It was 1993 and I had just entered the 4th grade. My parents were at work and I was home from school likely for Columbus Day in early October. I remember it was a crisp Fall day outside and can still picture the bright orange and red maple leaves collecting in my Grandparent’s lawn. My Grandparents lived in the house next door to us and I was over there on this beautiful morning just watching TV killing time. While they were busy doing whatever adults do, I snuck over to the telephone and dialed a 1-800 number I’d been waiting all morning for the opportunity to call. I quickly punched in my entry code while my head was filled with crazy childish dreams of being the big winner! After some spooky Halloween music, the next thing I knew NFL superstar (and at the time home-town New York Jet) RONNIE “THE RATTLER” LOTT was yelling at me through the phone telling me that even though I lost this time, that I’m always a winner, with Coca-Cola’s Monsters of the Grid Iron!
The Coca-Cola Monster’s of the Grid Iron promotion only ran for two years during the Halloween season in 1993 and ’94. The Grand Prize for this contest each year was a pair of Super Bowl tickets. For reference, the 1993 winners would have seen the Dallas Cowboys destroy the Buffalo Bills for the 2nd time in a row while the Halloween 1994 winners would see the San Francisco 49’ers defeat the San Diego Chargers in Superbowl 29. Other prizes included hats, t-shirts, free Coca-Cola products, and other little goodies. To enter, you’d purchase specially branded Coca-Cola products and find a code inside, typically under the cap or inside the cardboard box of a 12 pack. When you dialed the 1-800 number, you’d enter the 4 digit code and a random NFL superstar (via recording) would tell you if you had won the big prize… or not.
The kid who lived next door and I must have drunk what seemed like a million Coca-Cola’s because I remember us calling that number over and over again with all different codes. Perhaps that’s why today I am as close as one could be addicted to soft drinks, but I digress…
In my mind, and for as long as I can remember, this was a Snicker’s promotion. I was convinced that the codes were inside the Snickers’ candy wrapper and can even vaguely see the Monsters of the Grid Iron logo next to the white “SNICKERS” oval. Boy, was I surprised when I started researching for this article and found out it was Coke! I must have confused the two because my Grandmother had a sweet tooth (as do I) and had always stashed a bag of mini-Snickers in her kitchen cabinet that she’d let me raid from time to time during that time period. Funny how your brain can confuse the two things as you age but as soon as I saw Coca-Cola was the promoter the codes under the bottle cap’s came flooding back to me.
I’ve never been a big football fan like my neighbor was so I would always pretend to know who these players were so I didn’t lose my 10-year-old “street cred”. Sure, I had heard some of their names before but most of these guys were a mystery to me. We’d always brag the next morning at school about who we “talked to” on the phone the night before. Neither of us ever won anything but we were just excited to see who we could talk to and what “character” they were.
I associate this soft drink/football promotion with some of the better Halloween memories I have as a child. Even though some articles you’ll find online about Monsters of the Grid Iron are titled “Sports Cards for Insane People” and “Crap from the 90’s” I still remember this early 90’s Halloween promotion fondly.