The Cereal Awakens
Posted on June 20 2016
Star Wars cereal tie-ins have been around since the early days. But back in the late 1970s, branded cereals with toy premiums were uncommon in most places, and the few countries that offered Star Wars cereal promotions in 1978-1979 were Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Fast forward to the release of The Force Awakens starting in late 2015, and these same four countries are back at it with cereal promotions for the latest chapter in the Star Wars saga. Today, Star Wars is a global phenomenon and The Force Awakens cereal promotions were found in: Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Belgium, Hungary, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Pakistan, Thailand, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Switzerland, Turkey, North Africa, Italy, the Middle East, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Estonia, Germany, Austria, Taiwan, The Philippines, Kazakhstan, Slovenia, Croatia, and the entire Caribbean and Central American regions. Every inhabited continent on Earth had a Star Wars cereal promotion during the past year, and my worldwide network of Star Wars collecting pals has never been busier finding these gems in their local supermarkets!
General Mills, no stranger to Star Wars cereal promotions as the first licensee to ever offer Star Wars cereals in 1978, introduced a new set of Star Wars-themed cereals in early 2015 in the buildup to The Force Awakens. This marshmallow Star Wars cereal was updated later in the year for the upcoming film with three different character fronts: BB-8, Kylo Ren, and R2-D2. There were multiple variations of these boxes with different cutout out posters on the back and even a Star Wars Celebration sweepstakes. General Mills also offered Star Wars premiums on their classic cereals: Cheerios, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cookie Crisp, Honey Nut Cheerios, Trix, Multi-Grain Cheerios, and Reese’s Puffs. The box fronts of several of these featured General Mills cereal characters in Star Wars dress, like the Trix rabbit as Princess Leia. One of the more interesting premiums was a set of six droid viewers in specially marked boxes and a seventh chase BB-8 droid viewer, only available in a Target exclusive version of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
In Canada, the cereal licensee was Post, which offered seven different cereal boxes with Star Wars characters on the front, such as Captain Phasma on Shreddies and Kylo Ren on Honeycomb. The Post cereals didn’t feature any sort of Star Wars premium as the boxes themselves were designed to be collectible and even numbered for fans to track the whole set.
The largest worldwide promotion came from Nestlé, which offered a standard set of Star Wars premiums in Nestlé-branded cereals sold in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Some boxes came with Star Wars digital comics where a code found on the cereal box could be used to unlock a digital comic series found online on the Nestlé website. Other boxes came bundled with one of four different Star Wars pencil toppers: Chewbacca, Stormtrooper, C-3PO, and BB-8. This exact set of premiums was offered throughout the world.
Although the premiums were common, the artwork, cereal brands, and imagery used on the varied substantially from country to country. For instance, one of the Koko Krunch cereal boxes in Thailand had an image of a large First Order TIE Fighter bursting out of the front. Russia received a mix of well known global cereal brands such as Cookie Crisp and a local favorite, Kosmostars cereal. These cereals and two varieties of Nesquik were also available in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Mongolia. Other countries offering unique Nestlé brands for The Force Awakens promotion included Bar One cereal in South Africa, Nestlé’s Crunch in Greece, and Chokella in France.
Regions that typically don’t see many Star Wars cereal releases include the Middle East and North Africa where cereals such as Lion, Cheerios, and Nesquik were sold in dozens of countries with the fronts of the boxes printed in both English and Arabic. Some Nestlé cereals were printed in multiple languages, such as Cini Minis available in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Star Wars cereals available in Central America and the Caribbean were printed on bilingual boxes with English and Spanish and the weights shown in both metric and Imperial units.
In some countries, cereal boxes aren’t even common at all, and cereal is more commonly found in bags. For instance, in Poland, Romania, and Slovakia, the Star Wars pencil topper premium was available in specially marked bags of Chocapic, Cini Minis, Cookie Crisp, Honey Cheerios, Lion, and Nesquik. Similarly in Turkey, various flavors of Nesquik cereal bags came with a Star Wars theater ticket offer. Perhaps the most unusual premium of all was the Star Wars cereal bowl that came shrink wrapped to boxes of Chocapic cereal sold in Colombia. Through cereal merchandising for The Force Awakens, we now have tangible (breakfast-table) proof that Star Wars is truly a phenomenon across the entire world.
Gus Lopez is a Star Wars collector based in Seattle who specializes in rare and obscure Star Wars collectibles. Gus created The Star Wars Collectors Archive (theswca.com) in 1994, the first Star Wars collecting website on the Internet.