It’s a pretty incredible experience to turn into the cereal aisle at an American grocery store to find that the whole aisle is full of cereal boxes. Even more incredible is that it’s so hard to find a cereal that isn’t amply laced with sugar or corn syrup. I’ve always found cereal-box art to be interesting stuff. Join me for a moment, won’t you, and we can appraise some examples together.
The following are all generic Publix-brand cereals. I like the full-on cartoony aspect of them, and how the layout is fairly clean. Many of the brand name cereals are so packed with extra little boxes and messages and such that they’re overdone, a bit too much to look at. In contrast, these ones have a refined, forceful gestalt. They practically scream “EAT SUGAR AND GO APESHIT, KIDS!!” These are of such a quality that I feel I could frame and hang them on the wall in my padded room, if the guards would just let me have a thumbtack or two.
Now contrast these with the following examples, which I found in Bamberg, Germany:
There is a marked difference in the composure of the German breakfast-creatures. The mouse, elephant, duck, and bird are all well in control of their mental faculties, and there is no suggestion of magic having anything to do with the morning meal. Whereas the American cereal beasts are a bit aggressive, here we observe friendly, cultured politeness.
Note the heavy eyelids of the mouse (who obviously appreciates the simple pleasures of a wildflower), the moderate smiles, the eyes of the elephant and duck turned towards the viewer (as opposed to the head-on wild-eyed stares of the Publix cocoa monsters). The turned eyes are more inviting, and they seem to be an invitation, not a challenge. The elephant seems to say, “These Zauberfleks are a well-kept secret of quality morning nutrition. Sample a bowl before word gets out to the masses.”
This appraising tone is reflected in the blue bird, who gives a “thumbs up,” so that we know that Vitalis Crunchies carries the unqualified approval of the Bavarian avian community.
Now we turn our attention to the Czech Republic. These cereals were found in Prague.
Again, there is a more restrained cartoonishness. Both the badger and the mouse here look to be working-class fellows, and we all know that a hard worker knows a good breakfast cereal. Note the extended, upturned tongue, the universal symbol for “YUM.”
Ah, back to some wildness. Note here that the extended tongue has gone beyond signifying “YUM,” and now denotes either mental derangement or extreme horniness. This Biskiti character bears a manic, rabid likeness to America’s Honeycomb Monster, which my wife says I kind of look like:
But anyway, getting back to Czech cereals…
And how about the Choco Creeps and Freaks? Don’t worry, Michelle! They’re safely enclosed in that bag, and cannot harm you.
I like the detail on the eyes of these monsters… they both have a shimmering reflection. What’s that dripping down the Choco Creep’s head? Blood?
The Choco Freak has obviously gorged herself, and now little chocolate balls are spilling out of her mouth in an embarrassing display. Here the extended tongue indicates a mixture of satisfaction and nausea.
This kind of stuff makes me wonder what kind of packaging we might see if crystal meth were ever fully legalized and marketed to children.