Retro Commercials: Halloween Monster Cereals

I don’t know about you, but commercials can often take me back to my formative years as quickly as any song or movie can. That is why we will continue this semi-regular feature on ’80s commercials that I consider particularly memorable, noteworthy, or forgotten. Television commercials were much more influential back when we were forced to watch them without the luxury to fast-forward through and/or stream shows with limited or no interruptions. This issue will cover the Monster Cereal commercials from the ’80s.

As I have said before, some of my most memorable commercials from the ’70s and ’80s are cereal commercials. There are so many, and so far you can revisit previous features on Honeycomb Cereal as well as Fruity Pebbles Christmas commercials. We saw them all especially during Saturday morning or weekday afternoon cartoons. This was especially true during the Halloween season when the the kings of Halloween cereal, Franken Berry, Count Chocula and Boo Berry, would grace our television screens. The Monster Cereals still come back every year, even now, and I get a special tingle of nostalgia each year when I see them in stores for the first time. To me it is one of the signs that the Fall season is upon us.

In March of 1971, General Mills officially launched the now-beloved Monster Cereals line with Count Chocula and Franken Berry, chocolate and strawberry cereals inspired by Universal icons Dracula and Frankenstein. Boo Berry, the first blueberry flavored cereal, was introduced in 1973. They have returned to the grocery store cereal aisle shelves each and every Halloween season since. Fruit Brute was introduced in 1974, but discontinued in 1982 and Fruity Yummy Mummy came out in 1988, but only lasted until 1992 (though both have made some limited appearances since).

The Monster Cereal mascots were created with General Mills’ advertising agency, Dancer Fitzgerald Sample. Count Chocula was based on Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. His voice was originally provide by Jim Dukas, but Larry Kenney took over in 1978 and still provides his voice to this day. Franken Berry was based off of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein. His voice was provided by Bob McFadden until the late ’80s and Rob Pruitt has since taken over. Boo Berry’s face, voice and mannerisms were based on actor Peter Lorre. Legendary voiceover artist Paul Frees did Boo Berry’s voice for several years, but has since been replaced by Chris Phillips more recently. Illustrator George Karn, the man who drew the original Trix Rabbit in 1959, sketched the first images of Count Chocula. Bill Melendez, the animator who worked on many Peanuts projects, animated the very first commercial.

I always like when brands use the same seasonal commercial multiple years in a row. The Monster Cereals didn’t use the exact same commercial year after year, but used the same characters and elements that made them feel familiar each season. This created a similar nostalgia to those brands that repeated a commercial for multiple years. Monster Cereals commercials usually feature the monsters arguing over which of their cereals is more monstrously delicious, when something or someone frightens them. Even though they are monsters, they are often scared quite easily. The commercials often ended with them telling you the cereal was “part of a good nutritious breakfast” which makes me chuckle when you consider it’s quite sugary making the adjective “nutritious” certainly a stretch.

We will pick up the commercials as we enter the ’80s and share a representation of some of the spots (not all) used over the course of the decade:

Here is one from 1980 featuring both Count Chocula and Franken Berry…

Here is one from 1981 featuring both Count Chocula and Boo Berry…

Here is one more from 1981 this time with Count Chocula and Franken Berry…

Here is one from 1982 featuring both Count Chocula and Franken Berry…

This one from 1983 touts the new “monster-sized” marshmallows…

This one from 1984 features Count Chocula and uses the “How ’bout a Monster for breakfast today?” song…

This one from 1986 features Franken Berry and uses the “How ’bout a Monster for breakfast today?” song…

This one from 1987 incorporates the real Frankenstein’s monster played by Boris Karloff along with Franken Berry…

Then they did something similar with the real Dracula played by Bela Lugosi along with Count Chocula…

In 1988, they introduced a new option with Fruity Yummy Mummy (essentially a reboot of Frute Brute) but he only lasted until 1992…

This one from 1989 hypes up “monstermallows” and shows 3 of the monsters with their real inspirations…

There you go, another trip down memory lane in the form of TV commercials. Some cereal commercials can transport me back to the ’80s in an instant and some of these certainly qualify. Like I said, seeing Monster Cereals commercials and boxes on store shelves announces the change of seasons just as much as seeing pumpkin spice everything or even the leaves changing colors on trees. 

More Retro Commercial Features on TRN

About OldSchool80s 71 Articles
Old School Tim has an adoring devotion to the awesome '80s decade. He loves to relive and share that nostalgia on a regular basis. The Kickin' it Old School blog site has been retired, but you can still get daily doses of '80s goodness on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and anywhere else they let him.

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