Before getting into this article, we suggest that you go get yourself a bowl of cereal – Fruit Loops, preferably. Or at least something with as much sugar as you can handle. This one is going to bring back some very fond memories. We guarantee it.
Ahh, breakfast cereal. The sheer joy of a tiny, plastic piece of junk splashing into your cereal bowl. Unless you were one of those ragamuffins who had to dig into the family cereal box and get the toy yourself (we were one of those kids, so we don’t blame you). Fun fact: The first cereal box toy came in a box of Cornflakes and the prize was a book. Thank you, W.K. Kellogg: you were a brilliant man.
Sadly, due to safety and marketing concerns, cereal box toys are a thing of the past. Indeed, there is a darker side to the cereal box prize, which we are about to show you. The number of times your parents almost accidentally killed you by allowing you access to that box of cereal is astoundingly high. You are lucky to be alive. Okay, we digress…
15. Metal Fragments – Wheaties
What kid wouldn’t love being able to pick up their breakfast cereal with a magnet? If you don’t believe that Wheaties can be picked up by magnets, just google it – the Internet is full of people trying this little trick out for themselves. Or better yet, just try it yourself – it should be relatively safe to try out at home. In retrospect, General Mills could have hit a jackpot if with a little advertising. They could have marketed the breakfast cereal as a science experiment and both parents and children would have loved the cereal.
Now, back to the “metal fragments.” When we say “metal fragments,” we do mean to say that they are microscopic and are meant to make the breakfast cereal more nutritious. By adding this to the cereal, they can claim that the iron content is a lot higher. But the fact that this cereal is supposed to be nutritious is in question and also misleading. Do you really want your children eating breakfast cereal that can be picked up by magnets? Probably not…
14. Degenerate Singing Mouse
What could be more innocent than a cute mouse singing Christmas carols? As it turns out, this mouse was a bit saucy and not so innocent after all. In perhaps one of the funniest recalls ever, a toy mouse singing “Jingle Bells” was recalled after people claimed that the mouse was actually singing “pedoph!le!” We don’t mean to offend you, but that is kind of hilarious. And no, this toy did not come in a cereal box but it’s too funny not to mention. The distributor for the toy said that this probably had to do with the fact that the person providing the voice for the toy couldn’t pronounce certain words. This was compounded by the fact that the voice was sped up and the pitch was increased. Too bad these were recalled, otherwise we might have to buy a couple just for the laughs.
13. Tiny Pokemon Toys – Pokemon Cereal
Do you remember this classic breakfast cereal toy? It was just a limited time offer, but back in the 90s, Kellogg came out with a Pokemon-themed cereal that had a small, plastic Pokemon toy in each box. Luckily, no one ever had to go hunt for a Pokemon in a small child’s body but these toys were small enough and more than a little risky for children under three years of age. The choking risk was definitely there, which is why it is kind of unbelievable that no one was ever injured – especially with Kellogg’s less than stellar track record.
With the Pokemon craze currently sweeping across the globe, they should bring these back today, but just tweak them so that they are a little bigger in size. They’d be a hit with children and adults alike.
12. Glowing Dinosaurs – Fruity Pebbles
The glow-in-the-dark stegosauruses that came in boxes of both Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles were a classic breakfast cereal toy. You might even remember the Cocoa Pebbles commercial advertising this toy – they were part of a good breakfast! Out of all of the breakfast cereal toys out there, these are probably ones that you remember. Kellogg’s hit it out of the park with this one with their little dinosaurs that glowed in the dark from the inside. They were a delight to children everywhere, even if you didn’t regularly tune into The Flintstones, although that certainly added to the appeal. While these toys didn’t ever result in any injuries or were never recalled, if you think about it, these dinosaurs could have posed a choking risk to children. They were relatively small, so it is surprising that there were never any complaints associated with them.
11. Slap Bracelets
If you were a kid of the 90s, you probably remember the fun you had, well, slapping these bracelet onto your wrist. Sure, the “slap” sound may have startled you, but these bracelets weren’t actually dangerous, were they? Actually, it turns out that they were, landing themselves on several “Most Dangerous Kids Toys Of All Time” lists, although they were never actually part of any recalled cereals. The bands have now been banned at schools, and various injuries have surfaced over the years. They became especially problematic after knock offs with cheap metal were being used, which had sharp edges. In 2011, an even darker incident occurred. A Florida school ended up giving out snap bracelets to reward its students for their fundraising efforts. But, the school chose the knock-off version to cut costs, which had nude pictures underneath! It turns out that these snap bracelets weren’t so innocent after all, much to the dismay of those parents.
10. Iron-On Patches – Honey-Combs
In theory, becoming the cool kid in school by ironing breakfast cereal patches all over your clothes was a good idea for the fashion-forward children of the world. But you know that if a prize involves a child operating a hot iron in order to get the final product, the results could be potentially disastrous. You’re basically asking for trouble. Apparently, Honey-Comb still thought iron-on patches were a good idea though, even if the risk of a child suffering from second or third-degree burns was relatively high. Luckily for Post Foods, there were no actual reports of children ever injuring themselves with these patches, but perhaps they should have chosen a more age-appropriate prize. Like their classic Honey-Comb watch that children rocked on playgrounds everywhere back in the 80s/90s. Do you remember those?
9. Spidey Wristwatches – Frosted Flakes
In 2004, Kellogg added a “Spidey Signal” wristwatch prize to their boxes of Frosted Flakes cereal in order to promote Spider-Man 2. The toy had a web-like light that went out after ten minutes. While this toy seemed harmless on the surface, not immediately threatening to harm your child, the wristwatches had mercury batteries in them, which have been proven to have long-term negative effects on both children and pregnant women. In fact, they are banned in many parts of the United States. The governor of New York described the toys as “a toxic chemical that can do enormous damage” and urged Kellogg to recall the toy to reflect their recent law prohibiting mercury-powered toys. While Kellogg agreed, they said that the toys were not dangerous and that they also comply with current safety and environmental standards. This is not the first time Kellogg’s has had to recall a breakfast cereal toy.
8. Insane Amount Of Sugar – Honey Smacks
What about the things hiding in breakfast cereals that don’t cause immediate danger but could lead to life-threatening diseases such as obesity and diabetes? An article about breakfast cereals would be remiss without discussing one very dangerous culprit: sugar. So, what are the worst offenders? Perhaps Fruit Loops comes to mind; after all, each colourful ring was coated in a layer of sugar. Indeed, Fruit Loops are breakfast cereals, with 14.5 grams of sugar per 35-gram serving. In other words, that means that each box of Fruit Loops is 41.4 percent sugar! But it is not the worst offender. That spot goes to Honey Smacks, which have 19.4 grams of sugar per 35-gram serving! That is the equivalent of feeding your child two Krispy Kreme donuts! If that isn’t scary, we don’t know what is…
7. Nascar Hot Wheels – Fruit Loops
Who didn’t play with car toys as a child? Hopefully it wasn’t one of the ones you found in a box of Froot Loops. Unfortunately for Kellogg, they had yet another mishap with one of their toys, this time with a Nascar Hot Wheels toy car. It was red and yellow with a white hood. Because they were super cool toys, they also had the red Kellogg logo on the front of the hood. They were found in a bunch of different cereals, from Froot Loops to Mini-Wheats Frosted Bites. However, Kellogg was forced to recall a whopping 837,000 of the toy cars because they realized that the wheels could be easily detached and could pose a choking risk to young children. While they were notified of this potential risk, no reports of any injuries were found. With Kellogg’s having a hand in so many of the toys found in children’s breakfast cereals, you would think that they would have accounted for the wheels, especially since this was a toy that was created in 2000. Kellogg got lucky on this one.
6. Easy-Bake Ovens
The Easy-Bake oven was part of every childhood and is now a pop icon. No, this toy oven didn’t come in your cereal box, but it was an iconic toy that has sadly been recalled. No longer will children be able to pretend that they are domesticated adults. Sometime after the oven’s remodel in 2006, the company received 29 reports of children getting their fingers stuck in the oven, which included 5 burns, causing the company to recall the ovens. They also offered a free retrofit kit, which was supposed to cover the opening of the oven to protect tiny hands and fingers. However, even after this, there were 249 incidents that occurred, including 77 burns. 16 of these burns were second and third-degree burns. A five-year-old girl also had to have part of her finger amputated because the burn was so bad. Those poor children! We apologize if we’ve ruined your nostalgic image of the Easy-Bake oven, but it had to happen…
5. Slip ‘N Slides
We all have fond memories of sliding down Slip ‘N Slides, belly up, every summer until we turned ten. That’s a lie. We are still prone to sliding down a Slip ‘N Slide every now and again… These things are so popular that millions of them have been sold over the years. Aside from an occasional grass skin burn, these toys were pretty harmless and just good old fashioned fun. Unless you’re an adult (or a teenager), in which case your risk of suffering from a neck or spinal injury and even death, increases. Between 1973 and 1991, seven adults and one 13-year-old suffered neck injuries and paralysis after sliding down a Slip ‘N Slide. Kids aren’t just reckless and irresponsible, adults are, too. We are putting this on this list because we care about you. Thank us later.
4. The Cool Flute – Corn Pops
Some of you may remember these toys from your own childhood – they were hanging around in 1988 in boxes of Corn Pops, Rice Krispies, Fruity Marshmallow Krispies and Cocoa Krispies. They are actually more educational toys, so we have to give Kellogg’s credit for that even if the toys ended up being high-risk. While a cool flute and a pair of binoculars seem pretty harmless on the surface, both toys had to be recalled because they didn’t comply with CPSC’s regulations for small parts. It turned out that they could be broken into small parts after being thrown around a bunch, posing a safety risk to children under the age of three. Unfortunately, one choking incident involving the flute and the girl nearly died after choking on the toy. In response, Kellogg’s recalled roughly 30 million of the toys.
3. Poke Balls – Burger King Kids Meal
While this toy didn’t come in a cereal box, it did come in a Burger King kids meal. It also became the biggest and most expensive recall ever. This seemingly innocent Poke ball, which pulled apart, ended up to be quite deathly. In 1999, a 13-month old child from California suffocated herself with the Poke ball after she put it over her mouth and nose. She was found in her playpen with the toy over her mouth. The way Burger King chose to handle the situation is just as shocking. They refused to recall the toy, despite the child’s death, until the toy was actually proven to have caused the death, causing a lot of outrage. Another 18-month old girl also almost suffocated but, luckily, her father saved her. Burger King finally agreed to recall the toy after the second incident, saying that, “They should discard the ball or return both halves of the ball to a Burger King restaurant for a free order of small french fries.” Eventually, it was proven that the toy did in fact present a risk of suffocation.
2. Kinder Surprise Egg
We don’t know of any cereals that ever came with a Kinder Egg, but that it would certainly be a (Kinder) surprise! These toys are part of every Canadians’ fondest memories, so it is hard to believe that they are so dangerous. Your parent may have even put one of these surprises in your stocking every year. Three UK children died after choking on one of the small parts needed to assemble the toy that comes in the center of the chocolate egg.
Did you know that they are illegal in the United States? That’s right. Sure, you may be able to get yourself a gun in less time it takes to put together a Kinder Egg, but don’t even think about smuggling a Kinder Egg across the border. Two Seattle men attempted it, but they were reportedly fined $2,500 per egg, and they were in possession of six.
1. Popper Toys – Cap’n Crunch
Children really are amazing creatures. Who could possibly ever be entertained by a piece of colourful rubber for hours on end? Indeed, we don’t give children enough credit for their tenacity. These eye poppers seem harmless like some of the others on this list, but a total of 36 children actually suffered eye injuries via Quaker Oat’s “popper” toys back in 1993. Hopefully, you weren’t one of them. At least they had a cool story to tell? This toy caused some of the most injuries on this list, with 36 people suffering bruised and bloodshot eyes after suctioning the toy to their face. Indeed, the toy was not intended to be used that way, but you can’t trust children with anything, ever. Quaker advised the public to discard the toy immediately.