Ghostbusters Cereal: A Retrospective
Note: Originally written for Ghostbusters Inc. in 2014 in part with the realism of the Ghostbusters universe.
With the blockbuster success of GHOSTBUSTERS,™ Ghostbusters Incorporated slowly began to license company trademarks for merchandising. Oddly enough considering what began to make my employers successful products for consumption hadn’t been considered yet. Until a trip to a supermarket by Drs. Stantz and Spengler. The “cereal aisle” was filled with popular characters of the time. C-3PO’s, E.T., Gremlins, Mr. T, G.I Joe, Garfield, Rainbow Brite, and others from a video game console company that may or not have directly ripped us off in years to come. One cereal was missing and it isn’t the obvious one.
After Dr. Stantz accidentally turned a company mascot against humanity the Stay-Puft Corporation almost went out of business. Their business partners had no choice, but to pull remaining stock of all things Stay-Puft, including Ray’s favorite cereal, Mr. Stay-Pufts. A cereal that once contained grains and Mr. Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (Men?) marshmallows which naturally stayed puffy in milk.
Still feeling bad about what happened, my employers were discussing the void in the cereal industry. Winston Zeddemore was skeptical if kids, let alone adults would eat a Ghostbusters™ themed cereal. After Drs. Venkman and Stantz met with Ralston (today Ralston Foods), Dr. Venkman was willing to stake Spengs’ reputation on people starting their days with GHOSTBUSTERS.™
With that in 1985 Ghostbusters Incorporated and Ralston debuted GHØSTBUSTERS™ cereal. Twenty eight years later we envisioned recreating some of our childhood’s breakfasts. As we actually had the cereal in the box. With how and where it was stored some of us didn’t want to have to call an exterminator. Two years later during Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary their was an idea to have a representation for photo ops, once it was beginning to come together, it wasn’t going to work. Thankfully that wasn’t the case for the creative minds at Ralston who knew the cereal industry and changed breakfast forever, or the next 5 years.
If you weren’t familiar the original Ghostbusters cereal had fruit colored “no ghost” logos not that dissimilar to Kellogg’s Fruit Loops with naturally white marshmallow ghosts. The original cereal may or may not have been healthy. I’m guessing having to tell consumers cereal isn’t made with tropical oils was once a real problem for the industry. It was a different time.
As the Ghostbusters™ franchise continued to grow with The Real Ghostbusters, the cereal did more then acknowledge these changes, they added value for collect…er to the breakfast table. The Real GHØSTBUSTERS cereal had purple marshmallow ghosts that remind some of us of hamsters. Along with Slimer shaped marshmallows that look like arrows. I’m willing to bet the concept was wayyy better.
With the popularity of Slimer during The Real Ghostbusters and its changes to the show The Real Ghostbusters cereal became Slimer! and The Real GHØSTBUSTERS. Slimer would totally replace the “no ghost” logo, practically forcing The Real Ghostbusters to stand closer for cereal artwork.
With the promotion of GHOSTBUSTERS II,™ thankfully we all got a much needed cereal break from that green guy. Ghostbusters cereal reverted back to movie mode, using the new Ghostbusters II “no ghost” logo. Complete with major promotion. After GHOSTBUSTERS II™ we’re not sure if the iconic cereal went back to some incarnation of The Real Ghostbusters or kept its classiness in 1990.
During the original cereal run Ralston not only produced Ghostbusters cereal, they offered “limited edition” collectible boxes. I don’t know how hard it would have been to “collect all three,” seems like more then one trip to A&P would have been needed. In my childhood a trip to a grocery store in a moment’s notice wasn’t uncommon. Isn’t their always something we need? Ya know such as cheese puffs, Fruit Roll-Ups, those donuts dad likes.
The original hologram series featured the iconic Ghostbusters logo, a “hologramized” version of The Real Ghostbusters, (most likely from promotional art) and Slimer eating Ghostbusters cereal.
With Ghostbusters cereal, kids could spend their milk money on a “special collector’s edition” of an The Real Ghostbusters episode. With The Real Ghostbusters on six days a week for the better part of six years neither my parents or I spent $8.99 USD or a quarter for postage. Almost $9 USD made an 8 year old feel rich. Part of that would have had to been spent on candy at Pat’s. I believe the episode was “Knock Knock.” It’s possible Magic Window could have sent other episodes. Fortunately either way I could rent these tapes from Dollar Video.
The hologram series was a popular one or perhaps needed to increase sales. Either way its very cool. When Ghostbusters cereal evolved into its The Real Ghostbusters cereal, Ralston brought back at least two (their could have more then two, these are the ones I know about) new hologram pieces. The first of the boxes features Peter “zapping” a ghost. The second shows the RGB version of Slimer eating Ghostbusters cereal and pouring milk into its mouth, practically at the same time! Are you telling me, movie Slimer had more manners?
The new (not as collectible) hologram boxes were the sugar in the cereal for Ralston’s across the brand t-shirt offer! A child from a future dimension who was (is) stylish travelled to the ’80s, told Ralston of the fashion trend to come, hung around long enough to help sell a cereal premium, and left into the neon pink, white squiggly line doorway.
For $5.95 USD and 1 “proof of purchase” kids would eventually get a hologram t-shirt in their selected size. Just because you have The Real Ghostbusters cereal didn’t mean you had to have a holographic Ghostbusters one. It was good to have options. Holographic turtles? Holographic plumbers? Those weren’t going to last. A holographic dinosaur though, maybe. A Cookie Crisp holographic t-shirt would have had me torn. I loved Cookie Crisp cereal, its characters, and their cereal premiums. While more affordable then the VHS cassettes, I didn’t have any of these shirts. Until adulthood I didn’t remember these had ever existed. Maybe it was that inter-dimensional time traveling kid.
For length and time I’d like to write more about Ghostbusters cereal premiums and sweepstakes as my schedules allow. We hope you and yours enjoyed our look back at Ghostbusters cereal. Until then here’s the memorable animated Ghostbusters cereal commercial. Companies couldn’t really sell cereal without animation. 😉
- Photos: Richard Roy
- Video: M2J, uploaded to YouTube on August 7, 2006.