Hooboy!! I find this hard to believe myself, but I saw it with my own ancient eyes. I was minding my own business coming out of Walgreens and had detoured through the food section where I was stopped cold. There, right before my eyes staring me straight in the face was a sight that I never thought that I would see again in my lifetime. Yep, there were two boxes of cold cereal and they had “prizes” in them! I was so shocked that I am not absolutely positive of the brand, but I believe it was Special K. One variety had some coffee packaged therein, and the other had a cup. I guess they figured that you might buy both and have a cup of coffee while you figured out what to do with the cereal. OK, you would eat it as it is pretty good stuff. Imagine in these inflationary times, that you can get a prize again. (I wonder if both parties will claim credit?)
When I was young, my friends and I used to try and get our mothers to buy the cereal with the best prizes – the taste didn’t matter that much. Back then the cereals were not covered in sugar. Therefore, the best way to tell whether you wanted Post Toasties or Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was to see what the prize was. Same thing applied to Wheaties and Pep. Pep had an advantage during WW II as they came up with the idea of cardboard fighter planes that you put together and inserted a penny in the nose so that it would fly. Well, it was supposed to fly, but rarely did. However, if you have one in the original packaging, they are worth some dough if you want to sell. I might mention that Wheaties did have Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy, and there were prizes related to him – not to mention a fifteen-minute radio program that ran Monday-Friday in the early evening.
There were a bunch of other fifteen-minute programs like Superman, Dick Tracy, Captain Midnight, Don Winslow of the Navy, Terry & The Pirates, Blue Beetle, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers etc. Many of them had cold cereal sponsors, but then there was one of my favorites, Tom Mix and his Ralston Straight Shooters. However, Ralston is a hot cereal so we have to ignore it for this article. Tom Mix had been a real cowboy, and he was pretty sharp. There were loads more, and there were two principal networks that carried them in the evening at the same time. I had to do a lot of switching to get the ones I liked best. Regrettably, we didn’t have this generation’s ability to just hit a clicker to change the channel. We also had to visualize many scenes which was kind of fun.
Now, I am going to have to check the laundry aisle to see if manufacturers are going to reward the ladies. I refer to the old days when laundry powder had a variety of gifts in it. There were glasses, tea towels, silverware etc. secured in the soft laundry powder or flakes. My mother was happy to get them although it was whatever her favorite powder had. Unlike kids, it seemed that most buyers stuck with their favorite. My mother was an Oxodol fan and that was it. Of course, most laundry products do not come today in boxes of soft powder, but I bet that the marketing departments would be able to figure out a way to be gift givers, if they really try.
If that occurs, just think of future possibilities. You might then be able to fill up at a gas station and get free dishes like in the old days. OK, we all know that is not going to happen! Things just don’t stay the same. Even the last Howard Johnsons has closed.
Barry Evans is a columnist for Villages-News.com