Sweet rebirth

Published 8:10 am Friday, July 31, 2009

One night, about a year ago, I took my 2-year-old son Jamie to the grocery store for a few items. As is usually the case, I decided to buy a couple of extra items that weren’t on the “officially sanctioned, spouse-approved” grocery list.

In the cereal aisle, I saw a box of Apple Jacks on sale for $2. That seemed like a pretty good deal, and it’s one of my personal favorites. It was added to our cart.

Jamie and I went down a couple more aisles, but then we wound up turning around. Upon passing the cereal aisle again, mid-store, I turned my head in the direction we came and saw a display in the middle of the aisle that I hadn’t noticed before because we had approached it from the rear.

That’s when I saw the blue boxes with the propellered alien on them.


For those not familiar with the sugary cereal, Quisp dates back to the (second) Johnson Administration.

In 1965, Quaker Oats Co. used cartoons by Jay Ward, of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame, in advertisements to promote the cereal. The ads even used a voice from Rocky & Bullwinkle, Daws Butler, as the voice of the alien Quisp.

Those ads, and many other cartoons from that period, are considered classics today.

Anyway, Quisp apparently got pulled from store shelves in the late 1970s due to low sales. It made a brief comeback in the mid-1980s, and finally returned for good in the 1990s as the world’s “first Internet cereal.”

It’s fascinating to me how, in what I perceive to be an extremely competitive market — supermarket breakfast cereals — that a product first unveiled 44 years ago and left for dead twice continues, albeit in limited production, to this day because it has been baptized as the world’s first “Internet cereal.” Truly amazing.

Needless to say, that box of Apple Jacks went back on the shelf and the blue box with Jay Ward’s cartoon alien emblazoned on the front came home with us instead, if not for a sense of nostalgia for the past, then instead a hankering for some really sweet cereal.