It's probable that very few of you remember Bill & Ted's animated series, a short-lived flop that arrived between the two feature films in 1990. I say 'flop' only in the commercial sense - it seemed to gain quite a little following for itself, emphasis on 'little.' The first season used Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter for the voice-overs, while the second and final season featured over-the-counter artists and storylines that paled to the earlier episodes. The entire show was just a vehicle for the main characters to spew forth their 'not' jokes while doing that guitar pantomime thing. It wasn't pretty, and it's gone forever.
The show was around just long enough for Ralston to buy the rights and create a special limited edition cereal based on it -- and if you thought the cartoon wasn't pretty, wait till you get a load of this dog chow...
Toasted oat squares mixed with music note-shaped marshmallows might sound fine on paper, but as we'll see, the end result is far from any chart toppers on the breakfast menu. Still, the idea that Bill and Ted have their own cereal is pretty entertaining, a fact made all the more enthralling by the box's tagline: "a most awesome breakfast adventure." We've talked about Ralston at length in previous articles, but one thing I've just realized was their battle plan. Since they really didn't have many 'classic' cereals on their roster, they thus had a very small chunk of the overall market. It takes years and years to build up a brand capable of inspiring consumer loyalty, so why not go the faster route? They simply bought the rights to any kiddy fad that was selling for cheap enough, made the quick buck, and moved on.
Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I doubt many of you have even heard of Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal, so this one has to be considered a failure. Don't cry for Rufus, though -- this stuff didn't deserve success, and certainly, no honest and just person deserved to eat it. This was slop of the highest order...if you took Bill and Ted off of the box art, all you were left with was a bowl of the same shit people get out of the quarter machines at zoos to feed goats with.
It's sad when the most important meal of the day meets with such tragedy, but not so sad that I can't write about it or anything. Here's X-E's review of Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal, and the photographic evidence of its ineptness at being edible...
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Most cereals need a gimmick/giveaway to become adequate sellers. Bill & Ted's cereal needed two gimmicks. The first was a series of 'Hysterical Postcards' printed on the back of the boxes, featuring the characters hanging out with history's most famous and scribbling messages to the buying public in a cursive writing that seems one dotted-I too girly. I was left less than impressed with this particular offering, and would've preferred the quiet dignity of a 7x4" dog shit photo to a caricature of Alex Winter giving the Mona Lisa devil horns. Admittedly, I have a terrible sense of humor. Admittedly, too many of my sentences begin with the word 'admittedly.'
The cereal's other giveaway was far more eye-catching, but you'll have to wait a few minutes to see it. I like to build anticipation especially in cases where the payoff is negligible, so don't get your hopes too high. Besides, no free premium was going to save Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal. Take a look...
I think cereal is one of the rare 'real' foods where sheer attractiveness plays a major part - if the stuff's ugly, you're going to hate it even if it tastes good. In Bill and Ted's case, we got some pretty bad looking crapola. I've had a more magnified appetite while buying rabbit food, and I'm not even talking about the cool kinds of rabbit food like 'yogurt drops' or 'calcium waferdisc treat biscuits.' It's putrid on the eyes, and that's bad for the soul.
For a food based on something so upbeat as Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, it's also the blandest bunch of poison you could've received. Oat squares were much more Wilford Brimley than Keanu Reeves, and the amount of salvation sugar added could only be considered 'generous' by people from other planets who never got to experience sugar before. Now I know why they tried to cover up the bowl pictured on the front of the box with so many blocky teasers and notations about the net weight. Even with the note-shaped marshmallows, this shit still made Post's Fruit N' Fiber look like candy by comparison.
Obviously, this had to kill any chance of Ralston creating repeat buyers. By putting comical cartoon characters on a light blue box with playground buzzwords stamped all over it, they already destroyed their chances of nailing the older-than-twelve market. And really, nobody younger than that was ever gonna buy a box of square-shaped grain duck dropping twice. I smell trouble, and it smells a lot like processed oats.
So do crab claws dipped in the blood of recently murdered grandmothers. Try it out, I implore you.
When poured, the cereal's appeal doesn't improve in the slightest. Actually, it's even harder to look at now. It's sort of like mashing a bunch of Saltines in your hands and attempting to convince yourself that it's just made for a duet with milk, only a little more insulting since nobody ever implied that Saltines were cereal. Ralston clearly expects you to consider this crud as such, a presumptuous suggestion that does little to quell the rumors that Ralston's board of directions is entirely composed of neo-Mansonites wearing novelty 'I'm With Stupid' t-shirts. I'm not sure what that means really, but if I tried using a more direct approach in expressing my feelings about toasted oat Bill and Teddies, I'd surf towards expletives much too terrible to type.
I tried to read the nutritional label to see if it's at least good for you, but since this cereal's from 1990, they got away with using the older label without the convenient percentages. Now I'll never know if the cereal's zinc count is sufficient enough to get through the day.
You might've noticed that the advertised marshmallows appear to be missing. Look closer. They're there, but time hasn't been nice to 'em. What were once pleasantly puffed music notes of sweet goodness are now more reminiscent of Kibbles 'n Bitz, replacing 'great savory taste' with 'greatly stale rocks.' Using rubber-tipped tweezers and my own personal wealth of patience, I was determined to pluck a few of these beauties out from the sea of toasted oats. Here's a close-up...
We can't fault Ralston for the marshmallows' current appearance - no food company should have to worry about their products' singular longevity extending past the twelve-year mark. Still, I've opened more boxes of decades-old cereal than you might think, and Bill & Ted's is easily the least intact. Even my cats turned the stuff down, and these are the kinda cats that double as exterminators whenever we find an ant in the house. Indeed, this breakfast is a bogus journey pun Pun PUN! If there's going to be any saving grace, that second free premium had better be a good one.
Ralston was infamous for doing something a little different with their cereal premiums. Moreover, they did several things differently from their competitors. Because the cereals themselves usually sucked, Ralston took to offering premiums that were far larger in size than the norm. In fact, some of the giveaway toys were so big, Ralston couldn't even fit them into the boxes without leaving very little room for the actual food. Instead of making the items strictly of the mail-away variety, Ralston simply shrink-wrapped 'em right onto the boxes. It was a big plus for those of us who bought cereals based simply on what free gifts they came with. Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal didn't light my tongue on fire, but the material boy within me certainly got a kick out of what I'd get for enduring it...
A cassette tape case! Shaped like Bill and Ted's time travel phone booth! Able to withstand a payload of a whole three tapes! With a bonus sticker featuring cameo appearances that totally obscure the view of Bill's head! FA-REE! It wasn't enough to pull the allegedly excellent cereal out from the muck of pitiful sales and universal disinterest, but from the way I saw it, if anyone was gonna write an article on the stuff, it may as well be the idiot who still had a sealed box of it. So there you go, hope it was just as cathartic for you.