Written/Created by: Matt
Originally posted on 1/19/03.

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Indubitably delicious? Maybe not, but Crispy Critters sure were a welcome change from the Great Cereal Dry Spell of 1987. It was a bad year for breakfast, with virtually no new mascots for kids to latch on to, no crazy new raspberry blue rice puffs, not even one single interesting free toy. With the lack of competition and new contenders, the usual cereal champs began resting on their laurels. It was the same old thing followed by the oh that again. For those of us involved in the secret society of cereal popularity betting, these were pretty boring times. Then, very much out of nowhere, a new conqueror started piling his boxes of fortified corn rocks in Aisle 17. Nobody knew who he was or how far his moral values extended, but when you saw somebody like this, you knew you had to pay attention.

What is he? Nobody's really sure. The mystery creature looked cute and cuddly enough, but he narrated this commercial using a voice eerily reminiscent of Jimmy Durante, complete with cha cha chas. Our collective curiosity was piqued. One moment we were watching our favorite television shows, and the next thing we knew, our entire world was turned upside-down by way of an advertisement featuring an alien puppet screaming at us despite his apparently severe case of laryngitis.

As things turned out, this alien - this thing - was here to fix the doldrums and make the world of cereal a whole lot more interesting. For you see, this fuzzy beast was the official spokesperson for Post's Crispy Critters. It was a cereal unlike any other, so it made sense to promote it using the world's freakiest and most unique Muppet. Appropriately named 'Crispy,' this monster didn't arrive on the scene alone. No, Crispy had plenty of help...

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Flanked by an army of mini-sized zoo animals of a peachish hue, Crispy came more than prepared to claim his stake in the saturated market of breakfast cereals. Post had attempted to market Crispy Critters decades ago, but it wasn't immensely successful back then. See, they previously used mascots like cartoon lions and a giant orange moose to handle their promotion. A moose and a lion, truth be told, just aren't all that groundbreaking. And they're certainly not the kind of cartoon animals that people are lining up to see. So when they decided to bring the cereal back in '87, a lot of thought went into who would do the talking. Say what you will, but nothing commands attention quite like a naked, furry alien complete with pompom antennae.

Okay, here we go - this is the real test. How will the kid take to the new cereal? I mean, Post would have some serious egg on their face if the kid in their own commercial likened Crispy Critters to cow vomit. That would do pretty irrevocable damage to the public stance on their product. And this kid, let me tell ya. This kid don't pull no punches. He ain't gonna shill for Post unless that's a damn fine cereal. He takes his career as a breakfast commercial star to heart, and refuses to cash in his dignity for a few bucks and the chance to hang out with Alf's cousin. It's a job, yes, but it's a job he approaches with complete honesty and truism. There will be no faked emotions, no falsified smiles. Crispy the Alien really has his work cut out for him here.

Before we get to the cereal itself, I should mention that Post went the whole nine yards with this one. The commercial, obviously, was way too odd and interesting to go unnoticed. Kids are way more likely to listen to puppets than humans, and this ad was chock full of those things. Even the box itself was an attention grabber, placing the cute monster on a glossy silver background. You couldn't pass the box in supermarkets without feeling just a slight bit curious. Everyone had seen the usual suspects like the Trix Rabbit and the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee so many times - we were pretty desensitized to those guys. But an alien rolling around on a sterling silver box? It was different, and certainly effective. I usually wouldn't touch a breakfast bowl unless it was packed with marshmallows or some other puffy candy, but I had to make an exception for this one. You might think it's silly to pick a cereal based purely on how good the box looks, but I used to eat cardboard as a kid, so in a roundabout way, it almost makes sense. Now, let's see the goods...

Ah, there's the problem. If you were wondering why Crispy Critters are a thing of the past, look no further. For all intents, the cereal was made up of miniature animal crackers, the same as their larger counterparts both in taste and texture. Now I've got nothing but love for animal crackers, but when you're referring to several hundred animal crackers thrown recklessly into a bowl of milk, a few problems present themselves. There's a reason normal boxes of these snacks are kept small, folks. Everyone enjoys a good animal cracker every now and then, but by the time you get to the sixth or seventh cookie, the taste just completely turns the tables on your throat and you're faced with the grim reality that animal crackers ain't all that good. They're dry, nearly flavorless, and if they weren't shaped like zebras, they wouldn't have a single redeemable quality whatsoever.

It was the same thing with Crispy Critters. You got home, you opened the box, you ate a handful, and everything seemed a-okay. You didn't find the taste to be heaven on Earth or anything, but it wasn't terribly offensive either. But! Once you delved deep into the fiery pits of Hades and attempted to eat an entire bowl of this stuff, even the tapeworms in your stomach became anorexic. It was too much - too much animal crackery goodness. It had to stop, and it had to stop soon. Sensing trouble with the success of his commercial, Crispy the Alien opted for a different route. He knew that kid was gonna start upchucking half-eaten panda cookies if something wasn't done quick. Since the kid had such high moral virtues and wouldn't take the initiative to peddle slop on his own, maybe he just needed a few well-placed bribes and death threats.

What's Crispy whispering into this poor child's ear, you ask? Don't be naive. He's obviously telling him to 'make with the smiles' before the kid ends up with broken glass shoved into his eye sockets. Anyone can see that. Notice the nervous and methodical way little Jimmy eats the cereal. He knows what terrors await if he doesn't start the hard sell. There's an awful truth here - Crispy looks the part of a good-natured and friendly space creature, but underneath it all, he's 100% Russian Mafioso. Post should be ashamed.

It's not over yet, though. Taking a page from Marketing For Dummies, Crispy realized that his cereal wouldn't bring in the dough unless he came up with a catchphrase to promote it. "Eat it or I'll kill you" might've worked wonders on poor Jimmy, but I doubt the rest of the world would buy into that. It's not like Crispy has the time or frequent flier miles to travel around the world threatening every kid who would've rather eaten Froot Loops. He needs to go down a safer, more lovey dovey route. So what would this hot new catchphrase be? Well, when in doubt, just confuse your customers into submission by using words they don't understand:


Yes, Crispy Critters are indubitably delicious, or so says the flock of incredibly odd rhinos and deer shown in the commercial. Honestly, watching this proves to be a pretty surreal experience. I knew something was a tad off when the coarse-voiced alien starting hopping up and down in some kid's kitchen, but I never expected it to completely degenerate into the stoner's mystery theater. I really believe they were attempting to shock the public at large into buying the cereal, and by God, it's a gorgeous battle plan. They could've been selling bracelets made from horsehair and it still would've worked. This whole setup is too unforgivably weird to ignore.

The challenge, however, will be getting little Jimmy to say the catchphrase. This kid is young, perhaps a little too young to properly enunciate a word with so many letters. But for Crispy Critters to succeed, he needs to say it. The world will not believe that this shit is indubitably delicious unless someone from their own species confirms it. The weight of Post's profit margin rests solely on his scrawny shoulders. Considering the nature of these creatures who've captured him, I'd say it's in Jimmy's best interest to recite the catchphrase completely free of stutters and hesitance.

Crispy: Say it kid. Say 'it's indubitably delicious.' Right now.
Jimmy: I can't say it! I can't pronounce that word!
Crispy: Say it or I'll kill your parents.
Jimmy: But Crispy, I don't know how! Please don't kill my mom!
Crispy: If you don't start throwing fifty-cent words at that cameraman over there, I'm gonna take you into the back room and show you what it's like to fit sneakers into your asshole.
Jimmy: WHAT?!
Crispy: Hmm. Too far?
Jimmy: Yeah, like way too far, Crispy.
Crispy: Fine, I won't shove sneakers in your ass. But I'll still kill your parents if you don't say it.
Jimmy: 'It's indubit....indubitle...induplable..."
Crispy: Do you want the sneaker threat to show it's face again?


It certainly is, little Jimmy. It most certainly is.

Unbeknownst to those hampered by seeing only what the camera chooses to show, Crispy holds his voodoo athame to Jimmy's back and threatens stab wounds if he doesn't charm the pants off America as a whole.

Crispy Critters, sadly, didn't last very long. You can dress up shit any way you like, but at the end of the day, it's still shit and nobody's gonna eat it. I think Crispy would've been better served peddling a cereal that wasn't flawed from the start, but now he's gone the way of the Dodo, never to be heard from again. Sometimes, late at night, I recite a silent prayer in my head, begging for Crispy's safety. After all, if he's not allowed to champion new cereals to the world, what the hell else is he supposed to do? There's a limited number of career options for furry aliens with solidified eyes. I know not where Crispy the Alien is today, but I hope he's doing well for himself. Crispy, you were a devil, but you were a cute devil. Please stay well. And try not to kill any more children, it's bad PR.

Click on the picture above to watch the original Crispy Critters commercial, or click here to see X-E's full list of over 50 ads waiting for you to download.


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