For nearly as long as there have been movies, there have been food and snack brands appearing in movies, either as intentional product placements or unintentional props of the times. The relationship between name brand products and the film industry has evolved over the years to include movie tie-ins, a marketing strategy that involves placing imagery from a film property onto a line of products in an effort to promote them both.
At some point in the 1980s, brands like Ralston Purina (inventors of Chex and Cookie Crisp) and Kellogg's began producing movie tie-in breakfast cereals to appeal to kids. How many of them do you remember eating?
This Kellogg’s brand double-O-shaped cereal, named after Star Wars's protocol droid, came out a year after the original trilogy (around 1984). Those who dined on the golden feast got a Star Wars Rebel Rocket and the opportunity to mail in three UPC symbols in exchange for four free Kenner micro-figures.
2. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL CEREAL
The Reese’s Pieces-loving alien who stole our hearts and then phoned home in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was everywhere for a few years, including the cereal aisles of grocery stores across America. General Mills used the peanut butter and chocolate combination to perfectly connect the product with the film, and each piece of cereal was shaped either like the letter “E” or “T.”
3. GHOSTBUSTERS CEREAL
Ralston began producing Ghostbusters-themed cereals shortly after the original film premiered in 1984, and continued making them into the 1990s with different variations for the sequel and cartoon. The cereal was shaped like the logo and included ghost-shaped marshmallows (though adding giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man shapes would have made it even cooler).
4. GREMLINS CEREAL
Joe Dante’s dark comedy classic Gremlins (1984) did gangbusters at the box office and catapulted Gizmo to the top of pop culture’s cute-and-furry list forever. So you can imagine how eager kids were to eat a bowl of cereal pieces shaped like the little Mogwai. Unfortunately, the sweetened cereal did not multiply when milk was added, but the box did come with stickers and offers to send away for your own Gizmo plush toy.
5. BATMAN CEREAL
Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) was a pretty big deal for comic book fans when its production was announced 27 years ago, and Warner Bros. went all out with the promotions, licensing, and merchandising. The New York Times estimates that the film brought in upwards of $500 million in retail sales of licensed merchandise alone, and the branded breakfast cereal contributed to that payday. Because they sold so much of the bat-shaped honey nut cereal, it’s easy to find factory sealed boxes on eBay (which come complete with a Batman piggy bank).
6. PRINCE OF THIEVES CEREAL
A tie-in to the 1991 Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Ralston’s cereal featured an image of an archer, but it did not use Costner’s likeness and it did not mention Robin Hood. It did, however, come with a poster from the movie, cardboard punch-out pieces, or a game as a bonus. The crunchy cereal pieces were meant to resemble arrows, but some consumers saw something a lot more phallic in their bowls.
7. THE ADDAMS FAMILY CEREAL
Cracking open an old box of this sweet morning grub 24 years later is not highly recommended, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fond memories of playing with the free Cousin Itt, Lurch, or Uncle Fester-shaped flashlight while eating the “creepy crunchy cereal with the great taste you’ll scream for.” Humming and snapping along to The Addams Family theme should have been listed as a possible side effect.
8. INDIANA JONES CEREAL
To promote the fourth film in the action-adventure franchise, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Kellogg’s released a limited-edition chocolate Indy cereal with marshmallows shaped like objects from the film, including the hero’s iconic hat. As Mr. Breakfast points out, the box uses Richard Amsel's poster art for Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), not Drew Struzan's art for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.