Cereal Box Prizes
When I was a kid, when I was given the choice (which I was very rarely given), I almost always selected the sugar cereal with the best prize on the box. When I was very young, the prize was mixed into the cereal as if it were an elephant masquerading amongst a herd of cornstalks. I would pour cereal into my bowl - patiently each morning until finally, the prize would drop and clang into my bowl like someone dropping a rock into an empty, metal wishing well. My guess that somewhere in the history of the 80's, a brain dead child mistakenly ate the prize and then sued the pants off Kelloggs. (Does Tony the Tiger wear pants? I am not sure - different cartoon characters wear pants in different times. Sure, Mickey has always adorned knickers, but he was a trendsetter - which Tony the Tiger certainly was not.)
Later, the cereal box prize started to make an appearance on the outside of the cereal bag. This made things much easier for a impatient ten year old hand. Simply pull out the plastic bag, grab your matchbox car, and then return the plastic bag to it's rightful place. It was like taking candy from a baby. (I'd never take candy from a baby back then. However, given that I was the oldest in the family, it would certainly have been an easy thing to do. But can you imagine 'Baby Jacob's' reaction if I took his sucker? I know, I know.)
The third stage of the cereal box prize was the "UPC symbol send in". For a squirmy squirt like myself, this was the worst kind of prize promising torture. Cut out TWO! UPC symbols from the top of the box, add $1.50 shipping, and then wait 6-8 weeks for delivery. And that's IF your mom let you send them in in the first place. Hardly seemed worth it for a Wacky Wall Walker.
Finally, in today's day and age, the cereal box prize has all but disappeared. Sure, occasionally there is a token prize here and there - for old times sake. But by and far, the cereal box prize has gone the way of Strawberry Shortcake's virginity: lost somewhere in the early 90's.
While I am on the subject of cereal from a box, the other day I poured the last bowl of cereal from the box only to receive... you guessed it - a pile of cereal sawdust on top of my breakfast. I hate the cereal sawdust! Kills me every time.
The McDonalds Happy Meal Prize
This prize has lived through the 70's, 80's, 90's and is a permanent fixture of the thousands. These prizes have limited entertainment value and generally lose their appeal after 30 minutes of play time. They do, however, carry an unbelievable value when it comes to dirtying up any front room. I'm not sure, but I believe that 80% of the crap on our living room floor on any given day received it's origin from the god of McDonald.
While I am sure it is too dangerous, the Happy Meal prize should be a two ounce bottle of hand sanitizer. That way, when the boys come squalling into the table, eager to eat after spending twenty minutes in that puss filled, germ party known as the "playland", we can squirt a couple dabs of sanitizer onto their palms to keep us all from throwing up.
I actually believe that McDonalds started marketing their "Monopoly" game because the adults were tired of their kids getting prizes all the time while they sat, greasy palmed and prizeless on the playland bench. In fact, the greatest Monopoly prize of all is the "free hash brown". I have never seen grown adults so ecstatic about a 99 cent piece of processed potato! I want to tell them, "You do realize in order to redeem that piece of garbage, you do actually have to come back to McDonalds... in the morning... before 10:00. So... put that minute piece of paper into your wallet where it will stay for at least six months, until... you one day find it while hunting for your library card. I have news for you prize wannabe losers: The library does not serve deep fried potato and it does not play monopoly.
In my view, McDonalds would be smart to start marketing a "Parental McDonalds Survival Kit" to sell at the counter. (They could be situated between the cookies and the ketchup packets.) For $4.99, any parent could receive: hand sanitizer, stain lifter, wet naps and handcuffs to keep kids from climbing underneath the table and running through the restaurant sockless. For an extra dollar, they could include a whistle to retrieve your child from the top layer of Playland tubing.
The Sporting Event Prize
I'm not sure about you, but I am tiring a bit of the usual, cliche sporting event prize; the bobble heads, tee shirts, mints and mini balls. I'd like to see some creativity and innovation from the marketing geniuses employed by Larry H.. (That means you Jake!)
How about Jerry Sloan, John Deere tractor night? Surely a matchbox sized John Deere tractor, produced in mass, could be done at a low cost. Or, how about a pack of Carlos Boozer brand band aides? Or 10,000 miniature Matt Harpring harps. Bring back the free fries at Hardees! (I realize Hardees is no longer around, so bring back Hardees!)
If the marketing gurus really want to cause a stir, how about a Valentines day pack of coupons for husbands to give their wives. You know the kind, "good for one free hug" or "one free date night". Of course, given that it is a Jazz promotion, the coupon book would not be complete without a coupon, "good for one free 'Andre Kirilenko night' away from your wife." Apparently this has worked wonders for AK.
I'm still upset about that cereal sawdust. It totally ruins the entire bowl of cereal! Your "bowl of cereal" suddenly becomes a "bowl of chunky mush". Why can't Kellogg's just wrap the excess sawdust in a cellophane wrap and give that out as the prize?! Perhaps even, instead of having the sawdust in the box, you have to send in 2 UPC symbols and $1.50 shipping and it will be mailed to you?
If they are so intent on giving us the end of cereal sawdust, why not make an entire cereal out of the sawdust? They could call it "Count Chocolate Dandruff". Perhaps the prize could be a two ounce bottle of Pert Plus?