Why They Don’t Put Toys in Cereal Boxes Anymore

Growing up, few things matched the excitement of finding a toy in the box of your favorite cereal. Kids shoved their entire forearms down into the package immediately after opening it, without waiting to eat their way to the coveted prize. Glow-in-the-dark pens, Star Trek badges, whistles, watches, spy kits, terrariums, oh my!

Today, practically everyone has got rid of the physical prizes inside their boxes. Now kids have to scan a QR code for an online game. That hardly has the same thrill as digging for an exclusive toy buried in the package of your breakfast staple. Why don’t they put toys in cereal boxes anymore? Let’s find out!

The Reason They Don’t Put Toys in Cereal Boxes Anymore

Kellogg’s was the first company to come up with the whimsical idea to offer children’s prizes with the purchase of Corn Flakes in an attempt to entice kids. Offered in 1909, the first prize was a free book, The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book. However, back then, cereal aficionados had to send a proof of purchase of two boxes to receive it. Over time, manufacturers realized kids wanted instant gratification and began putting the prize inside the box.

So what happened to the toys in cereal boxes? A combination of factors contributed to their ultimate downfall: cereal box prizes being declared a choking hazard, new laws forbidding companies to persuade kids to eat unhealthy food, and, finally, the cost. Nowadays, rewards in online games are a whole lot cheaper than manufacturing physical prizes, and when children play in a digital world, they see even more advertising. This idea is more catered to the kids of today, raised in an era of technology. Receiving a special code for an online game is more enticing than a plastic toy that will fall apart in a couple of days.

Do you remember making your parents buy you a certain box of cereal because you desperately wanted the prize inside? What was the cereal and what was the prize? Please tell us in the comments, as we would love to know.


I am an English major with a love of languages and fiction, and with an incurable travel bug. In my free time, I read fantasy, drink copious amounts of coffee, and like to go see movies. Culinary art means everything to me. My main hypostasis is the taster, though. The music school has taught me to appreciate the symphony of airy meringues, to create harmonious overtures of light snacks, hard rock of meat, fish, and vegetables on the grill. Choir classes have accustomed me to hear and feel the people nearby and create perfect harmonies of sounds.

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