A Dutch artist plans to make a ring out of compressed Chinese smog, which is even cooler than the Quisp meteorite ring which came in boxes of the cereal in the 1960s. By Mark Frauenfelder

ringsWhen I was 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.

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 wanted most was the Quisp Meteorite Ring, which had a clear plastic round box that housed a real meteorite. The top of the ring even had a small magnifying glass to examine the sample.

Unfortunately, the manufacturers decided that they would randomly put Quake rings (which contained a piece of volcanic pumice) into Quisp boxes and Quisp rings into Quake boxes. There was no guarantee which ring you would get.

quake-ringAs 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, so 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 seemed to taunt me with a simian leer. (In retrospect, the Quake ring [left] looks cool and I wish I'd kept one!)

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 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.

I wonder if Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde knowa about the Quisp Meteorite ring?
Weird Universe reports that he "has come up with a plan to use 'patented ion technology' in order to create the world's largest smog vacuum cleaner. He'll then place his smog vacuum in a Beijing park, start vacuuming up the smog, and turn the dirt and dust he collects into Smog Rings."

This story was updated from my 2011 post.