eBay is a hell of a drug.
Let’s back up.
A few months back, I heard about an interesting tome called The Great American Cereal Book. I ordered it as soon as it became available because I love any sort of weird or highly specific pop culture ephemera. The book is great. I even felt compelled to write a review of it on my infrequently updated and oft-forgotten about catchall side blog.
While the old timey 19th century cereals were fun to thumb through, for me, the real gold came in the section dedicated to the years between 1981 and 2010. That is where all of the TV and movie tie-in cereals got to shine in all of their marshmallowy, sugar-coated glory.
Flipping through the book one late evening, iPhone in hand, I started perusing eBay listings for some of the cereal boxes featured in the book. I noticed a few listings for unopened cereal boxes! Recalibrating my search formula, I added “unopened.” Then I filtered out “Wheaties” because I could give a Care Bear’s stitched butt crack about professional athletes.
I learned some things through my new search query:
#1 I want to start collecting cereal boxes.
#2 People have no idea as to the value of things.
#3 I think my mom held too much purchasing power in my home, and as a result, I feel I squandered my prime childhood cereal eating opportunities.
I thought to myself, “Gentlemen! Let’s broaden our minds.” I decided I needed a box of old cereal to eat for the blog. Then I quickly became lost in a fantasy about a series of escalating vintage cereal reviews involving my fellow junk food bloggers that would ultimately end in one of our deaths. No that’s not a dare. It’s a double dare!
I saw a few boxes from the 80s that were totally awesome and that I would have LOVED to own, but I just couldn’t bring myself to spend hundreds of dollars for them…yet. If anyone would like to discuss an Indecent Proposal style trade of some kind, I am up for anything (anything).
I settled on this box of Batman cereal (featuring a creepy sticker-faced plastic coin bank) from the 1989 Tim Burton movie. It was made my Ralston, who was the undisputed king of pop culture cereal stuffs (Ghostbusters, Transformers, Bill & Ted, and Urkel-Os to name a few). The Great American Cereal Book lists the production years of this cereal from between 1989 and 1991. We’ll date it to 1990 just to be fair.
My wife, ever the buzzkill and The-Sky-Is-Falling-ite, told me I would probably die if ate 22-year-old cereal. I gave her a rousing speech about tyranny and freedom (not unlike Mel Gibson in Braveheart). Then I did a little research and concluded that if the cereal was kept adequately dry, I’d probably be ok.
When the box arrived, everything looked great. There was no visible damage and the whole thing was sealed in shrink-wrap to keep the bank attached. I love the design work (including the origin story that runs down one side). Who doesn’t have fond memories of that bat symbol? It was everywhere. The box is an awesome artifact.
So how does Batman cereal hold up after 22 years? Just like its film counterpart, it’s a little dated.
I was hoping for some kind of honey nut aroma remnants upon opening the bag. Sadly, the villain in this issue is The Plastic. He has taken over virtually all of Gotham. The thick plastic inner bag held up perfectly (take that Earth!) and did a great job of keeping the cereal dry and crisp, but the air inside was thick with chemicals. And not the kind that would put a cool maniacal smile on your face.
The Plastic co-opted the cereal’s taste as well. It laid waste to all of the little yellow multigrain bat symbols.
You can taste the sweetness, but the original honey nut flavor is barely recognizable. It’s there, but it’s not worth diving into this vat of toxins to get to. The plastic tang is quite powerful and lingered in my mouth for quite a while until I was able to defeat it with a little help from the always helpful sidekick, A Spoonful of Peanut Butter (Jif Wonder?).
I added a little milk and things only got worse. Giving The Plastic a liquid assault vehicle with which to wreak havoc was a bad idea. It sort of felt like suckling on the end of a caulking gun. I stopped after a few bites, as I was convinced I could feel the bat days being torn from the end of my bat life.
I can’t say I am surprised by the outcome, but deep down, I was really holding out hope. Think of the cereal experiences that would have been opened up if this experiment had worked! But once again, we must wait patiently for the invention of time travel to enjoy our favorite things. I mean I’d stop all the wars and stuff, too. I’d just eat the cereal after that. Probably.
Sadly, I guess it’s back to the storage shed and the pallet of High School Musical cereal I’ve been hording.
Have you ever danced with Zac Efron in the pale moonlight?