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11 Athletes Who Had Their Own Cereals

Plenty of athletes have adorned boxes of Wheaties. But only the best can take it a step further and market a brand of cereal dedicated entirely to themselves. Several athletes have used a limited edition cereal line to raise money for their favorite charities or boost their profiles -- here are 11 of the stars that managed to work their way onto the breakfast table

1. Flutie Flakes

Buffalo Bills quarterback Doug Flutie released his brand of corn flakes cereal in 1998 to raise money for autism awareness in honor of his son, who is autistic. The cereal ended up being a hit, selling more than 3 million boxes (Flutie eventually branched out into other foods, including a fruit snack called Flutie's Fruities). But the Flakes were also the center of controversy when then-Dolphins coach Jimmy Johnson used them to celebrate a playoff win over Flutie and the Buffalo Bills. Celebrating in the locker room, Johnson slammed a box of the cereal on the ground and let his players dance and stomp on the flakes. Flutie objected, saying it was akin to stomping on his son and got Johnson to publicly apologize.

2. Votto’s

This season, Cincinnati Reds fans will be able to share breakfast with team star – and 2010 National League MVP – Joey Votto, thanks to his new cereal, Votto’s. The cereal is being sold at Krogers stores in the Cincinnati area. And the flavor? “It’s basically Cheerios,” said Votto at one promotional appearance, according to a report.

3. Fastball Flakes

With an eye towards breaking Flutie’s sales record, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander also announced this spring that he’ll be launching his own line of cereal. Verlander based the cereal on Frosted Flakes (his favorite cereal) and actually requested that the cereal be unhealthy because he likes to eat junk food before his starts. Despite his request, the cereal is fat-free.

4. Ochocinco’s

The toasted oat cereal honoring then-Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (formerly Chad Johnson) isn’t much remembered for its taste or nutritional value. Instead, the legacy of Ochocinco’s will be its accidental endorsement of a phone sex line. A phone number printed on the box was supposed to send shoppers to the main line of Feed The Children, the charity benefiting from the cereal sales. But manufacturers put the wrong prefix on the number and instead printed the bawdy number. When news of the accident broke, Ochocinco took to Twitter to say he was “bummed” about the mixup and asked “of all numbers why that one!!!”

5. Eckso’s

Eckso’s were not named after Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley, but instead journeyman David Eckstein. Having won a World Series with the Angels and a second with the St. Louis Cardinals, Eckstein was a fan favorite for his scrappy play. That led to his cereal line in 2005 -- a brand of honey nut toasted oat O’s similar to Votto’s and Ochocinco’s.

6. Tommy Gun Flakes

After wandering around the NFL for years and playing in the Arena Football League and XFL, Tommy Maddox resurfaced with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001. He led the Steelers to the playoffs that year, amassing a 10-5-1 record. After that season, he was also rewarded with the launch of Tommy Gun Flakes, a play on his nickname "Tommy Gun." Maddox had a disappointing 2002 season and was soon replaced by Ben Roethlisberger, but unopened boxes of his cereal can still be found online.

7. TO’s

Before he and Ochocinco teamed up for a season in Cincinnati, Terrell Owens actually mirrored him by launching his own cereal brand. The TO’s brand came out when TO joined the Buffalo Bills in the 2009 season and features a rather cryptic picture of TO flexing his bicep around a blown-up piece of cereal.

8. Warner’s Crunch Time

While with the St. Louis Rams, Kurt Warner was a part of the Greatest Show on Turf, winning two MVP awards and a Super Bowl. His rise from the Arena Football League and ascension from backup to starting star also made him a hit with fans. To capitalize, Warner put his face on a frosted corn flakes cereal called “Warner’s Crunch Time,” with proceeds going to Camp Barnabas, a Missouri camp for disabled children.

9. Buckeye HerOes

Coming off a successful 10-2 season in which they shared the Big Ten championship and won the Fiesta Bowl, the Ohio State Buckeyes expanded their already massive brand with the cereal Buckeye HerOes. Other universities had tried the cereal gimmick before, but OSU dwarfed their efforts by producing 75,000 boxes. School officials said they couldn’t get the cereal to be in the shape of the school’s traditional block O, so instead they had to go with the traditional round O. The school has also branded several other food items from pasta to hot sauce, so it's possible for a fan to plan an entire meal around the Buckeyes.

10. Ed's End Zone O's

A three-time Super Bowl winner, wide receiver Ed McCaffrey had most of his success when paired with John Elway on the Denver Broncos. While with the team, he also released his cereal brand: Ed’s End Zone O’s, as well as putting his face on a line of gourmet mustards and a horseradish sauce. Elway would also come out with a cereal line: John Elway's Comeback Crunch.

11. Lynn Swann’s Super 88

Named after his jersey number, Lynn Swann’s Super 88 cereal was released to honor the former Steelers star on his induction to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2001. The proceeds from the cereal went to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters charities, as well as to fund scholarships to the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. Why the ballet scholarships? Swann used to study dance.

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Big Questions
Why Do the Lions and Cowboys Always Play on Thanksgiving?
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Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Because it's tradition! But how did this tradition begin?

Every year since 1934, the Detroit Lions have taken the field for a Thanksgiving game, no matter how bad their record has been. It all goes back to when the Lions were still a fairly young franchise. The team started in 1929 in Portsmouth, Ohio, as the Spartans. Portsmouth, while surely a lovely town, wasn't quite big enough to support a pro team in the young NFL. Detroit radio station owner George A. Richards bought the Spartans and moved the team to Detroit in 1934.

Although Richards's new squad was a solid team, they were playing second fiddle in Detroit to the Hank Greenberg-led Tigers, who had gone 101-53 to win the 1934 American League Pennant. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw for a game was a relatively paltry 15,000. Desperate for a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its fledgling football franchise, Richards hit on the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards's WJR was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he had considerable clout with his network and convinced NBC to broadcast a Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide.

The move worked brilliantly. The undefeated Chicago Bears rolled into town as defending NFL champions, and since the Lions had only one loss, the winner of the first Thanksgiving game would take the NFL's Western Division. The Lions not only sold out their 26,000-seat stadium, they also had to turn fans away at the gate. Even though the juggernaut Bears won that game, the tradition took hold, and the Lions have been playing on Thanksgiving ever since.

This year, the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings.

HOW 'BOUT THEM COWBOYS?


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The Cowboys, too, jumped on the opportunity to play on Thanksgiving as an extra little bump for their popularity. When the chance to take the field on Thanksgiving arose in 1966, it might not have been a huge benefit for the Cowboys. Sure, the Lions had filled their stadium for their Thanksgiving games, but that was no assurance that Texans would warm to holiday football so quickly.

Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm, though, was something of a marketing genius; among his other achievements was the creation of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

Schramm saw the Thanksgiving Day game as a great way to get the team some national publicity even as it struggled under young head coach Tom Landry. Schramm signed the Cowboys up for the game even though the NFL was worried that the fans might just not show up—the league guaranteed the team a certain gate revenue in case nobody bought tickets. But the fans showed up in droves, and the team broke its attendance record as 80,259 crammed into the Cotton Bowl. The Cowboys beat the Cleveland Browns 26-14 that day, and a second Thanksgiving pigskin tradition caught hold. Since 1966, the Cowboys have missed having Thanksgiving games only twice.

Dallas will take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday.

WHAT'S WITH THE NIGHT GAME?


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In 2006, because 6-plus hours of holiday football was not sufficient, the NFL added a third game to the Thanksgiving lineup. This game is not assigned to a specific franchise—this year, the Washington Redskins will welcome the New York Giants.

Re-running this 2008 article a few days before the games is our Thanksgiving tradition.

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History
Beyond Board Shorts: The Rich History of Hawaii's Surf Culture
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iStock

From Australia to the Arctic Circle, adrenaline junkies around the world love catching waves—but the very first people to develop surf culture were Hawaiians. Their version of the pastime shares both similarities and differences with the one that’s commonly practiced today, according to TED-Ed’s video below.

Surfing wasn’t just a sport in Hawaii—there were social and religious elements to it, too. Hawaiians made offerings to the gods while choosing trees for boards and prayed for waves. And like a high school cafeteria, the ocean was divided by social status, with certain surf breaks reserved solely for elite Hawaiians.

The surfboards themselves used by early Hawaiians largely resembled the ones we use today, although they were fin-less and required manual turns. Learn more about surfing’s roots and evolution (and how surf culture was nearly destroyed by foreign colonizers) by watching the video below.

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