Tuesday, April 27, 2010

How a cereal company ruined my childhood

Back when I was a kid (so many, many years ago) my favorite cereal was Cocoa Pebbles. I loved that it turned my milk in to chocolate milk, it tasted good, and it had Fred and Barney on the box. What else could I want? I trusted Fred and Barney to keep me entertained on the back of the box as I ate my 6 bowls of cereal. (Fortified with 8 vitamins and minerals, part of this complete breakfast.) Then, one day, they let me down. I still haven't forgiven them.

You know how sometimes you get toys in the box? Sure, they aren't anything special, usually crap, but it was something you got for free. Just for eating the cereal you already love. It was great. Well, one day I saw something that I thought was even better. On the back of the box I was reading one particular morning, there was a special prize you could you send away for. I don't remember how many boxtops I needed to save, but it didn't matter since I ate about a box a week. I think I had to pay postage and handling which was probably $1.95 at the time. Everything was cheaper in the old days, you know.

Anyway, it was Treasure Chest of 25 games. Yes, 25 games! Can you believe it? They were going to send me a chest full of games and all I had to do was eat the cereal I loved and beg my parents for a measly 2 bucks. Awesome! I was so excited since all the games and toys in my room were obviously obsolete and my buddies Fred and Barney were going to send me some new games. Thanks Guys!

So, I waited patiently for the usual 4-6 weeks for my friends at the cereal company to put together my chest of games and send them to me. I don't think I checked the mail everyday, but I probably bothered our letter carrier Teddy (yes, we knew his name) asking about it.

Then the big day came. I got a package addressed to me. Actually it was a manila envelope (which I used to call a vanilla envelope back then because I was a cute little boy right out of a Rockwell painting). I was confused. How did they fit a treasure chest of games in an envelope? Maybe this was just a special autographed photo of Fred and Barney letting me know that my chest was on the way. I just needed to give the boys time to put it together. Sadly, that was not the case.

How do you fit a treasure chest of games in a manila envelope? Like this:

Doesn't that make you drool in excitement to play all these games? Yay, cardboard!

Here is the "chest." It's a cardboard envelope-thing that they didn't bother to put together. Yes, I had to fold it up to put all the "games" in. As you can see I was so pissed off I didn't bother.

Let's take a look at what we have.

This board had three games; hurdles, geography quiz and state tour. Yes, two geography tests on one board, can you feel the excitement? Just what every kids wants in their treasure test of games!

This next board was Percheesy. Come one, they couldn't spell it right? Not to mention the fact that every house in the US already had this game in their house during the 70's. Who needs a cheap-ass version of it?

Now, you would think this is a basic chess or checker board, but you would be wrong. In the completely awesome Treasure Chest of Games, you get 9 full games out of this board. I'll put the instruction book at the end so you can read all about the nine different games. I can't contain my joy enough to write about all of them.

Now, this is a colorful board. It has to be since you can play 15 different games on it! You can spend an entire day on one board and not play the same thing twice. You might want to put a gun to your head, but that is a different game that wasn't included in this chest of games. Look, who needs to go outside to play baseball when you can play it on this board right here? That sun will give you cancer, you know. Sure, you could say that it was perfect for a rainy day, but so was the TV, a book or any of my toys that actually did something.

Now , you might be asking yourself, how do I play these games? Did it come with pieces? Sure it did. Here are the plastic checkers pieces and the dice.

What about the other games you ask, well you got these awesome pieces of colored paper that were conveniently left on a big piece of paper for you to pop out in order to use. They wanted to make sure you didn't lose them. How nice! Sure, your cat would probably end up eating these, but you can get some construction paper and a hole-punch and make more.

Am I exaggerating? No, not really. I was so disappointed when this thing came. This stuff is over 30 years old but it looks brand new since all I did was open it, put the crap back in the envelope and throw it in the back of my closet. It has not seen the light of day until today when I took these pictures, but I never forgot the experience. You wonder why I'm so cynical and don't trust anything I read or see on TV? Well, here is your answer. Cocoa Pebbles took my trust, stomped on it, scrapped it off it's shoe and tossed it in the trash.

I should be fair here and point out that, according to the list, there are 28 games included. Good thing they threw in the geography and hurdles games! Three bonus games!

Ah, I feel better now. Don't you? Did you get screwed over by anything like this when you were young?

Here are the instructions I promised. Sorry they are sideways, they are too hard to read the other way and I don't want to deny you the chance to read all about the games. Click on them to read. I you dare. Also notice the great 70s typeface.


Unknown said...

I find it interesting that the cereal company ruined your life yet you still have the Treasure Chest of 25 Games all these "many, many years" later.

I wonder if they called it "Percheesy" to avoid paying royalties to the makers of Parcheesi.

Sully said...

Two things that amaze me. 1. Teddy was mentioned in a blog. 2. That package looks like it's in mint condition. Are you sure you didn't send away for it just a few weeks ago?

Florinda said...

I think the lesson here is that nothing good can come of those cereals.

I hope writing about this has helped exorcise your childhood trauma. Next, you should get rid of this painful reminder - at least you'll still have the pictures :-).

Cookie said...

And I thought I was good at holding a grudge with both hands. ;^)

You should put it on ebay and see who bites.

Mike said...

fdtate: Like I said, I tossed it in the closet and never opened it again. I guess the closet preserved it for the ages. :)

I'm sure that is why they spelled it that way, but try telling 8 year-old me that. :)

Sully: Hey, Teddy was the man. We all knew that growing up. How many rubber bands did he give out?
Maybe I should sell the package on ebay as a collector's item?

Florinda: No, nothing can. :)

I'm thinking of burning it in come kind of cleansing ceremony.

Cookie: Hee. No, I do a good job of that, too. :)

Maybe I will. I don't know if it is worth my time though, you know?

Tall Paul said...

Dude. You spent $1.95 on it. It's like new. ebay could get rid of a bad memory, and more than double your investment. I'm willing to bet you could make 10 times your investment, especially if you have an autographed picture of Fred and Barney to go with it.

Mike said...

Paul: MAybe I could get some money for it. Not sure I want to put the effort into it. I don't even have an ebay account. Think of all the time it would take to set that up. :)

Excellent Half Marathon Adventures said...

I'm not sure if I'm more concerned that you kept this for so long (yes back of the closet I know, but for 30 years??!) or that you devoted so many inches of your blog to it. Just don't get into a Lukalos circa 1991 rampage and I won't have to seek help for you. But if I did it would only be because I love you :)

Now can you please go clean out the office/kids' tv room closet so I can move the kids' toys in there?

Sir Richard Wentworth said...

Wow, this is crazy.

I experienced the same sense of betrayal when I received my pitiful "Treasure Chest of Games" from the good folks at Post... I was furious, and I also lost all faith in the Corporation on that day. I guess we should be thankful for the early wake-up call, but at the time I just remember being incensed -- and feeling foolish for being scammed.

I wish I'd thrown mine in the back of the closet. I'm pretty sure I threw it away in a fit of rage.

Of course, I still enjoy a good bowl of Cocoa Pebbles from time to time -- after all, it's a fantastic cereal that hasn't been messed with too much over the years.

Unknown said...

I was also fooled by the chest of 25 games scam. I've been telling my kids this story for 15 years. Glad I could find these pictures to validate my betrayal. Thanks.

Larry D. Collins Jr. said...

I can't thank you enough for sharing these images. It is a very validating feeling. I will force everyone who will listen to take all of this in, immediately.

wolf said...

I was also scarred but this that I was telling my daughter about it tonight. I said let's look on the internet to see who else had this experience and here I am! Thanks for sharing!

Mike said...

Wow! I can’t believe someone found this after all these years. I’m glad to know I have not suffered alone. Lol