Cereal premiums were virtually the only way to get kids to eat breakfast. A brilliant scheme cooked up by cereal companies and parents that brought them mass benefits: if the cereal companies gave us a toy, we'd eat their cereal. They'd make money. If there was a toy in the cereal, we'd eat cereal. Parents wouldn't have to go through the trouble of spelling out our initials in pancake batter.
Now, my parents were lenient. When I got the cereal box, the first thing that came out of it was the toy. But most of my friends had it rough - they had to actually eat their way to the toy, which was cleverly stuck at the bottom of the box. The end result? Whether we liked it or not, we were going to eat the alleged most important meal of the day.
Of course, kids were dumb. We heard the word 'toy' and we started cheering. Just because a cereal came with a toy didn't necessarily mean the toy was any good. There was only so many times you could get a free gooey spider to throw against the wall before it lost it's magic, but we still kept digging through those boxes of Count Chocula. After all, it was free.
But, on rare occasions, the toy would be worth the hassle. It didn't happen often, but once in awhile, a cereal offered us something that we actually did want. Now, if we went crazy trying to get things like stickers and little scented erasers, you can imagine the hysteria when a cereal included something substantial besides sugar and hay. As an example, the old C-3P0's cereal, which already had an advantage by being about Star Wars, gave out stickers. Only when you lifted the sticker, there was a trading card underneath! I likened getting one of these to winning the lottery, literally screaming bloody murder until I got a 'specially marked' box of the stupid cereal just so I could put the sticker inside a notebook I'd never look at again.
Trix was smart. Instead of competing with all the other cereals over who gave out the best pencil topper, they went all out and did a toyline crossover promotion with the then-popular vehicle/figure line known as Mask. Now, Trix already had fruity flavors and a silly rabbit. Two elements which made kids scream in delight. Throwing Mask into the mix basically guaranteed a soaring sales increase of at least, oh, 400%.
Let's take a look at how the action unfolded. Cereals didn't have the luxury of their own cartoon shows, so the only way they could advertise their latest scams was by putting commercials in between Cobra Commander's laughing fit, and Duke's growing worries over Cobra Commander's laughing fit.
Ah, that goofy hare's at it again, this time disguising himself as a news reporter. Of course, the kids who ate Trix in front of tv cameras were universally stupid. All these times they'd get tricked by the rabbit, never once realizing that all they had to do was avoid any cartoon that walked up to them. I mean, it was always the rabbit. There weren't all these other cartoons hopping around. But every time, the rabbit had to lose his masterful disguise consisting of a hat to be found out.
See? Idiots! Friggin idiots! Without even the slightest questioning, the stupid little girl offers up her sacred Trix, knowing full well that what the rules are: Trix are for kids! Little girl, stupid little girl, even if that was a news reporter...how many news reporters are kids?!
But the kids aren't the only idiots in these commercials. The rabbit has a problem too - he never learns from his past mistakes. You'd think that after all these false finishes, the first thing he'd do when getting his hands on the box is stick his tongue in it, but no! He goes into a fucking trance with lemons and grapes swirling around his head for five minutes. Now, I'm not going to argue the magnitude of the fruity goodness of the cereal, but I think the rabbit could at least contain his excitement until he at least gets a taste. As always, that's his downfall.
The hat comes off, and his plot is foiled again! Man, the kids in these commercials were bastards. We all know they're just selfish, greedy fucks, but they play the whole 'for kids!' thing so they don't have to share their Trix. I'll bet you five dollars that if you sent a normal kid up to them, they'll still hoard the Trix like little evil squirrels in the wintertime.
It's a damn shame that the rabbit is only allowed to eat a bowl of Trix during Christmas commercials, but we'll talk about that some other time. Now the commercial switches gears to pitch their latest and greatest special free premium...
The kids are in heaven. They've got Trix in their laps and Mask on the television set. There's something very Tao about that, I just can't put my finger on it. Needless to say, this was every child's idea of Babylon. The only way it could possibly get any better was if, somehow, Mask could be incorporated into the cereal. Enter: THE MAGIC MASK RING!
Oh. Hell. Yeah. Not just Mask, and not just a ring. A magic ring. A magic oversized ring with morphing powers! One of the greatest fads of the 80s was convincing people that this little trick meant the ring had holographic powers. But that's not important - these rings didn't just have the Mask logo, they had images that would alternate as you moved your hand! You know what that means, right? Insant popularity at school.
Hmm. That's pretty odd. Doesn't look like the same hand from the other pictures. Or the same ring. Well, that makes sense since there's five different rings available! That means that little kids were eating entirely too much Trix for the few weeks this promotion was going on. Smart move by General Mills. By the time they switched back to their usual premium, 30 cent off coupons, the kids would be so addicted to Trix that nothing could keep them from it.
Remember kids, only specially marked boxes of Trix contain the spectacular Mask ring. I really want to know who coined the 'specially marked box' phrase. It seems to have become public domain in the world of cereals, but someone had to dream it up.
The commercial ends there, sending a stream of little kids with rings on the brain to grocery stores with evil intentions. In bad scenarios, the cereal you were after would be sold out. To a kid, this was like finding out you had terminal cancer. There were times this happened to me, and somehow, I always found a way to blame my mother. 'Had to check the rearview before you started driving, didn't you?!?!?' And while it's always great to play the blame game, nothing could make up for losing a free toy. So the next time you see the Trix rabbit peddling a cool toy, make sure you haul ass to the local grocer before it's too late.
Click here to hear the original commercial in all it's glory! See if the Trix Rabbit's voice has aged in the past decade!
PS - Tigers.