Yup, Pac-Man had one too. And why not? He's enjoyed decades of popularity eating Kix; it's only natural that he'd end up with his own cereal. The fact that this stuff existed is a feather in Pac's cap - it came out in an era where specially-themed cereals weren't the norm. Back then, the aisles weren't filled with corn flakes shaped like actors' heads or marshmallow bits that look slightly like the latest popular puppet. Pac-Man Cereal came into its own during a time where breakfast was downright boring. You know that Fruit & Fiber cereal, right? Well, back then, there were literally a dozen different varieties of the crud. The most important meal of the day might have been better for you in those lost times, but it really wasn't all that much fun.
Oh sure, there were still the classic cereal characters lurking around. And there were certainly a few sweet cereals chock full of sugar and something-named-differently-but-still-sugar. But most of them were either circus-themed or animal-themed or clown-themed or some other -themed that blew. When Pac-Man entered the fray, kids rejoiced. All they ever wanted was a cereal they could play with. What could possibly be more fun than making your marshmallow Pac-Man eat a marshmallow ghost while telling your parents that they're marshmallow cannibals and being really impressed that you learned the word 'cannibal' in school yesterday? I wish this stuff was still around now - it's really difficult to bring that kind of animism to purple horseshoes and Crunchberries.
It came out during the height of 80s fashion, which is disappointing since now you're going to have to look at a bunch of kids dressed like retards with oversized sunglasses. But hey, maybe that's your thing. They do have a sort of quiet, Village of the Damned quality going for them. The girls are dressed in white blazers and pink blouses, while the boy is dressed in a...oh, a white blazer and a pink blouse. It's not gender bending, it's a show of solidarity for the ultimate video game hero. I could've sworn I saw the girl on the right somewhere else, but I just remembered my recurring nightmare about the giant killer bee, and that explains it away. Could you imagine the tan lines glasses like that would leave? Poor girl's gonna end up looking like something that would serve drinks on Babylon 5.
They're all looking into the holy box of Pac-Man Cereal, which oddly is exhuming these spirited beams of pink light. I just got this picture in my head of Ms. Pac-Man holding a party-colored flashlight up at the kids while screaming 'CLOSE THE DAMN BOX.' I don't think that'll read funny, but it amused me enough to where I just don't care. If you think I'm being too hard on the kids, that's only because you haven't suffered like I have. You haven't seen them dance yet. What's that? What's that you say? "Oh, he's lying. He's reviewing a hundred-year-old commercial nobody has access to and he's just making up whatever he wants. Those kids don't dance. And there's no crying in baseball." Wrong again! When Gary Carter shared a victory with the '86 Mets in the World Series, and saw that one lonesome sign reading "It's Gotta Be The Curls," he proved that there is crying and baseball. And you know what else? The kids do dance...
AND if you GO ... chasing RaBbiTs
...and you know you're going to fall....
TELL 'EM A HOOKAH .. .. SMOKIN' CATEPILLAR!
....hAs gIveN you the cALL...
Don't Forget It! Mr. Herman!
...no basement in AL - A - MO.... cha cha cha
Tastewise, it was mostly the same as every other cereal that came with marshmallow bits. Only real difference was that the corn puffs in Pac-Man were a little more sugary than usual, almost shellacked. The marshmallows also appeared a little more sparsely than they usually do in these cereals, so the best way I can describe the eating experience is this: you've got a decent, if kinda boring bowl of Kix in front of you. As you eat it, you're sure to take spoonfuls of your brother's Lucky Charms marshmallows when he's not looking. That's sort of what it tasted like, only minus the disgusting sloppy seconds brothermilk.
All of the major characters are represented. Well, all except Baby Pac-Man. And to be honest, I'm thankful for that. The last thing I want to picture while eating breakfast is Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man copulating. I'm not even sure how they'd do it, but I'm sure it's disgusting. Obviously, the cereal has plenty of King Pac himself. Let's see who else...
My only contribution to the Women's Movement besides occasionally wearing their underwear is a preference towards Ms. Pac-Man's game over her husband's. Now I know they're basically the same game. Okay, so they're exactly the same game. But Ms. Pac-Man has one inarguably cooler thing about her version. In the regular version, when Pac-Man dies, he sort of evaporates by flipping backwards and turning inside out. It looks neat, and while Ms. Pac-Man does the same thing, it's with an added bonus: as she evaporates, it looks like she's eating the bow on her head. Effectively, you can't get frustrated playing Ms. Pac-Man. If you win, that's great - you get all kinds of bonus points, fruit trophies, and whatever else. But even if you lose, you get to tell people that you caused "eating her bow" to be the last thing Ms. Pac-Man did before she died.
Adding insult to injury, you got to eat Ms. Pac-Man when you had this cereal. It was a great Shakespearean irony, almost poetic. Really. You know what the best thing about this breakfast was? I think it was the only cereal ever to include a full assortment of heroes and villains. You were like a neutral nation in the midst of a great world war, so fed up with these pathetic battling entities that you withdraw your noninterference to eat everyone to death. Meet the Ghosts...
I always forget their names. I know of few of them rhyme with 'Slinky.' The ghosts never got enough credit - think about it. When you're on the phone and your doodling mindlessly, and somehow you start drawing ghosts, what do they always look like? Not the ghosts you see on television or in the movies, or even the ghosts typically pictured on Halloween decorations. No, you draw the Pac-Man ghosts. Don't try to deny it, I know those are them. You can't fool me by saying it's that lecherous little Scrubbin' Bubble mascot. They way I figure it, each and every person in the world draws at least 450 Pac-Man ghosts a week without ever realizing it. I think it's time we paid tribute to these impressive and iconic specters. I'm not sure how, but it sounds like a good segue into parties involving a "Hit the Piņata" tournament. And come on, let's face it - that's reason enough to pay tribute.
Look, Pac-Magic. I wish the cereal pieces were really that big. One time I had a dream that I ate a giant marshmallow. When I woke up, my pillow was gone. Oh, ho ho ho ho ho. Oh, ho ho ho.
The only thing more entertaining than magic disappearing giant cereal marshmallows is the kid responsible for it. Who knows how to make Giant Ms. Pac-Man vanish and Giant Mr. Pac-Man return in her place? Folks, it's Fred Berry: The Early Years.
Hey how 'bout that burger, Shirley? Better be making that two, it's been a long day! Like most of cereals based on some type of media with a limited shelf life, Pac-Man didn't last too long in breakfast form. Probably a bit longer than the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Cereal, but that's no big accomplishment. It was a good foodstuff - it tasted alright, it meant well, and it didn't deserve to die. Still, I manage to find salvation in knowing that, with the aid of a carving knife and a handful of Corn Pops, Pac-Man can live on as a cereal. A manhandled and pretty unattractive cereal, but it's just the principle of the thing. It survived long enough to shill a few cereal premiums, though. Pac-Man gave out free toys a little differently than his cereal spokespeople compatriots - he taught kids the values of patience and responsibility by making them collect stupid tickets for weeks before even considering handing out the five-cent spider ring or whatever other piece of crap toy General Mills bought in bulk from Somalia.
The tickets look interesting. I think I would've kept those and skipped whatever that toy on the right was supposed to be. It looks they were bootleg Legos, but the only things you could seem to make with them were misshapen parakeets or 3-D Japanese alphanumerics. Having to send in tickets for junk like that couldn't have seemed all that worth it to most kids at the time. Pac-Man lost a little face with this one - the children has trusted him completely for years up to this point, but nobody could justify the dumb cereal premium. It made Pac-Man seem cold, cheap, and uncaring. It's why his popularity dwindled for a while. Even Ms. Pac-Man wasn't safe, being boycotted sheerly by association. The public eventually forgave him, and Pac-Man vowed to never again make kids wait 6-8 weeks for four pieces of colored hard plastic. All was well in Pac-Land and Midway Games finally found their smile again.
As an added bonus, take a look at this. When Pac-Man decided to conquer the supermarkets just as he had the arcades, he didn't stop with cereal. No sir, he wanted his bulbous yellow head firmly planted in every aisle of the damn place. So, in a secondary side-project, he teamed up with Chef Boyardee. The end result? Pac-Man Pasta.
Just picture the cereal, replacing "sugar" with "goat ass," and "corn meal" with "juiced chicken heads." It came in three flavors, each more insulting than the previous. I will not deny that Pac-Man was destined to breathe new life into an entire industry, but that industry was video games, not microwaveable food. The only people who liked this stuff were the people whose mothers nursefed them using pregnant sheep. Okay, I'm overstating things a little, but it did taste awful. In fact, long time X-E readers might remember a very old and shitty article I did about this local deli near me that still sold the stuff - fifteen years past its expiration date. It just so happens that I've held on to one of these cans for a special occasion. And, since we were talking about celebrating those ghosts or something, let's go with that. Want to see what Pac-Man Pasta IN GOLDEN FREAKIN' CHICKEN SAUCE looks like after fifteen years? Hmmm? Are you sure? Okay you're the boss!
I'll admit it, I was afraid to open the can. It's from 1986 - sixteen years old, and with no preservatives. That means there's nothing in there to keep it safe. No Holy Ghost, no Christmas Yet-To-Be. There could be anything in there. Even Ms. Pac-Man with a party-colored flashlight.
The can is great - the back features some 'hilarious' Pac-Man riddles for kids to enjoy. Hey, why does a baker work? Cause he kneads the dough! By the way, can you think of something soft and sweet to say? Whipped cream! Wow, I sure hope no kids were reading these cans while eating the pasta. They would've laughed a golden chickenball out their nose. Notable ingredients include: chicken stock, rendered chicken fat, food starch, modified food starch, electrified food starch, dried whey, annato extract, monosodium glutamate, and stewed human feet. All of this blends together like a wondrous constellation to create the most vile and putrid sight ever ta be beheld by me grizzled mortal eyes:
HOLY SWEET JESUS! When people opened this can, the theme from Phantom of the Opera should've been heard in the clouds as an accompaniment. Suffice to say, Father Time hasn't been kind to my can of Pac-Man Pasta in Golden Chicken Sauce. All of the Pac-shaped macaroni pieces have expanded to twice their normal size, and are now able to spread the bubonic plague. The sauce is indeed golden, and indeed chickenish. As a special unadvertised bonus, there's even floating pieces of dark meat chicken swarming around the bowl. Only now, they look more like earthworms.
By the way, I'm not sure if any of you have ever had the opportunity to smell fifteen-year-old cans of chicken byproducts, but if you haven't, just picture waking up one morning fit nice and snug inside a dead horse's rectum. This ends our story. Pac-Man Cereal and Pac-Man Pasta are gone, and will likely not return. We still have the memories, I've got the bubonic plague. Thanks and goodnight.