In the late 1980s, Ralston came up with a brilliant idea. People love to read the funnies while eating their morning breakfast, so why not combine the two? To that end, they created the short-lived cereal, Morning Funnies Cereal. Now you could skip dragging in your morning newspaper and instead read your cereal box, which they covered in comic strips.
Why it was great
Morning Funnies Cereal, with its brightly colored box and familiar comic characters was instantly recognizable. You could spot this box from 20 feet away and you had to have it. At the time it was one of the more novel ideas in the cereal aisle and I couldn’t help but grab a box. You will hear a lot of people, when talking about Morning Funnies Cereal, complaining about the sweetness. Complaining that something is too sweet is something adults do. I refuse to evaluate this cereal as an adult. So I am putting that attribute squarely in the “plus” column.
Maybe the greatest things about the cereal? It was comic themed and included some of the most enduring characters from that milieu. Including, Dennis the Menace, Beetle Bailey, Hägar the Horrible, Hi and Lois, The Family Circus, Tiger, Luann, Marvin, Funky Winkerbean, and What a Guy! It was an amazing selection and many of them appearance in this television commercial.
So what went wrong
Morning Funnies Cereal was great, but the reviews for it were poor. As I stated above, adults did not appreciate the high levels of sugar. Although reading reviews from the time, I am surprised at how surprised people were back then. Did you really think a Fruit-flavored cereal with cartoon-shaped marshmallows was not going to be sugary? Perhaps this presented an issue for parents, which contributed to the poor sales of the cereal, but to me the problem was not the cereal itself, but the packaging.
They just couldn’t produce enough boxes to keep people entertained on a daily basis while they ate their morning cereal. Just how many times can you read the same Beetle Bailey? Unfortunately about once. Sure it was convenient to have them right on the box, but at the same table the was a copy of the daily paper with a brand new comic strip just itchin’ to be read. So in the end, the real undoing of Morning Funnies Cereal was the one element that made it truly unique. Ralston, and their mad cereal scientists, were just too ambitious and in the end, ’twas the packaging that killed the product.