Cereal Box Joy

June 23rd, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

“Kellogg’s Sugar Corn Pops. Sugar Pops are tops!

popsgunThat’s what we boomers heard, hundreds of times. Much has changed from the 1950s, not the least of which is that Kellogg’s dropped Sugar from the name.

Cereals also no longer have associations with cowboy heroes who could virtuously wound bad guys to keep others safe. More tangibly, prizes in the boxes or to be sent away for are neither common nor a big deal.

Those were simpler or perhaps simple-minded times.

This came to mind yesterday reading the annual predictions of brands likely to disappear in a year. Corn Pops is right there on the brand death watch, by 24/7 Wall St. Reasons included continued nutrition/additive concerns and soaring sugar prices.

I haven’t liked that cereal in a long, long time, turning to the occasional bittersweet chocolate piece for such thrills. Nor do I buy into the black hat/white hat simplicity of life. However, both were unquestionably big parts of my life. I think the latter actually set me up for accepting the cartoonish stereotypes of Ayn Rand characters in my teens. That’s easier than actually thinking and evaluating grays.

I did like my cap guns though. Sugar Pops delivered…for a fee.

As I recall, nearly all kid’s cereals came with a prize in or on the box. Those were small items of little value, such as miniature comics or lame plastic compass or tiny boat that took baking soda and tooled around the sink or tub for a few seconds before a refill.

The way I remember it, Sugar Pops offered the first prize I collected some box tops for and sent away with a shipping fee. My three modern sons have never understood any of that, including:

  • Love of Western TV and movies, even after seeing some of what I think are the best.
  • Begging for certain cereals for the prizes in the box or on offer.
  • Fantasy play that did not involve dungeon masters, rather cap guns and imaginary horses.
  • Waiting two or four weeks for a toy in the mail.

gunsAs an adult, I think owning guns is just looking for trouble and premature death. I know the stats on how many of us shoot, maim and kill friends and relatives, far greater than protecting home and our almighty stuff. Back then though, at six and eight and ten, realistic six-shooters were hot stuff. Most were also cap guns, that shot and advanced red rolls of harsh sounding, nasty smelling caps.

Back to my memory (feel free to fine-tune it with your own), I needed a couple of box tops and a quarter for Wild Bill Hickok’s pistol. The related stuff on the net looks like there was a similar offer for a bigger gun that required 50¢, but my deal was for a very small version with a fake pearl handle, one that shot a single cap at a time.

Wow, did it seem worth it…the money (I was already eating Sugar Pops, so the box tops were commodities), the wait and all.

It was pretty sturdy as I recall, hard metal, precision hammer that exploded the cap, and even plastic handle that was tightly riveted on and stayed put through a lad’s abuses.

There’s a cliché about simple pleasures being best. That may qualify.

The gun lasted throughout my use, although I stopped firing it a year or so after acquiring it. As with so much of my ephemeral treasurer — extensive butterfly collection, favorite childhood books, and toys — the pistol migrated to my niece and nephew.

My sister was kind enough to marry and have children long before I did. That quickly eliminated questions about when I’d do either. Being an uncle is certainly a lot easier than raising your own kids. Spoil ’em and go home is the role of the former.

When I would hear that my nephew had destroyed or given away this or that, I didn’t mind or was pleased. Two generations getting joy from a toy is fine.


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