and I was one of the 10,000 winners of the $100 prize of this very contest. It was 1986 in the Santa Clarita area of Los Angeles, California, and I was in junior high school at the time, just in 7th grade. I remember the contest very well, and I ate nothing but Cap’n Crunch cereal to keep up with this contest. Every week, the automated message with that phone number changed, and you were given a clue card in which to write your answers down. I don’t remember the location he was at, but I do remember that he was behind the yellow door and it took the purple key to unlock it and free him. I remember the last two so well because I kept calling the toll free number again and again on a pay phone outside a local liquor store near the comic book shop (I was a bored kid with a fascination of automated phone messages.) I thought it was kind of fun listening to the soggies gloat about how they apprehended the Cap’n and what door he’s behind, then a voiceover came over the line and said “The Cap’n is behind the yellow door. Mark ‘yellow’ on your entry form. The one I probably called in the most was the last clue in which you had to get the clue about which key unlocks the door. Sure enough, the soggies were gloating, and blurted out that they needed the purple key in order to open the door, followed by that same voiceover saying “The soggies are looking for the purple key. Mark ‘purple’ on your entry form.” Since that was the last clue, they kept the message going until the contest was over, but I still kept calling the number even after I sent in my entry form. Skip ahead to the middle of Spring, 1986. I had forgotten all about the contest by then, since by February, they took down the automated message, which was replaced by a different message that the number I had reached was no longer in service. I remembered coming home, not knowing what to expect, and my mother tried to trick me into thinking I was in trouble by saying something like “I found something….something you diiiiid…” and I thought she found something in my room that I wasn’t supposed to have, like a scary novel or a dirty magazine or something. I was literally shaking trying to figure out what I did that got me into trouble this time, and lo and behold, my mother hands me this envelope with the Quaker emblem in the corner and a New York address. I opened it up, thinking it was a letter from the Cap’n Crunch contest officials saying “thanks for entering, but unfortunately you didn’t win…” (knowing my luck), but on the contrary. Right there in my young hands was a check for $100.00 and a thank you letter from Cap’n Crunch thanking me for following the clues that freed him from being captured by the soggies. I carried that check around with me for a week afterward, showing it around school to all my friends, and then at the end of the week, I went with my mom to the bank and cashed it. I still kept the stub in my wallet until it practically deteriorated from age, being folded and unfolded, and then I just wound up tossing it. (Wish I still had it though. Would have been an awesome thing to put in a frame with a blank entry form and a picture of Cap’n Crunch, but I didn’t think of anything like that when I was a kid. Still, this contest brings back a lot of memories, and many thanks for posting about it. It helped me remember this happy time in my life when I felt like I was walking on cloud nine.

  3. (My mistake. I mentioned it was Spring of 1986. Didn’t see my mistake until after I posted the above, but it was in February 1987 when the contest ended, and I received the check later that Spring. 1986 was when the contest ran.)

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