Batman is more than a classic comic icon -- he's a three time cereal champion. Aside from the numerous premiums and boxes he's adorned, Batman has taken the cereal aisle by the gonads and produced a new cereal each decade since the 80's. He blew up with the 1989 edition, sealing up not only golden corn puffs but strapping a plastic bank in his figure on the outside of each package. The idea was marketing gold, and with the prize wrapped over the box in plain sight, kids were scooping up boxes, tossing them into their mother's cart, and hoping she wouldn't notice them wedged between the Corn Flakes and the Kid Cuisine.
When Batman returned, so did his Ralston cereal. The design evolved quite a bit from the original sleek black design for Batman Cereal the first. Batman Returns Cereal has more of a comic appeal -- the hero's cape flows across the box as he gently grabs for his cereal, which appears to be in a Christmas tree shaped bowl. It wasn't the same cereal as before, it was the Chex and shaped marshmallows style that became synonymous with quick, dirty tie-in cereals. The shapes included the Batman logo, Batcar, a pimping hat, and "the horns." The free prize was fairly original, throwing aside the generic options of a Batman water squirter or fortune-telling top and opting for the pull of glow-in-the-dark. Each box contained one of four possible designs for glow-in-the-dark-knight vinyl clings, but there was a catch -- you might wind up with shitty Penguin. Sadly, not all editions featured this prize, and some poor kids wound up with a door hanger or double fold-up image on the back of the box.
In '04 the latest Batman cartoon installment was called "The Batman" and had a style that was semi-anime-esque. It gained a lot of popularity due to a prime spot in Cartoon Network's Toonami block. In '06 the cereal emerged, and since Ralston no longer makes cold cereal, it was Post's time to shine. They took the idea of Oreo O's and reshaped the pieces to look like little bats. The box is a lot brighter than it's predecessors, giving up most of the extra black for a more vibrant purple. The artwork features Batman swinging across the box, ready to cannonball into a bowl of his own breakfast triumph.
The back of a cereal box is extremely important as it gives you something to read while you're munching away at your second bowl. Batman Returns cereal gives more detail on the prizes available inside of the box, as well as a titillating display of all the greatest Batman toys available at the time. Each box had a small certificate informing you if you were one of of the lucky 100 winners to claim your stake over all the toys pictured on the box. If you didn't win, you still had the box to present your mother and proclaim, "Mom, I neeeed to have this."
The Batman cereal royally copped out by providing 4 cut-out trading cards on the back of the box. Stamping "Limited Edition" all over the box doesn't help the fact that they're still a poor excuse for a prize. In the new tradition of going online for prizes instead of giving them out of the box, you're told you can go online for free entry into the Batman Training Academy. At least they didn't encourage kids to download spyware laden games or ring tones for their cellular phone.
I have a personal adage that if something makes me gag when I smell it, I don't eat it. Not many people have smelled cereal after it's been getting musty for a couple decades, but trust me, it's a distinctive offender. The only thing I can relate the smell to is oatmeal mealworm colonies. Batman Returns cereal has all the stale bits still in whole pieces, but the marshmallows have become as hard as a 12 year old boy watching late-night Cinemax.
The Batman cereal still smells like chocolatey crunch, as it only expired a few months ago. The pieces aren't flaked with little cream bits like in Oreo O's, but the scent is just about the same. Even the marshmallow bits are the same round pieces, there was no attempt made to shape them into the Batwing or the Batcycle.
I was lucky enough to capture a cling of Catwoman in my box, which in comparison to the trading card, is about 56691 times better. Not only does it glow in the dark, but it looks like the true sex symbol that is catwoman instead of a giant-eared abomination. Catwoman on the left looks like she'd be distracted playing with a ball of yarn. Catwoman on the right looks like she'd tie you up with a ball of yarn and lick every square inch of your body.
For the next edition, I'm hoping to see Christian Bale doing pushups on the box, or maybe spelunking into a bowl of fruit-flavored Jokers.