Quisp Meteorite Ring

As a little kid in the 1960s my favorite breakfast serial was Quisp. It didn't taste quite as good as Cap'n Crunch, but the cereal pieces were shaped like little flying saucers and the mascot was a nerdy, mischievous pink alien with a propeller on its head. What could beat that? The television commercials for Quisp were entertaining, because they often featured Quisp's rival, an arrogant, cowboy-hat-wearing, subterranean jock named Quake, who had his own cereal, too. The two characters hated each other, and I hated Quake, too. I thought Quake cereal tasted horrible (though it was probably made from the same stuff Quisp was made from).

In those days, cereal boxes came with cool prizes: little plastic spaceman that slid onto your spoon handle, colorful characters that clung to your cereal bowl, miniature submarines that used baking powder to make them rise and fall in a bathtub. I had many of the cereal box prizes, but the one I was most excited about getting was a Quisp ring that had a clear plastic cylinder that housed a real meteorite. The top of the cylinder even had a small magnifying glass to examine the sample.

Unfortunately, General Mills played a dirty trick on me and other Quisp loyalists. They also made a Quake ring (which contained a piece of volcanic pumice) and there was no guarantee which ring you would get when you bought a box of Quisp.

As luck would have it, every box of Quisp my mother bought for me had the Quake ring in it. I was so disappointed in the Quake rings that I threw them away immediately. I did not want pumice. My cousin's parents had a fake oriental garden in their backyard with plastic bonsai trees "growing" out of a layer of artificially-colored pumice pebbles. Pumice held no mystery of the exotic for me. I wanted the otherworldly Quisp meteorite ring. My mother sympathized with me and sometimes bought two boxes of Quisp at a time, but she drew the line at throwing the uneaten boxes away to make shelf space for new boxes. I even tried counter-logic, buying a box of Quake to see if it might have a Quisp ring in it. When I pulled out yet another pumice ring from the bottom of the cereal, the visage of Quake on the box taunted me with a simian leer.

I never did get the Quisp ring. My theory at the time (and now) is that meteorites are much rarer and more expensive than pumice (no one spreads meteorites in their yard), so the overwhelming majority of rings given away by General Mills were Quake rings.

It is very difficult to find a Quisp meteorite ring for sale today. In fact, most 1960s-era Quisp cereal prizes are very expensive, considering they are tiny and made from plastic. For instance, the Quisp flying saucer model kit (which you had to send in for) goes for hundreds of dollars on eBay. Quisp space disc whistle rings sell for $75 to $90 on eBay, and the incredible Quisp space gun ring, which fires tiny rockets, goes for $110.

It's a shame that cereal boxes don't contain cool prizes any longer. The colorful trinkets brought me a great deal of joy as a child, and consumed an inordinate amount of my mental activity. Take a look at the "Crazy Rings" that Quaker Puffed Wheat offered for $.25 and one box top. You would receive all 10 rings for that price: a siren ring, a pencil sharpener ring, two puzzle rings, a water pistol ring, a ship-in-a-bottle ring, a whistle ring, a friendship ring, a meteorite ring, and a jingle bell ring. If I gave a box containing these 10 rings to my daughter she would be ecstatic for weeks.

If I ever get rich, I will start my own cereal company just so I can put cool prizes in the boxes.

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  1. I may be wrong (because I am a born in NYC city-slicker), but it sure looks like Quake is wearing a hardhat and not a cowboy hat.

    1. Quake started out wearing a hard hat, but at a later point, when they introduced the Quangaroo character, they put Quake in a Aussie-style “cowboy” hat and trimmed him down.

      One of the most coveted cereal premiums ever, there were actually Quisp and Quake hats you could send away for. The Quisp one had a propeller and the Quake one had a light mounted on it (miner style). They both ran on a battery pack.

  2. I remember the siren ring! Steven Prelutsky (who lived across the street) had one, but he never let me blow into it. Thanks, Mark, for (yet another in a hopefully endless series of) these trips to Old Kidland.

    1. You could get your own, if you have like $90 simolians laying around


      And for Mark:


      but they have replaced the “real meteors” with rockets…

      AND S2, SOOOOO TRUUUUUUUE! Man, I still get shredded roof o’ mouth.

  3. I made deals with the devil (as my moms was known at times) for a box of Quisp. Now I wonder if my desire for Quisp was bc I recognized my beloved Rocky and Bullwinkle in the martian and his voice.

  4. My older brother was a Quisp kid and I, out of a overpowering sense of sibling rivalry, became a Quake eater. We even argued over it. I think I might have even preferred Quisp but there was no way I was going to let him know that.

  5. Quisp loyalist forever. Right down to the color scheme. Mark, perhaps we need a kickstarter campaign for your grand breakfast prize re-education plans???

    Hell, would it kill them to throw in a simple baking-soda powered diving submarine???

  6. Of course I remember that you could save boxtops and pay some small amount of money to get the appropriate hat: Either a propeller beanie or a hard hat with a little light.

  7. I think websites should come with a prize. If I read Boing Boing there should be a small chance that I will get a baking soda submarine sent to me.

  8. Mark sez, …and the mascot was a nerdy, mischievous pink alien with a propeller on its head. What could beat that?

    For those of us a bit older than Mark, the mascot was irrelevant. What made Quisp the ubercereal of Quaker’s “crunch” line was the combination of a less sugary glaze and the saucer shape. This allowed the milk to slightly soften the bits very quickly, which meant that rapidly quelling a munchy attack did not result in shredding the roof of your mouth, a common injury when downing an entire box of Cap’n Crunch.

    1. I also was a Quisp kid, though it was phased out while I was young. I did enjoy the introduction of Crunch Berries, though.

      For me, the secret was to let your Cap’n Crunch or other variant soak in the milk for at least ten minutes to soften it.

  9. What you have there is the original Quake. At some point he passed through some kind of machine (there was a commercial showing this) and lost a lot of muscle and changed the miner’s hat for a cowboy hat- he had become “new and improved”. I guess the miner motif wasn’t up to marketing’s expectations.

  10. You lucky ducks. We didn’t have Quisp and Quake in Canada. At least, I don’t remember them.

  11. I get a box of Quisp every once in a while at my local grocery store. I didn’t like the Quake character, either and I don’t think I’ve ever even tried the cereal because of that. It’s funny how kids get so rabid about their loyalties.

    I think the hat Quake wears is a miner’s hat with a light on it, keeping with his subterranean theme.

  12. If it’s any help, the baking powder submarines (made from the original molds) are available from Amazon and usually eBay.

    1. Thanks, chazlarson- after I wrote that post I thought “surely that commercial’s on YouTube”…

  13. I designed a bunch of free inside cereal prizes for Quaker oats/Cap’n Crunch (they’re called “in pack premiums”) and it is an interesting challenge: make a mini toy that is telegenic as well as fun and exciting looking on the package, is also okay with moms, passes all toy and food safety standards, is small enough for automatic insertion…. all for just a couple pennies..and leave a little profit for yourself. Toy design haiku.

    If you have a hankering for Quisp cereal you can still buy it. In order to keep the copyrights alive and show they are still using them, Quaker makes and sells a token amount of certain brands of cereal and ships them across state lines. You can find Quisp cereal for sale at Amazon…and once in a while at the grocery store.

    Cap’n Crunch fans: did you notice the retro package design that was on the shelf last year? Very cool. I think they should have also reproduced the old back panels showing all the cool old premiums, too.

  14. i made a VERY powerful enemy of the mail lady while waiting for my quisp whistle ring. ‘four to six weeks for delivery’ and i was at the door EVERY SINGLE DAY for that period, asking her if it was here yet even before she hit the sidewalk. i’m pretty sure she made a point to stomp on any packages that came for my birthday after that…

    i do recall thinking that the package it came in was far more interesting than the actual ring.

  15. This was one of the most intriguing marketing experiments of the 1960’s.

    Quisp and Quake were the exact same formula, only the shape of the cereal and the packaging (and advertising) differed. (it was based on the Cap’n Crunch formula). Kids so strongly identified with one or the other character that they hated the other.

    You can read more about it at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quisp

  16. Yeah, the commercial is from Jay Ward’s (Rocky and Bullwinkle) shop.

    The deep voiced Quake guy is William Conrad (Cannon, Jake and the Fat Man) who also was the high-pitched narrator of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The high voiced Quisp may be June Foray who was Rocky.

  17. I miss the cereal “prizes” from my childhood in the 1970’s. Now everything is “send 20 box tops and $12.99″ for some lame thing. Rarely do we get anything worthwhile in cereal boxes anymore.


  18. For anyone interested, if you want more information on the other cartoons and work that Jay Ward Studios put out I suggest “The Moose that Roared” by Scott Keith. It’s a really interesting read.

  19. I worked on the 2001 Internet commercial Spümcø did for Quisp. For years afterwards there was a display unit of the stuff hanging around in the front of the studio; it persisted through a couple of moves.

    It started out full. Every now and then I’d notice there were fewer boxes.

  20. Struck and Von Tuyl, a Chicago area grocery store, sells Quisp. I get it quite frequently.

    I also mourn for the days of cool prizes in cereal boxes. C’mon marketers, bring ’em back!

  21. My Mom was kind of down on sweetened cereal, so we didn’t a lot of these toys as kids.

    I do recall a tie-in to Mary Poppins. Little plastic chimneys which shot out miniature replicas of Mary and Dick van Dyke’s chimney-sweep character.

    I forget the cereal involved, but my Dad did send away for a baking-powder submarine for me. One of those three-box-tops deals. It worked, but I don’t remember the details.

    Here’s an oddity: A shoe company gave away a Mercury capsule toy. It was flat, about 3″ long, and had a “secret compartment” in it, too small to fit anything really. It might have been a whistle, too . . . the details are hazy.

    * * *
    Really, the modern-day version of these premiums are the toys that come in “Happy Meals” or their equivalent at other junk food chains. I occasionally find, in my dumpster diving, unwrapped Happy Meal prizes . . . I guess the kids had duplicates and didn’t see the point of keeping them around. I have here at my desk a Kato figurine. Somewhere I have two wooly mammoths that play lines from one of the Ice Age movies (voiced by Ray Romano).

  22. for the record, you can still buy Quisp at Super Target. sometimes they even stock Frankenbery and Boo-Berry and as so many people have already noted cereal prizes nowadays suck

  23. I was just unpacking some boxes after a recent move, and I found a pink Quisp helmet w/motorized fan, a Quisp doll, and also a yellow Quake helmet. I’ll take some pix if anyone’s interested.

  24. Also: Boston area, the Fenway Starmarket has sold Quisp for the past 10 years or so that I’ve lived in the area. Some is on the pantry shelf right now. And John K. (creator of Ren & Stimpy) did the box art/mini comic on the back.

  25. I too vaguely remember premiums in cereal boxes, but I guess these two cereals were never sold In Canada because they’re new to me. I had a woody Woodpecker cup (shaped like his head) and a cereal bowl (shaped like a half log) for years and years, but gone now. Came out of Sugar Corn Pops I believe.

    The toys I used to really like came in Cracker Jack. The little puzzles and constructions were fun to assemble and use. I distinctly remember when they stopped putting in toys and started putting in fake 3d images of pandas or stickers. Never bought another box.

    Probably the only thing you can still get a cool toy in now is Kinder Eggs. Too bad they’re too hazardous for children (in the US).

    However, I also have to point out one negative of the food=Prize combo… Happy Meals. I cringe every time I see that awful junk they create just to sell hamburgers. My son is 4 and has never played with a single one of those things for more than a day. We throw them out almost as fast as we get them. They cannot be recycled and sometimes carry electrical components and batteries (which I take out, with a hammer, and recycle). Think how much of that dreck ends up in landfills? I wish McD’s was more creative and responsible about it.

  26. Surprised no comments about which cereals shredded the roof of your mouth into bloody shreds. Of which I always rated Quisp as just higher than Captain Crunch (plain).

    Soaking it in milk is for pu$$ies.

    Step 1 – Quisp In Bowl
    Step 2 – Pour Milk
    Step 3 – Inhale Cereal/milk while chewing thoroughly
    Step 4 – Play with shards of flesh hanging from the roof of your mouth with your tongue.

  27. Funny, I just finished a box of Quisp only a few days ago. It had a Spumco comic strip on the back. That’s better than many of the prizes I used to get!

  28. The Wikipedia entry reads:

    “The competition reached its peak in 1972, when a series of commercials asked children to vote for which cereal should remain on the shelves. Quake had a makeover in 1969, slimming down and changing his miner hat for an Australian bush hat and Australian accent,[citation needed] but that was not enough. Quisp was the winner and Quake was discontinued.”

    I somehow recall him losing the hat near the end, and dressing in superhero tights (since he was flying now anyway).

    But more clearly I remember that the commercials voted only whether to keep or discontinue Quake. I don’t remember there being any risk to Quisp: The images I have are of a live call-a-thon (or studio facsimile) with kids everywhere and an adult host, and a still of smiling Quake head on one side of the studio ballot-count and frowning Quake head on the other.

    Not sure which Saturday in 1972 (A US Presidential election year) had the commercials, but I remember waiting for the ‘results': It was a brief announcement, aired only once, that Quake had lost, and would no longer be sold.

    This gibe with anyone else’s recollections? Not a lot of internet to go around back then.

  29. I go through periods of eating cereal and not eating cereal, but when I do eat cereal, I love to get Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs or something like that (I don’t actually know what it’s called but it’s based on the peanut butter cups). It tastes excellent, probably the greatest cereal there is. Not sure how nutritionally sound a cereal based on a fatty chocolate bar is, but it’s probably not worse than other kids cereal :)

    These past few weeks they’ve been doing a Nascar promotion, and in each box there’s a hot wheels/matchbox sized nascar car (made of cheap plastic) that you pull back and it drives forward. Supposedly there are four colors you can get, but I’ve eaten four boxes already and I’ve got three yellows (the worst color) and one red (second worst).

    I despise Nascar for several reasons, but I have to say, it’s gotta be the best cereal prize in years (and you can just not put the stickers on, and then it’s not actually a Nascar car, just a car). I don’t regularly actually get cereal with prizes (the other ones I get are “adult” cereals) but when in the cereal aisle I am sure to check what prizes are available just in case. Even though the pull-back cars are relatively good, though, overall it’s way lame compared to the 60’s stuff.

    Also I still have a bunch of lightsaber spoons (that actually light up) that were prizes when the Star Wars prequels came out (I believe they came with the Star Wars cereal, which was basically Lucky Charms with Star Wars shapes, but it seemed better to me somehow). Actually, I have been digging through my old crap at my parents’ house recently and found a box of Episode II cereal (just the box, not the cereal). I recycled it. Kept the lightsaber spoons though.

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