Breakfast cereal is a competitive industry. Food manufacturers have used a variety of colorful gimmicks to capture the attention of young consumers. While some products have become fixtures in the cereal aisle for decades, others enjoyed only a fleeting lifespan, existing now solely in our memories and old commercials recorded on VHS tapes. If you're craving a nostalgia trip, take a look back at these discontinued cereals from the 1970s, '80s, and '90s.
1. Crazy Cow
The makers of this defunct General Mills product understood that the best part of a bowl of cereal is often the sugary milk it leaves behind. The cereal in each box of Crazy Cow was coated with flavored powder that dissolved when wet. The chocolate variety "made its own chocolate milk," while the strawberry-flavored cereal made pink milk with a fruity punch. Despite the clever gimmick, Crazy Cow didn't make it out of the '70s.
2. Banana Frosted Flakes
Frosted Flakes has come in many special flavors over the years, but few have gained the cult status of the banana variety from the early '80s. Banana Frosted Flakes came with pieces of real banana baked onto each piece, making sure kids got something nutritious out of it. The fruity cereal didn't make it into Kellogg's regular rotation, but a version of it did return to shelves in 2019 when the cereal maker released a limited-edition Banana Creme Frosted Flakes flavor.
Cereal shaped like tiny breakfast items has been a winning formula for decades, and Ralston (the company behind the tie-in novelty cereal craze of the 1980s) followed suit with a bite-sized waffle cereal called Waffleos in 1979. They came in maple and blueberry flavors and featured a cartoon cowboy in a 10-gallon hat on the box—the perfect combination to pop off the shelves. Unfortunately, Waffleos was discontinued in 1982, and though there have been other waffle-shaped cereals since, it remains a cult favorite.
4. Cinna-Crunch Pebbles
Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles are two of the most successful tie-in products in cereal history. In 1998, Post released a new Flintstones-branded flavor: Cinna-Crunch Pebbles. According to the commercials, they were created when a meteor struck Bedrock's cinnamon bakery, with the resulting debris being deemed suitable to serve for breakfast. Cinna-Crunch Pebbles were discontinued in 2001, but Post released a similar product called Cinnamon Pebbles in 2017.
5. Cinnamon Mini Buns
Kelloggs debuted Cinnamon Mini Buns in 1991, and two years later, the company replaced it with Mini Swirlz Cinnamon Buns, adding another cereal shaped like a traditional breakfast item to the list of cult-favorite treats. The rebranded cereal was pulled from shelves for good in 2009.
6. Smurf-Berry Crunch
The success of the Smurfs cartoon show inevitably led to the release of Smurf-Berry Crunch in 1982. The colorful, fruit-flavored cereal appealed to kids, but it had some unintended side effects: The product was notorious for dying poop Smurf-blue. ( Frankenberry had similar issues, and the reddish stool it produced caused an even bigger panic.) Post replaced Smurf-Berry Crunch with the reformulated (and also short-lived) Smurf Magic Berries cereal in 1987.
7. Ghostbusters Cereal
One of Ralston's most successful tie-in products from the 1980s was Ghostbusters cereal. After debuting in 1985, the branded cereal stuffed with ghost-shaped marshmallows remained on shelves for an impressive five years. (The success of Ghostbusters II and the animated show throughout the '80s helped its longevity.) Fans of the cereal were treated to its brief revival in 2021 in the promotion of Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
8. Sprinkle Spangles
General Mills launched Sprinkle Spangles in the fall of 1993. The star-shaped, sprinkle-covered cereal arrived less than a year after Disney's Aladdin (1992), and it featured a cartoon genie as the mascot. The character was even voiced by a comedian (Dom Deluise) channeling Robin Williams in the commercials. By 1995, Sprinkle Spangles had been phased out of the market.
9. Vanilly Crunch
Cap'n Crunch has led to several popular spin-off products, including Crunch Berries and Peanut Butter Crunch. You might forget about one of its other variations: Vanilly Crunch. As its name suggests, this was a vanilla-flavored Cap'n Crunch that popped up in the '70s. The special flavor even had its own mascot in the form of Wilma the Winsome White Whale.
10. Ice Cream Cones
While people can stomach cookies for breakfast, ice cream cereal was apparently a step too far. Ice Cream Cones was available in vanilla and chocolate chip flavors when it debuted in 1986, but it was off shelves by the time '87 rolled around. It did make a brief comeback, however, when General Mills brought it back in 2003 in honor of the ice cream cone's 100th anniversary.
11. Hidden Treasures
Every piece of cereal in a box of Hidden Treasures was a mystery: Some of the crispy corn squares contained a fruit-flavored (cherry, grape, or orange) filling, while others were plain. It was up to kids to shovel spoonfuls into their mouths and find out for themselves. Sadly for fans, General Mills released Hidden Treasures in 1993 and discontinued it just two years later.