Swing and a Miss: The Fascinating World of Failed Breakfast Cereals

Somewhere, sometime, some brand manager saw some idea–something that from our distant objective viewpoint stands as an obviously lousy concept–and thought: “this is gonna be big.

Dennis Ryan, Element 79, Chicago AdvertisingAt least, you hope someone did.  Otherwise, there’s absolutely no explanation for General Mills’ Sir Grapefellow, Ralston Urkel-o’s, or Sugar-Frosted KISS Krunch.

Web Urbanist has a hilarious post that showcases dozens of these odd cereal ideas.  Given that grocery store cereal aisles contain more brands and varieties than any other, it stands to reason they would have some misses over the years.  But wow, some of those duds have been spectacular.

Packaged goods rely on product innovation and line extensions to drive new growth, but sometimes those extensions are a bridge too far.  I’ve worked on meat and cheese toaster pastries for Oscar Mayer (“It’s like a a bologna Pop Tart™!”), peddled an alkaline battery marketed specifically for Walkmans (distinguished only by it’s label which, unfortunately, no one sees once you insert them in the device) and like everyone else selling beer in the early 90’s, developed work for every permutation of dry/draft/ice imaginable.

Business thrives on new ideas.  Posts like these that showcase the wreckage of brand failures left smoking and charred along the superhighway of American commerce serve as powerful reminders that business really thrives on great ideas.

Speaking of which, one kids’ cereal idea I presented that horrified my General Mills client but I know would fly off the shelves was “Dinosaur Toes™”–puffy cereal tubes stuffed with gooey fruit centers.  If anyone has access to large scale manufacturing and distributing, drop me a line and let’s talk


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79


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