Saturday, May 24, 2008

Morning Chex Press

(1960s)
By Ron Goulart

If you're like me, you read the back of cereal boxes.  When I was a kid, they were colorful things, filled with offers for toys (send in your boxtops) and other things.  Definitely kid's territory.

Which could be a problem if you had a cereal for adults. This was long before nutrition was a selling point, so the question was what to put on the box?

Ralston-Purina, makers of Chex Cereal (and Purina Dog Chow) decided to do something different.  They hired an ad copywriter (Ron Goulart) to write a newspaper parody on the back of their boxes.  Thus, the Morning Chex Press was born.

Every few months, a new box would come out. They were filled with jokes, oddball stories, a weather report, and the "No Pictures Comic Strip."  The results were a delight.  I think one reason I still love Corn Chex and Rice Chex is thinking about the old Chex Press.  I'll admit I don't remember too many details (even the Internet gives no specifics), but I do remember looking forward to reading the box each time we bought a new one.

Goulart was just starting his career as a writer. He later developed into one of the funniest writers in science fiction before branching out to write mysteries, including a fairly recent series featuring Groucho Marx as a detective. He's also well known for his various books on popular culture.

It seems unlikely that the Chex Press will be seen again. Cereal boxes are even more ephemeral than regular newspapers (which at least have microfilm). And Ralston-Purina spun off its human food division, which was then sold to General Mills in 1997, as Ralston decided to concentrate on manufacturing store brand cereals instead of their own (which leads to an interesting point:  if you buy store brand Chex-equivalent, you're buying from the original manufacturer; if you buy Chex, you are not).

In any case, the Chex Press seems gone for good. I'm somewhat saddened that I can't go back and see what I liked so much.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

At least some one else remembers The Chex Press. I always wondered what happen to it. I used to look forward to reading it also. It may be gone,,but not forgotten. Maybe General Mills will have enough marketing brains to bring it back.

Anonymous said...

I too fondly remember reading the Chex Press. Aren't there some copies somewhere??

Damali said...

we were just laughing about Yoo Hoo (Son of Yoo Hoo, Ma & Pa Yoo Hoo, Yoo Hoo on the Moon). Anyone remember those ?

heinz said...

I liked Rice Chex. I also liked Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Puffed Wheat, Corn Flakes. I liked Rice Chex the most because "Morning Chex Press" made me laugh. I stopped buying it when they stopped.

MMcQuown said...

I was just thinking about this, remembering in particular the movie reviews, often referring to an actress, "bubbly Panda Gish." One of her vehicles was a musical, "Hello, von Richtofen, Hello" This was in 1963. I have always wondered if that in any way inspired "Oh What A Lovely War"

Anonymous said...

I always looked forward to the Morning Chex Press. No one could get my attention while I was reading it.

dav said...

This is the only decent Google hit searching for the old Chex Press. They were extremely funny and unusually hip for a large corporation. I remember an album review of an organist named "J. Thunder Zeus." There is/was an actual organist named E. Power Biggs.

Tim Lewis said...

I remember an automotive column in the Chex Press in which a reader wrote in saying: I am a big man and I like to drive a big car. That's why I purchased a Haller Mammoth. The only problem is that it is three lanes wide. Do you have any advice?

The response was: I think you may have two Mammoths there side by side. Please check and see if I'm not right.

I once heard the Car Talk guys mention the Haller Mammoth on their radio show, but only caught a moment of it and did not hear what the context was.

George Fiala said...

The Chex Press was a big influence on my life, believe it or not. I actually now am the publisher of a small community paper in Brooklyn, NY. I don't know if tearing the paper apart from the back cover of the cereal box had anything to do with it, but who knows. I believe I might have saved one or two, which would still be at my mom's house. If I find one, I will let all here know. Like you all, I thought I was the only one who remembered it. By the way, I haven't seen the cereals themselves for a while. I know that Ralston keeps getting bought up by this company or that - all I see is the snack food in delis.

Chuck Rothman said...

Ralston Purina sold the Chex brand to General Mills in 1994 to concentrate on their pet food and store brand cereal lines. You can find Chex in most supermarkets. Oddly, though, if you buy a store brand equivalent of Chex, you are getting it from Ralston Purina, the original manufacturer.

Steve said...

I liked them enough to save them. I still have 3 or 4in a dresser drawer. I had hoped my own children might enjoy them someday. Well, maybe the grandchildren will.

Dobbin Burkhart said...

I just remember one joke. I would love seeing the Chex Press again. If you'll send images I'll put them online. dobsley@gmail.com

Jorn said...

I think of it when I see a webpage thrusting 20 different videos in my face as I'm trying to read-- what was their line about kids cutting up cereal boxes (vs Chex Press never)?

Anonymous said...

Here's an image of a box:

http://www.mrbreakfast.com/cereal_ucp_slideshow.asp?id=311&picid=374

Anonymous said...

I remember a tip from a housewife. It went something like, "When my husband comes home after a really hard day at the office, I like to jump out from behind the door and break a big plastic bag of chicken noodle soup over his head. This always gets a big laugh at our house."

And I remember a tip from the household repairs section of the Chex Press. Something like, "Be sure to stick a row of postage stamps along the top and bottom of your wallpaper. It is not only an inexpensive way to make sure the wallpaper does not peel off, but it adds a colorful trim to your decor."

David J Sweift said...

I thought the internet had everything. Alas, no repository of Chex Press. They were very funny to my kid-brain. The only thing that stuck was Goulart's homage to E. Power Biggs: " . . . featuring J. Thunder Zeus at the Steam Organ."