Last week we reviewed Bill & Ted's Excellent Cereal, an interestingly crafted forage into the world of zoo crackers and sugary music notes. Made by those licensing loving bastards at Ralston, the company put out an even stranger breakfast title merely a year earlier. Batman Cereal arrived at the height of the first movie's reign, siphoning a great deal of its popularity to create huge sales and massive kiddie interest. Batman had been galavanting for decades, but his shit never smelled sweeter than it did in 1989.
There's the box, in case anyone mistook the photo above for, I don't know, a car or a yacht or something. The real coup was the sleek, black box -- indeed, in terms of packaging, this was the coolest cereal in Aisle 12. This was a perfect situation for me. I was a little over ten-years-old when Batman came out, and had just begun getting all those shameful feelings whenever I did something that seemed 'too childlike.' I'd often recall a situation where the fattest girl in my 4th grade class berated me for wearing a Ninja Turtles Burger King pin, with great remorse. Batman Cereal's stylish box helped me skirt any further embarrassment, since black is perpetually chic and delicious. It became my #1 choice by default. Or is that proxy? Ah, who cares...stuff tasted like shit. My goal is to end every paragraph with a reference to shit.
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The commercial was suitably ominous, mixing movie footage with some shots of Batman Cereal perfectly presented in what I guess was supposed to be the Batcave. Batcaves look suspiciously like piles of cardboard in cereal ads, but the grievance didn't keep me from hoping for a cameo appearance by Alfred. God, it would've been terrific. I've always been of the mind that Alfred could make anything better, and this commercial was really calling for his help. I can see it now... "Batman Cereal, by Ralston. Like vichyssoise, it's supposed to be cold!"
It plays out a lot better in my head than in print.
Having reviewed roughly 4,288,566 commercial spots here on the site, I must say, Batman really skimped out on us for this one. You only get to see the caped crusader for a nanosecond, and even then it's just the same standard shots from the trillions of trailers. Hey, Bats, you need to keep up the appearances if you want kids to pay extra for batsignia-shaped Cap'n Crunch. Maybe I'm wrong, though -- Batman Cereal lasted a lot longer than most of Ralston's press release du jours, and would even pop up sporadically as the increasingly terrible Batman sequels hit theaters.
Well, there it is. A whole big huge gigantic 5,000 ounce bag of it. Something rarely noticed but plenty odd about this stuff: movie-themed cereals usually arrive in terminally small packages. I guess companies know that they're only going to be purchased based on the fad's limited zest, so why go for broke with the super-sized boxes? Batman Cereal comes in one of the biggest boxes I've ever seen, including boxes for microwaves and those boxes full of boxes people get for free from the post office. HUUUUUGE box. While huge boxes usually equate as a positive, this crud wasn't really my bag. If you didn't like Cap'n Crunch and its ability to Voorhees the fuck out of your throat's ceiling, you weren't gonna like Batman's cereal. I had to buy it anyway. Cool black box, you know how it is.
Anyway, it's pretty much a brick wall of yellow corn crap. The bag weighs more than my head, something I say with confidence despite never actually removing my head to weigh it.
Ah, gotta love those dated health issue crazes. 'No Tropical Oils.' I don't think this is a pertinent selling point these days; if Batman Cereal was a 2003 release, 'No Tropical Ephredra' would've been a little more on-target. They're right, though -- there's nothing oily or tropical about this cereal. The stark dryness of the stuff removes any chance of oil, and the stark boringness of the pieces themsleves removes any right to call it 'tropical.' I'm glad that it's been fortified with nine essential vitamins and minerals, but I wish one of them sprinkled Batman Cereal with prettier colors. I feel like I'm raiding a bird feeder with this junk.
There's a bowl, sans milk. I tried a handful of the cereal to see how well it aged, and this proved to be a mistake the likes of which I haven't experienced since the time I ate a dead millipede on very public dare. At first crunch, it seemed okay. Sugary, gruff, batish. Soon after, I felt the kind of nausea that could only be brought by decade-old cereal settle in, and resigned myself to a night full of Tums and a severe hatred of everything Batman.
When the cereal was still within the limits of its expiration date, it wasn't too offensive. Wasn't ever 'fun,' though. What's the point of getting a cereal that doesn't have 'good parts' for you to pluck out separately with the spoon? It's all yellow! It's all the same! It's all corn my brothers! It's not like Batman wasn't conductive to marshmallow shapes and a variety of Bat-themed puffed grains -- you've got the Batmobile, Batwing, Batarang -- hey wait, those all look the same anyway. My bad. Here's a close-up of the actual pieces...
Yes, they're bats. At least, I'm pretty sure they're bats. Could be the first cereal based on those hilarious goofy wax lips. The real test would be to see if someone who wasn't wise to Batman's cereal knew that these were supposed to be bats. Unfortunately, there ain't a single person alive interested enough in the results to perform such tests. Point is, it's Batman Cereal, but it's not Very Exciting Batman Cereal. I think we all know how Ralston could circumvent the potential downfalls of this. Free toys.
So, what'll it be this time? A snap-together 2" model of Batman's head? How about a small sheet of 'Bob the Goon' stickers? 'Batman: The Figural Eraser?' Vicki Vale paper dolls? No no no no, no! Ralston had something even better up their sleeve. Batman's all about fighting crime, but his true passion is helping kids grow up with the right set of morals. This extends all the way down to knowing how to finance properly. Since Batman isn't usually verbose enough to explain the merits of good investments and thrifty spending, he illustrated all of his points with a plastic bank shaped like his torso:
Yup, a Batman Bank. The thing came shrink-wrapped right onto the front of the box, so no kid could miss it. This was the type of premium that you absolutely could not pass up under any circumstances -- doesn't matter if you hated the cereal, doesn't matter if you hated all cereals. So rarely are we given Batman Banks for buying food, and it's not an opportunity to miss. Sure, the bank is made from the kind of plastic that melts in your hand if you had held a cup of warm coffee in the past twelve hours, but to wit, it's still a FREE BATMAN BANK. Saving money is fun, but saving money while pretending to intrude on Batman's intestinal track is doubly glorious. They even went for the trifecta -- there's a sticker on the back of the bank to send away for a free Batman night light. Christ, that one four-dollar purchase really set off a domino effect of Batty gifts. You get cereal, banks, lights, all wrapped in enough plastic bags and shrinkwrap to suffocate a puppy. Not that the last part's a selling point, but it seemed notable regardless.
Overall, I'm on the fence with this one. It's dependent on your point of view. If you're the kind of person who'll enjoy a crappy cereal if it's flashy enough and comes with free shit, you would've been more than pleased. Still, I can't help but think that some children must've been a little disappointed with Batman Cereal. It just didn't have that extra 'umpfghpghth' worthy of such a hero. I'd assume many kids sent letters in, and pray that a good percentage of these letters referenced the fact that the plastic bank's coin slot wouldn't allow passage to half-dollars. Really ticked my dick off.
Course, now that I've poured a big bowl of inedible, expired cereal, I'm not entirely sure what I should be doing with it. It feels so wrong to throw it away, and I've always considered putting cereal back into the box a crime along the same lines as murder. I guess it's staying in that bowl forever. I can't bring myself to throw it away. After all, I said I didn't like Batman Cereal's flavor -- I didn't call it trash.
Problem solved. Batman would be proud. Hopefully, so would Alfred. Commissioner Gordon's opinion has always been negligible in my opinion, so I'll settle for Bats and his old white manslave. Batman Cereal is long gone these days, and probably won't be seen again. Don't be too sad about it, though -- they made enough damn money off the guy. Plus, how else would we have gotten to see Schwarzenegger painted blue with a goldfish bowl covering his head? Three cheers for DC and poor director choices in the sequels! Three cheers for Batman!
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