A Tribute to Nerds Cereal

You know me and food. We have a love/hate relationship. I love it when it’s around, but I hate it when it’s gone. Just like Nerds cereal. Loved it from the moment I saw it…and have hated the loss of it since it left store shelves. It’s just one of many kinds of cereal I miss. Let’s pay it a little tribute here.

The Nerds candy itself hit the market in 1983 and was an immediate hit with kids everywhere. Due to the huge success of the candy, Nerds cereal came along two years later.  It hit the market in 1985 and featured the same gimmick that made the candy popular by featuring not one, but two flavors in every box. And since you could get the candy in several two-flavor varieties, the cereal followed suit and offered two different, two-flavored options as well. You weren’t restricted to a lone new cereal on the shelf, oh no, you had your choice of boxes where one featured the dual choices of Grape N’ Strawberry, and the other box featured Orange N’ Cherry.

If you take a good look at the two boxes pictured above you’ll notice another super-cool feature about Nerds cereal. So not only did you get two different cereals in each box, but you also got two different cereal premiums in each box! They were going all-in on the two cereal theme by putting a prize in each side of the box. And not only that but there were different prizes offered in each of the two boxes. That was a savvy marketing gimmick right there. I’m sure kids all over the country used the argument with their parents that they needed all four toys in an attempt to get more of this fantastic cereal.

It wasn’t just the fronts of the boxes that featured the premiums to be found inside as the backs of the boxes did as well. As a matter of fact, the pictures below show that each box featured a different back panel design for each of the cereals inside. They were truly treating this as two different cereals which just happened to be housed in the same container.

I do wonder about something though. Did both boxes of Nerds cereal come in the same case, or were grocery stores having to order a case of each? Based on my experience in the grocery business, I would think each set of flavors would have been ordered separately, but maybe this was different. If any of you reading this have any idea, please let the rest of us know.

And if all these fantastic features weren’t enough to make Nerds cereal memorable, Ralston and Nerds went even further to double-down on the dual variety theme when they introduced the special Nerds cereal bowl.

For just a couple of proofs of purchase and fifty cents, you could send away and get the official Nerds cereal bowl.  That thing was so awesome.  It was divided into two different compartments so you could enjoy both flavors in the same bowl, yet still keep them separate.  But the sweetest feature of it was that it had a gate built into the dividing wall of the bowl!  You could raise the gate a little and let the milk flow between compartments.  Or you could raise it all the way and let both cereal flavors mingle together.  As far as main-in offers go, this one is in the top ten of my lifetime.

I’m not sure if I had the bowl or not. Part of my brain seems to remember it, but the other half tells me I’m crazy because if I did actually have it, I would have never let it go. In the past, I’ve sat and stared off in the distance trying to dig into the deepest recesses of my mind searching for the answer to this question.

Nerds cereal was perfect for its time. It had a great product that it was based on (the candy), it had several unbelievable gimmicks, and it had an eager audience waiting to eat it up (all of us 7-year-olds). In today’s much more health-conscious environment, I don’t know that Nerds cereal could get made. But I know one thing, if it did, I’d take the ride all over again.


If you’ve got a junk food question, junk food memory, or just want to share an observation of your own, feel free to drop me a line at junkfoodfiles@gmail.com. And you can always find me on Twitter posting about both old and new junk food, as well as other random geeky stuff. Stop by there and say hello as well.

– Mickey

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About Mickey Yarber 169 Articles
Sometimes referred to as The Retro Rambler...I was born in the '70s, grew up in the '80s, and came of age in the '90s. I love to share all the fun stuff from those years via articles and videos, and occasionally make un-needed appearances on various podcasts. I can also catch quarters off my elbow. Email to book me for your next corporate event.

2 Comments

  1. I remember this being around, but I thought it came later. And I’m sure I ate it, and seem to recall enjoying it, but not what it tasted like.

    They should bring it back so I can remember again.

  2. I did love Nerds candy and also was fond of the cereal, though I do only remember getting to buy it a few times. Agree with you that it is a great memory from the cereal aisle.

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