Friday, July 19, 2013

Snap, Crackle & Pop Culture

I was at Target on Oak Point Road a few weeks ago when I saw this special Retro Edition box of Kellogg's Rice Krispies. On it was a classic rendering of Snap, Crackle and Pop, looking exactly as they did in the 1960s and 70s.

Kellogg's obviously did their market research well, because I excitedly jammed the box of Rice Krispies into my shopping basket without thinking.

Why? Because seeing those friendly, familiar faces brought back happy memories of being a kid in the 60s and early 70s.

And of course, many of those memories revolved around cereal, because we were a cereal-eating family, especially my siblings and me.

We had cereal every day for breakfast before school, and some more when we got home from school. We also ate it as a snack before bedtime – sometimes polishing off a whole box between my brothers and me.

Cereal seemed to pervade all aspects of our lives.

We grew up watching both cartoons and prime-time shows that were "Brought to you by Kellogg's of Battle Creek!" I still hear that familiar musical tagline in my head: "K-E-Double L... O-Double Good, Kellogg's Best to You!"

Vintage box from my collection
We even took cereal along with us on our family camping trips. Mom used to pack a Kellogg's Variety Pack for breakfast at the campground. Predictably, my siblings and I used to argue over who got which cereal. There were always a few Rice Krispies in the pack, with one of the elfin trio grinning from the upper left corner of the box.

Everyone wanted the Sugar Frosted Flakes, but some had to settle for Rice Krispies.

It's probably a good metaphor for life in general.


Despite the nostalgic feelings triggered by the retro box of Rice Krispies, I must confess that it was never my favorite cereal.

Rice Krispies was one – along with Nabisco Shredded Wheat – that was usually in the cupboard. I guess Mom bought them so that she and Dad had something to eat.

Of course, my siblings and I loved the sugary sweet cereals – Sugar Frosted Flakes, Cap'n Crunch, Frosty O's, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, Post Crispy Critters, etc. And Mom – to her credit – bought whatever we wanted. (How many mothers do that anymore?)

We did eat unsweetened cereals too, such as Cheerios and Rice Krispies – as long as we could ladle on the sugar. I used to put so much sugar on my Cheerios that I'd have a half-inch of gritty sugar sludge on the bottom of my bowl, waiting to be dredged.

But getting back to Snap, Crackle and Pop.

Although their cereal wasn't my favorite, I always did like them. They were so cheerful and friendly.

Their TV commercials were very subtle compared to those of other cereals. Snap, Crackle & Pop weren't trying to prevent others from obtaining their cereal (like Lucky the Leprechaun) or devising schemes to get some for themselves (like the Trix Rabbit.) They had no funny adventures (like Cap'n Crunch).

Quite simply, they just wanted you to try Rice Krispies.

For me, the strange thing about the 1960s commercials was the fact that Snap, Crackle & Pop looked different than how they did on the cereal box. On TV, they had a much more streamlined, simplified look.

Here's a classic commercial featuring the simpler, appealingly designed elves singing the well-remembered "Snap, Crackle and Pop Fugue."

The "Snap, Crackle and Pop Fugue" was written by N. B. Winkless, Jr., jingle writer, copywriter, and creative director of the Leo Burnett advertising agency's television group. Strangely enough, the song was modeled on the "Fugue for Tin Horns" from the musical Guys and Dolls.

The "new look" Snap, Crackle & Pop from TV slowly infiltrated print ads. Here's part of a 1973 magazine ad.

A portion of a 1973 magazine ad
Eventually, the simplified cartoon designs of Snap, Crackle & Pop pushed the old, realistically rendered designs off the front of the box.

Here's how they looked on the bottom of an early 1980's box (below).

Since then, Snap, Crackle & Pop seem to be redesigned about every couple of years. The current versions look so deranged and manic that it's almost hard to look at a box of Rice Krispies without getting annoyed.

Anyway, I bought a couple of the Retro Edition boxes, so I can visit some old pals – and revisit some memories – for a little while at least.

1 comment:

-Alan D Hopewell said...

We were big cereal eaters at our house; my brother Phillip used to put sugar on his Lucky Charms.

Who remembers these cereals: Sugar Jets, Twinkles, the only cereal in the storybook package, and Kellogg's OK's with Otis, the Scotsman on the box?