There are breakfast cereals out there marketed to adults, and there are breakfast cereals out there marketed to kids. How can you tell which is which? Well, there are two ways. First, if the picture on the box looks like a bowl full of shredded cardboard, it’s probably cereal for adults. Second, if one or more cartoon characters are present, it’s probably a cereal for kids.
There were so many different ad campaigns going on in the 80’s surrounding kids cereals, I could do a year’s worth of Tuesday posts about them. For my first TV Commercial Tuesday tribute to a balanced breakfast, I chose one of the best remembered and longest lasting gags in the sugar coated oats industry… that for Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles.
Post introduced these two cereals back in 1971, and they were revolutionary in being one of the first products ever designed around a licensed character. If you lived through the 80’s, you know that just about every cartoon character had their own cereal (see above) in a pathetic attempt to cash in on their popularity. While they’ve all come and gone, Fred Flintstone’s Pebbles are still on store shelves forty years later…
One of the hallmarks of the commercials for Pebbles cereal is Barney trying to get at Fred’s bowl of Pebbles with every bad cartoon disguise gag in the book. These ads usually began with Barney saying, “Watch while I trick Fred!” and ended with Barney being found out and Fred exclaiming, “Barney!!! MY Pebbles!!!” These ads were at their best in the 80’s, and here’s a brief montage of them….
As cute and funny as this campaign was, at least to us kids, it did beg a few questions… like why couldn’t Barney just go out and buy his own box of Pebbles? I think the answer to this is obvious… quick, do you remember what Barney’s occupation was in The Flintstones?
Yeah… I can’t come up with it either. It wasn’t exactly brought up in the original series, and that leads me to believe Barney was slumming the unemployment line… probably making Betty walk the street for cig money. This likely explains why Barney kept trying to pull out all the stops to steal food from his gainfully employed best friend.
But Fred, being the fine, upstanding WASP he was back in the 60’s was having none of that shit. Fred undoubtedly voted for Goldwater, and he wasn’t about to be doling out handouts to some lowlife bum who didn’t want to earn his keep… even if it was his BFF. This is the only possible explanation for why Fred is such a stingy-ass about his precious cereal, and has a conniption fit if anyone so much as chews on a single blob of his fruityliciousness.
So there you have it… a peek into the dynamics that brought us one of breakfast’s most notorious confrontations. Join us next week, as we delve into the perplexing logic the evil kids were using to starve that silly rabbit to death…