General Mills Unleashes All Five Classic Monster Cereals for Halloween 2013!

The return of Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy make 2013 the first year in history that all five General Mills monster breakfast cereals, including Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry, will be available to monster fans at the same time!

Greetings, Monster Fans, it’s the Phantom of the Ville coming to you from the breakfast nook of my secret crypt in Cave Hill Cemetery with what could possibly be the biggest news story of Halloween 2013. When the news hit the Internet last week that Halloween 2013 would mark the return of both Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy to cereal aisles across the United States, every monster loving ghoul of Generation X rose from his and her graves to do the Monster Mash!

The “breaking news” sirens at Louisville Halloween headquarters went berserk, and I was quickly pressed into service to get the whole story straight from Chocula Castle at the General Mills home office. Below you’ll find the complete interview with General Mills representative, Ari Zainuddin, but first let’s set the “way back machine” for 1971 and take a look at the history of the monster cereals.

The first two monster cereals, Count Chocula and Franken Berry, were both introduced in October 1971. They were both a big hit with monster loving kids, and Boo Berry was added to the monstrous trio in December 1972. Like Victor Frankenstein’s creation before him, Franken Berry garnered himself a bit of misunderstood infamy that same year when kids came down with a case of what would be called “Franken Berry Stool.” Many parents rushed their kids to local hospitals when they saw “blood” in their kid’s stool, just to find out that it was only the type of red dye used in the Franken Berry formula!

The original fruity flavored Fruit Brute the werewolf was introduced the following year in 1974 and was produced for 10 years until it was discontinued in 1984. In 1987, the same fruity cereal was re-named Yummy Mummy and was only produced until 1993, making it the most obscure of the monster cereals.

In recent years, General Mills have started a Halloween tradition of releasing Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry to store shelves each fall, limited to the Halloween season. Ever since Frute Brute appeared in a scene in Quentin Tarantino’sPulp Fiction” in 1994, fans have been requesting the return of the fruit flavored werewolf and his copycat brother, Yummy Mummy, to store shelves to complete the monster cereal bash. This season, their wish has been granted.

Not only will all five monster cereals be available everywhere this Halloween, starting in early September, but Target stores will be carrying EXCLUSIVE retro-art monster boxes with the monsters looking the same way they did when they were originally released. Of course, new formulas have been created for Frute Brute, who is now cherry flavored, and Yummy Mummy, who is now orange crème flavored, to avoid flavor redundancy.

This week, I spoke with General Mills representative, Ari Zainuddin, about the new promotion and everything monstrous in breakfast cereals.

Phantom of the Ville: First of all, on behalf of Halloween fans and fanatics everywhere, THANK YOU for bringing back all the Monster Cereals this season! When did you decide it was time to re-introduce the world to Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy? I know fans have wanted this for years! How long has this been in the works?

General Mills: Love and passion for the Monsters continues to grow each Halloween season. So we decided to bring back two of the most-requested Monsters Cereals ever—Yummy Mummy and Frute Brute. The response has just been fantastic. Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy fans are clearly pretty excited.

POTV: What are some of the more collectible Monster Cereal boxes? Are there any that are particularly rare and sought after?

GM: Well, we think all of the Monster cereal boxes are really fun and collectible. But the Frute Brute cereal box is really quite the collector’s item. It is said to be the most sought-after vintage cereal box on the market. But the original Monster cereal boxes are all pretty sought after among collectors.

POTV: Tell our readers one thing about any of the Monster Cereals and their history that nobody knows!

GM: The first images of Count Chocula were drawn by artist George Karn. (Editor: George Karn was a children’s book illustrator who also drew the first images of Trix the silly rabbit.)

POTV: What about toys and premiums? I have a Boo Berry bank I bought at the fondly remembered Tower Records. I know Funko has created a series of bobble heads and figures. Are the Monster Cereal characters still that popular?

GM: They most certainly are! Fans still collect Monsters Cereals-themed premiums – and there are fans who still dress as the Monsters for Halloween. Love for the monsters continues to grow and be celebrated!

POTV: Frute Brute, especially, has gotten a lot of nostalgic attention from its appearance in “Pulp Fiction.” How did this relationship with Quentin Tarantino come about?

GM: That’s a question that only Mr. Tarantino can really answer, but we’re clearly very appreciative of Mr. Tarantino’s affection for our Monsters cereal. Frute Brute has appeared in more than just “Pulp Fiction.” You can also see a Fruit Brute box in the background of “Reservoir Dogs.”

POTV: Are there any Monster Cereals that were “in the lab” over the years, but never released to the world? Any chance we’ll ever see a Cereal from the Black Lagoon, for example?

GM: In the lab, on the slab… some things must remain secret. Not all of our ideas were brought to life. But at this point, it’s just the Monsters that fans know & love – Count Chocula, Franken Berry, Boo Berry, Frute Brute & Fruity Yummy Mummy.

POTV: Paul Frees, who did the voice of Boo Berry in the cereal commercials, is one of the most famous voice-over artists of all time. He’s known to Halloween fans across the world as the voice of the Ghost Host in Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction. Do you know how General Mills was able to contract him to be the voice of a blueberry cereal ghost? Any Paul Frees stories you can share?

GM: Paul Frees was a fantastic talent, and his voice-overs are absolutely famous. His range and ability were amazing! What you may not know is that Paul’s work for General Mills was not limited to Boo Berry. He also worked on the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Green Giant – and animated characters like Boris from Rocky from the Bullwinkle show, which was sponsored by General Mills. The legend is that Paul was called on to loop dialogue for major movie actors when they weren’t available or a particular accent was needed, including such stars as Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre. It is Peter Lorre’s voice that Boo Berry’s vocal pattern is based on.

POTV: Do you know how the idea came about for a cereal based on Count Dracula in 1971? What was the attraction that General Mills had for the classic monsters at that time?

GM: Monster magazines, comic books, TV shows and model kits gave a whole new generation a popular interest in the monster genre in the late 60’s and 70’s. The classic Universal Monsters were suddenly appearing on licensed goods, and “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” were two popular shows on TV. Comic books started finding ways to introduce vampire and werewolf characters, and Wolf Man Jack was on the radio. With all this interest, the idea for Monsters cereals was a natural for General Mills.

POTV: I know that fans of my generation are going to go CRAZY for the Target Exclusive retro cereal boxes. How did that deal with Target come about?

GM: We had had a strong “retro box” event with Target that was great for Target and great for General Mills. So when we began looking to take our fall monsters event to the next level with retro boxes, a partnership with Target just made sense.

POTV: A few years ago at Target, perhaps coincidentally, I picked up a Halloween CD called “Spooky Sounds from Count Chocula Castle.” What can you tell us about that project?

GM: We produced a special CD in 2009 featuring Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry in what was a combination of a radio play and a Spooky sounds CD for Halloween parties. Our creative team of Pat Giles & Manny Galan (Patman Studios and Saatchi & Saatchi, NY) helped a company called Compass and music producer, Gjerbonn, produce the CD. It marked the first time the monsters had recorded a new CD in about 10 years. It also marked the first use of the new and current voice actors in the roles of Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry.

The Phantom of The Ville

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