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If you’re looking for a 1978 ‘Frosted Rice’ piece, hawked by Tony the Tiger, expect to pay about $98.

Hunter-Gatherer: Collectible Cereal Boxes

by Darin Lowery

So the question is- who knew? Who knew when we sat down for breakfast in the mid-Sixties and poured milk over our Cheerios that one day someone would actually covet the cereal box? To add insult to injury, some of those very boxes- the ones we threw in the trash because no one even thought of recycling in those days- may sell for up to $1400 on eBay. I suppose the larger question for most people would be how did any of these even survive?

I can tell you from personal experience that I have a stack of cereal boxes- sadly, they’re only a decade old- which I used as filler between picture frames as I packed for my big move to Arizona. These boxes- flattened and in perfect condition- are in a safe place and will one day pave the way for my happy and prosperous retirement. I hope.

Prices for pedestrian cereal boxes in good condition run from $1-$25. At the low end is a twenty year old orange ‘Kix’ box; mid-level, for eight bucks, a 1980’s ‘Mr. T’ box; higher end is a nice taxi-yellow Cheerios cereal box. If you’re looking for a 1978 ‘Frosted Rice’ piece, hawked by Tony the Tiger, expect to pay about $98. A ‘Sugar Smacks’ box from the same period will set you back only $43.

The Big Daddy of cereal boxes as of this writing is a 1972 ‘Alpha Bits’ box featuring Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five- it’s listed at $1399 and, as yet, has no takers.

I knew a guy, years ago in Chicago, who was obsessed with anything breakfast-related. He liked Aunt Jemima stuff, Quisp and Quake cereal boxes, and anything related to Tang Breakfast Drink (“It’s what the astronauts drink” was the tagline: they actually mixed the powder with water produced as a by-product from one of the life support devices to make it taste better). This man was obsessed– so much so that it got to the point I’d try to avoid him. One can talk about pancakes and powdered fruit drinks for only so long. The same can be said of cereal boxes.

Still, one never knows what future generations may prize. Therefore, I’ve decided to keep everything and throw away nothing. Perhaps one day soon you’ll see me on that ‘Hoarders’ television show. After all, I’ve got my retirement to think of.

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