The forbidden 1970s cereal: Mr. Wonderfull's Surprize

Via the delightful "Discontinued Foods!" (@Snack_Memories on Twitter), I found the story of the 1972 breakfast cereal judged so nutritionally catastrophic, the medical community united to abolish it.

The misspellings in the cereal's name, Mr. Wonderfull's Surprize, aren't really fanciful enough to be fun or playful, making one wonder if, like Froot Loops, which deliberately misspells "fruit" to avoid any implication that the cereal might contain fruit, General Mills was tacitly admitting that its cereal was really neither wonderful nor surprising.

It was billed as the "only cereal with creamy chocolate/vanilla filling!" and was test marketed in Buffalo, NY. And it so alarmed food experts that an assemblage of nutritionists, dentists, dieticians and citizen groups petitioned General Mills to prevent a national release. This seems to be part of the Great Cereal Scare of the early 1970s (more on that in a subsequent post).

A General Mills spokesman called the attack "chasing ghosts with sledge hammers." Apparently PR flaks used more evocative language in the '70s than they do now.

I couldn't find evidence of any more sugar content than the other sugary cereals of the era, but it seems the alarm may have been raised because (1) the cereal was made with both corn and rice, so the grains were pushed to the second and third spots on the ingredients list, with sugar being the first listed, and (2) the creamy filling meant that the high-carbohydrate cereal also had 4 grams of fat.

The cereal did get its national launch, but was soon discontinued, with the last box sold in 1975.

Below is video with an exhaustive review of the cereal's history. It makes the point that even though the cereal was singled out by nutritionists as a food disaster, its early marketing actually focused on its fantastic nutrtional value as "part of a complete breakfast." Here's a screenshot from the video, of a comic that was on the back of one of the boxes.

I like the way Mr. Wonderfull's entrance bonks fusty old "Coach" in the head with his boring exercise equipment. It's more fun to get healthy with a big bowl of sugar and fat!