Remember when buying a box of sugary cereal meant there was a free toy inside? Remember your brother spilling cereal all over the kitchen to get the prize, and then your siblings would fight over it? It still happens, but those prizes are fairly rare these days, limited to special movie premieres or something. The premiums began to appear in cereal boxes in 1948 and were often disappointing, but some were surprisingly cool. Mr. Breakfast compiled a list ranking the 50 best cereal box prizes, and some of them make me wish my parents had bought sugary cereal. Coming in at #15:
In the 1950s, Wheaties cereal offered a snazzy little 2-inch high microscope with an adjustable focusing lens designed by General Scientific Corp. "Kids! Explore the Wonders of Nature with your 6 Power Microscope Free in this Box! Magnifies objects to 6 times normal size. See things invisible to the naked eye on leaves, flowers, insects (and) rocks."
Then I remembered that my dad was a science teacher and we had a full-size microscope. Here's #5, from 1989 or 1990:
To have a send-away offer to get a watch from a cereal wasn't unusual, but to have a working watch actually inside the box was very exciting for kids. To make matters even more incredible, it didn't display just the time. It could also show the date! From what we could find looking at pictures, there were as many as 8 different styles available over a couple years. The best ones had the Honey-Comb logo and graphic interpretations of the cereal pieces.
Yeah, you can imagine that toys containing batteries didn't last long considering the expense, but they have resurfaced as recently as 2008. Check out the list of the top 50 cereal box prizes for a walk down memory lane or a glimpse at what you missed out on. -via Fark