You might have said to yourself, “Self, you know you love that wonderful blueberry taste of Boo Berry cereal and you love that great strawberry taste of Franken Berry cereal, but man, you also really love the flavors of raspberry and grape, couldn’t there be cereals with those flavors too?”. If you had said that, and truly so many of us kids did love those flavors, you might have thought somebody at General Mills, the makers of those fruity marshmallow wonderful monster cereals, would have thought that too. Well apparently, they did.
You see back in 1972 while Franken Berry was doing well on the shelves and Boo Berry was in the planning stages, General Mills did in fact, release their versions of grape and raspberry cereals. Unfortunately for those of you like me, who love those two flavors, if you blinked, you may have missed them. I actually didn’t blink and I didn’t miss them but they just weren’t around long enough to have their flavors stuck in the portion of my brain that keeps track of tastes and smells. Their names and mascots on the other hand, despite being around such a short time, have burned themselves into my memory.
General Mills went back to the tried and true idea of making two mascots that competed against one another and ended up selling both their cereals. It was working for Count Chocula and Franken Berry so they came up with a new pairing to match with the flavors of berry and grape. This time, instead of thinking of something kids love like monsters, they came up with that out of the box idea to make them World War I flying aces. Outside of Snoopy’s dream sequence that was so popular in the Peanuts Halloween special and the related comic strips and merchandise, and I guess Dastardly and Muttley, I cannot for the life of me remember many other successful cartoon characters that kids loved that would have inspired this idea. But, that’s what they came up with, and that’s what we got.
Considering the formula of having two characters pitted against one another it seemed natural enough I guess to have one be a British pilot and the other be a German pilot. All that was left was to connect the names with the flavors and voila! Baron Von Redberry and Sir Grapefellow were born! Unlike the corn base of the monster cereals, the flying aces cereals were oat based. I have no idea how this may have affected their flavor or popularity since I can’t remember the taste. I do know however that General Mills has made some tasty fruit flavored Cheerios over the years. The idea to put marshmallows in the cereal however was very much like the monster cereals. Instead of calling them marbits like they did in Lucky Charms, because of their star shapes, they were referred to as starbits right on the package.
As far as the characters go they were pretty much designed in the style that was very popular of cartoon characters of the day. Like most cereal commercials then they were indistinguishable from our favorite Saturday morning shows. Each would come up with clever ways to stop the other in typical Wile E. Coyote fashion. Sir Grapefellow would suggest his cereal was the grapest, while Baron von Redberry would exclaim his cereal: “iz der berry goodest!”. I could not dig up voice credits for the two, but I would be surprised if Sir Goodfellow was not voiced by George S. Irving, whom we all remember as the narrator of the Underdog Show as well as the Heat Mizer in “The Year Without a Santa Claus”.
The premiums they offered were pretty much the same as you’d expect with items like patches and iron-on transfers but they had a really nice offer for a set of balsa wood planes decked out with the mascots.
I’m not sure why there haven’t been that many attempts at grape or raspberry flavored cereals since then other than they must have been particularly large failures. We at least have the knowledge that they tried and the memory of those colorful WWI flying ace mascots.