Their baaaack!!….and it’s not even Halloween!
Just the other day, while I was having a look around my local Grocery Outlet store in East Wenatchee, I was pleasantly surprised to round the corner of an aisle and see the faces of some familiar friends smiling back at me!
Now there's always a lot of grinning visages who I look forward to running into every time I go shopping. Mr. Peanut and I go way back; the Pillsbury Doughboy cheers me up even on my crustiest of days; Charlie the Starkist Tuna always brings out my inner New Yorker; and what can I say about Fruit Pie the Magician? He's my lifelong pal and knight in shining, artificially-flavored filling!
But even though my assortment of supermarket friends covers a wide range of aisles and departments, the shelves that make up the cereal section undoubtedly feature their greatest concentration.
From the Trix Rabbit to Toucan Sam and Lucky the Leprechaun to my very bestest interstellar buddy of all-time - Quisp!...the one place I can always go where everybody seems to know my name with nothing more than a static twinkle on printed cardboard gazing back at me is the cereal aisle.
To be sure, this fabled section of my local grocery store has many heroes adorning its halls of tiered sheet metal, but there's one wing in particular which enshrines a motley quintet of icons whom I've always possessed a particular fondness for.
Now these five champions of sugared-up, processed grains are also somewhat illusive to track down too. Whereas, I can always take the walk of cereal box fame and catch up with Tony the Tiger or Cap'n Crunch just about anywhere, these mysterious idols don't seem to show up very often.
And that's because they are now largely synonymous with only making personal appearances around Halloweentime. And that makes sense...considering they are all monsters after all.
Yup! The Monster Cereals lineup from General Mills has been a chalky marshmallow-infused staple of the American breakfast table since 1971...and right now, you can enjoy a little taste of it for a limited time just a few weeks shy of the spring equinox.
In fact, next month will mark 52 years since the two original cloying creatures from this ghoulish entourage first made their appearance on supermarket shelves.
Count Chocula and Frankenberry became instant chums for so many kids like me back then (even though they were born about two years before I was) and their companionship was quickly followed by that of two others who joined in their quest to spread marshmallowy mayhem.
Everyone's favorite apparition of all things not-really-blueberry, Boo Berry, came floating along to take part in the fun in December of 1973 (he's a Sagittarius by the way ; -) and the eldritch posse acquired one of its lesser known inclusions the following year, when Frute Brute was born from the wilds within the drawing rooms of General Mills' corporate headquarters in Minnesota.
Now poor Mr. Brute got the boot in 1982 by the company's execs, but his termination ultimately resulted in the rise of my personal favorite among the lineup's ranks - Yummy Mummy! Who was brought on board to fill the gap of something more fruity-flavored left by Frute's departure in 1988.
Sadly, Yummy's tenure was even shorter, as he was cancelled just four years later in 1992.
For the rest of the 90's and the first decade of the 21st Century, the original three sweetened monstrosities - Count, Frank, and Boo - held down the fort for all of those who still wanted a spook with their morning meal (aside from the ingredients label on every box that is!).
Then, in 2010, General Mills announced that their cornerstone trio would only be coming out to play for a few months every autumn in conjunction with All Hallow's Eve.
Once again, these three buttoned things up on a seasonal basis for frightful lovers of their ghastly gruel, but then in 2013, the company decided to rehire both Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy to join them - marking the first time that all five friends would be available at the simultaneously.
This joyous union has now withstood the test of autumnal passages for ten consecutive years now, and there's no sign of them being done anytime soon.
When I was just a boy, I can certainly recall seeing the television commercials for all of the Monster Cereals, but sadly the distribution radius of their product didn't include the Wenatchee Valley, and I was actually much older before I was ever able to hang out with these fiendish friends and sample their wares.
Admittedly, once I did get the chance to cozy up to a bowl of four of the flavors, after finally finding them at a local supermarket in 1991 (but not Frute Brute...which I've still never tried!), my tongue didn't exactly fall in love. And today, it'd take quite a miracle for me to even think about putting that stuff in my body.
Nevertheless I still absolutely adore each and every one of the happy hobgoblins who hawk the chalk and all those colored bits found in the Monster Cereals, and was so pleased to find them visiting so near to me once again just a few days back.
Unfortunately, Sir Chocula (I do believe he was knighted by the Queen even though he isn't British...wasn't he?) and Monsieur Mummy (he could just as easily be a French mummy, yes?) are conspicuously absent from the current party going on at the Grocery Outlet near me. But Frank, Boo, and even Brute are all over there right now...and for less than a dollar per box too!
So if you've got a taste for something that might just kill you one day but would be worth dying for just to relive some childhood memories of breakfast before school...or if you're like me and just feel like basking in the humorously hideous glow of some super cool, otherworldly pals, then I'd suggest you haul your own marshmallowly butt over there real soon before they all decide to vanish into the night until who knows when!