In a move that I’d have to consider to be one of the greatest things to ever happen to us monster lovers, General Mills announced last month that two of their monster cereals from the past would be returning this Halloween season. It was an announcement that had us all checking our calendars to make sure it wasn’t April 1st, pinching ourselves, and heading out on many a late night grocery store hunt, consumed by the idea of being among the first to secure the goods and make all of our social media friends jealous by sending out pictorial proof of our discoveries. Because that’s really what it’s all about these days, is it not?
In order to properly convey how truly exciting, amazing and earth shattering it is that Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy are finally back in our lives, after all these years, I feel we should take a look at a little chronological history of the events that have led to this most awesome of Halloween seasons. The short story is that the two cereals haven’t been seen in decades, which is really all you need to know. But if that’s not enough of a set-up to whet you appetite for the impending taste test, I’ve whipped up a little historical chart for you, which I’ve padded out with vintage commercials so that it’ll look less like a history textbook and more like…something fun, that you’ll want to be a part of.
So let’s travel back in time together, on a brief odyssey through the world of the monster cereals!
1971 – General Mills releases the chocolate flavored Count Chocula and strawberry flavored Franken Berry, the first two monster cereals to hit the market. The video you see above is the very first commercial for the cereals that ever aired, brought to life by Peanuts animator Bill Melendez.
1972 – General Mills is forced to change the formula for Franken Berry, a cereal so loaded with an artificial pink dye that it’s turning kids’ poop a reddish-pink color, making parents think their children are pooping blood. Not a shining moment in the history of the monster cereals, but a noteworthy one nonetheless.
1973 – One year after the Franken Berry fiasco, a new addition to the line makes his debut; Boo Berry, a blueberry flavored cereal with a cute little apparition as its mascot. Thankfully, he brings only deliciousness into the homes of happy young children, rather than blue poop.
1974 – Riding on the success of the first three releases, General Mills decides to add another monstrous mascot to the mix, this time taking inspiration from The Wolf Man. Represented by a colorful and friendly looking werewolf, Fruit Brute was a fruit flavored cereal, which came packed with lime flavored marshmallows.
1984 – After only ten years, Fruit Brute is discontinued, and pulled from the line. An official reason for his termination has never been given, but the reason is presumably because the mascot and his cereal just didn’t quite catch on the way his monster pals did.
1987 – Making another go at it, General Mills remakes their fruit flavored cereal, this time replacing the werewolf with an equally colorful and jovial mummy, re-branding the cereal Fruity Yummy Mummy and changing the lime marshmallows to vanilla.
1993 – After spending a few years crying over the fact that he’s been replaced, Fruit Brute breathes a big ole sigh of relief when Yummy Mummy suffers the same fate, and is discontinued.
From 1993 through 2012, not a peep was heard about either Fruit Brute or Yummy Mummy, the first three monster cereals coming out of hiding every Halloween season while they remained locked away in the General Mills vault. As with any nostalgia inducing product that is no longer available, the two discontinued cereals have become the thing of legend over the years, second only to Ecto Cooler in the ‘please for the love of god bring this shit back’ department.
Needless to say, it was a momentous occasion when General Mills announced that they would indeed be bringing this shit back, for the very first time ever in the history of man making all five monster cereals available for purchase and consumption, at the very same time. Remember, Yummy Mummy was essentially a remake of Fruit Brute, so the two never shared space on grocery store shelves, a fact that makes their big return all the more exciting.
Much like the makeovers Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry have been given in recent years, Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy were also given sleek new digital looks for their big return, the brute even undergoing a name change. Originally called Fruit Brute, he now goes by the name Frute Brute, a difference in spelling that nevertheless sounds the same when spoken. There’s probably a word for a situation like that, but I never paid much attention in English class. I was too busy daydreaming about Halloween seasons like this one, where old friends come back into our lives.
Actually, truth be told, I was born in 1986, so I don’t have any nostalgic memories attached to Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve fallen in love with them over the years, but I never actually tasted them in my youth, so it’s been more a case of me missing something I never had in the first place, than missing something I once loved.
Anyway, I’m pretty hungry at the moment, so I think I need to cut to the chase here and start chowing down.
After a month of hunting, I was finally able to locate Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy at a Waldbaums in my area over the weekend, tipped off by a friend who I owe this most delicious of mornings to. I can’t even tell you the level of joy I felt when I saw the mummy and the werewolf staring back at me from the shelf, a reunion with old friends that I was never actually friends with that filled my heart with so much happiness that for a moment I forgot all about the incredible pain in my tooth, and felt nothing but elation. Did I mention that I got a root canal, approximately five minutes before heading over to Waldbaums? Because nothing soothes the pain of a root canal like 900 grams of sugar per serving, of this I am now aware.
While I have no memory of the original releases of the cereal to compare the taste to, it’s time to pour myself a couple of bowls and get to tasting. How do the return of Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy stack up against the other three monster cereals that we’ve all consumed enough of that it’s a miracle we don’t all have diabetes? Let’s dig in and find out!
Back in its original run, Fruit Brute was labeled as being a fruit flavored cereal, and I can only assume that several different fruit flavors were packed into the little nuggets of cereal. For this modern day upgrade, the flavor has been limited to simply cherry, and the original lime marshmallows replaced with “spooky-fun marshmallows.” With each bite I’m becoming increasingly more concerned as to what kinds of hideous chemicals were used to create the artificial cherry flavoring the Brute boasts, and I’m trying my best to avoid the ingredients list like the plague, but the cereal is pretty tasty, with a definite man-made cherry taste packed into each bite. Or maybe that’s just what my brain is telling me to think, since it’s what I expected to taste after reading the flavor description. Either way it’s pretty good, even if I’m not sure I’d be able to tell the difference between it and Franken Berry, during a blind taste test. In fact, I may make my wife blindfold me when she gets home tonight, so I can find out if I’m able to differentiate the two. Just the kind of foreplay she’s looking for after a long day of work, I’m thinking.
Since General Mills knew that the generic ‘fruit-flavored cereal’ wasn’t going to cut it nowadays, with these two being released for the first time, at the same time, Fruity Yummy Mummy has also undergone a flavor change, now advertised as an orange cream flavored cereal. After only one bite I feel comfortable handing over the monster cereal world title to Mr. Fruity Mummy, hands down the superior re-release of the two. While Frute Brute’s taste is pretty comparable to Franken Berry’s, Yummy Mummy stands out as having its own highly unique flavor, the cereal version of an orange creamsicle that is quite delicious. Can’t say I’ve ever had an orange cream flavored cereal before, though I will admit that it does taste somewhat familiar to me. Makes me wonder if I did have Yummy Mummy as a kid and just don’t remember it, which is entirely possible considering it was still around until 1993. Despite the fact that I’m about to puke from stuffing so much cereal into my mouth this morning, I still find myself wanting to drink the milk Yummy Mummy has left behind, which is frankly the ultimate praise you can ever bestow upon a cereal. So job well done, you fruity mummy you.
My two cats have been super interested in what I’ve been doing for the last hour and a half, curiously looking on as I try to snap the perfect picture of a bowl of cereal and desperately trying to get a taste. So while I made my decision as to which I prefer, I wanted to let them form their own opinions, like any good parent would.
I poured a bowl of each and laid them out onto the floor of my office, summoning both Mothman and Cliff in to have a taste. After a few seconds of sniffing and staring into the bowls, they both determined that what was laid out before them was not cat food, and they decided to lick each other’s butts instead. The results of that test were both inconclusive and highly disturbing, but I feel good in knowing that I let them get in on the fun.
I must mention that while all five of the monster cereals are available everywhere cereal is sold (at least, everywhere that decides they want to carry them), they’re also available in retro style packaging, exclusively at Target. So even if you find them elsewhere, you’re gonna want to keep your eyes on your local Target, to grab a box of each as they appeared during their original runs. I promise the Facebook likes will double on a picture of the retro boxes, versus a picture of the new ones.
From what I’ve heard, the plan is for Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy to only be available this year, though I’d imagine if they prove themselves worthy of being on the same shelves as Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry, they’ll be back next year and for many years to come. So be sure to show your support by heading out and picking them up!