The First Cereal Box Prize Ever

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Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has been gracing breakfast tables since 1906 - and the idea of hiding prizes within the box of crunchy corn bits is almost as old.

Kellogg’s was the first company to offer children’s prizes with the purchase of their cereal in an attempt to appeal to the younger set. Doing something so whimsical was a far cry from the product’s origins - Dr. John Harvey Kellogg rather accidentally created the flakes when experimenting with bland food that wouldn’t inspire feelings of excitement in the patients at his Battle Creek Sanitarium. When the cereal ended up being quite popular, the Kelloggs decided to put some money into the breakfast industry.

Offered in 1909, the first prize wasn’t like today’s trinkets wrapped in plastic and buried in a mound of sugary dust. It was more like a mail-in rebate offer: cereal aficionados who purchased two boxes (or more) of the relatively new Corn Flakes cereal could send away to receive a book called The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book. Though the offer started out free with purchase, the company eventually started charging a dime for the little book. Though 10 cents may have been a steep price back in the early 1900s, it certainly would have been a good investment: a decent copy of The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book currently sells for around $60. It’s not like it’s going to pay off your house or anything, but it’s quite the increase.

By the way, if you see a few versions of the book, there’s good reason for it - Kellogg’s offered this promotion for a whopping 23 years. It’s estimated that more than 2.5 million copies of the book went out over nearly a quarter of a century.

Do you remember making your mom buy you a certain box of cereal because you desperately wanted the prize inside? What was the cereal and what was the prize?

October 6, 2011 - 10:00am
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