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Cereal prizes still bring joy

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Column by Robert Villanueva

By Robert Villanueva

Last week my older sister presented me with a piece of cardboard I had saved from when I was a kid.

This wasn’t just any piece of cardboard, though.

It was a 45 record by The Archies that had been printed on the back of a cereal box from the ’60s. Honeycomb, if I remember correctly.

My sister had found the 45 when going through some boxes of memorabilia or something. She noticed an inscription on the back I had written, declaring it was my property.

I was probably 8 or 9.

Funny thing is I had mentioned the record to a co-worker not a week earlier. I thought I had stored the record with a lot of other things in some boxes in the attic.

Then, over the weekend, while doing some work in the laundry room I found an old toy I had saved from the ’60s or early ’70s.

Yeah, it was another cereal prize. Cheerios this time, I think.

It was a toy called the Mini Whiz Ring, a plastic ring slightly larger than a DVD. It was a toy to be thrown like a Frisbee, and as the name implies, it’s a ring rather than a disc.

I had quite a few of those at one time, but few survived over the years.

The 45 and the Mini Whiz Ring are not by any stretch of the imagination the only toys I still have from my childhood. They just coincidentally found their way back to me within a few days of each other.

Truth be told, I still have a few other cereal toys from the late ’60s and ’70s. Others exist only in my memories.

There are the hard plastic deep sea animals that included a saw fish, giant squid and flying fish. Somewhere among my boxed items I think I still have the whale and maybe the oarfish.

Then there are the various hard plastic animals, everything from caribou to crocodile. I still might have a rhinoceros, but I’m not so sure.

Tucked away somewhere are a few plastic cars that used what are now referred to as rip sticks. Those sticks would send the cars racing across the breakfast table at speeds guaranteed to annoy parents and result in some form of minor punishment.

At one point, miniature license plates from the 50 states were offered as cereal prizes. I don’t believe I ever kept any of those, but I can’t see a real license plate from another state these days without thinking of those.

Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood even showed up as spoon toys. These plastic toys had a groove into which you could slide the end of your spoon so they rested on the utensil.

Just how many times these toys took nosedives into bowls of cereal and splashed milk on tables probably never will be known.

The thing is, I associate a lot of enjoyment with those toys. OK, so it didn’t take much to amuse me as a child — some might say even now — but cereal prizes were a commodity around my house.

With six siblings vying for the prize in the box, the way we resolved the potential for bloody violence was to take turns.

That worked, for the most part, but it seemed to take forever until it was my turn.

And what we didn’t particularly want, we always had an option to trade with our siblings if they had something more desirable.

That worked, for the most part, too, but I have a feeling my older siblings tended to get the better part of the deal on many occasions.

Still, I have to smile when I think about those cereal prizes, because I remember how much I smiled when I got them.

And anything that can make a kid smile can’t be all bad.

Robert Villanuevacan be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.