In March of 1971, General Mills introduced two new cereals to the market, a chocolate cereal and a strawberry cereal, both with marshmallows. Various mascots were tested, but with the craze of classic monsters still being strong (albeit in a more lighthearted way thanks to media such as Monster Mash and The Munsters), the choice was narrowed down to two mascots: Count Chocula and Frankenberry.
Kicking off the Monsters Cereal line of cereals, the two cereals were portrayed as competitors, even though they were part of the same company and brand. Through the commercials, Count Chocula and Frankenberry would argue with each other whose cereal was the better one, which resulted in them often being scared by something mundane in the end.
December 1973 saw the introduction of Boo Berry, the third cereal in the lineup, with the mascot being a dapper blue ghost. 1974 introduced Fruit Brute, an overall-clad werewolf with a fruity cereal with lime marshmallows. His cereal was discontinued in 1982, and was later replaced by Fruity Yummy Mummy in 1987, which was the same cereal flavor, only with vanilla marshmallows. He too was discontinued in 1992, though both he and Fruit Brute still appear in non-cereal media for the company, and were both given a brief revival in 2013, only with different flavors.
For a long time, the cereal was available year round, but as of now, it is only available during the Halloween season, with a new gimmick each year.
The Monster Cereals provides examples of:
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Fruit Brute is consistently portrayed wearing a t-shirt and rainbow-striped overalls, but no shoes.
- Big, Thin, Short Trio: Of the remaining three, Count Chocula (thin), Frankenberry (big), and Boo Berry (short), make up this trio in their sizes.
- The Bus Came Back: Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy, who hadnt been seen along with their cereals since their cancellation (they were still used in non-food merchandise) returned during the 2013 Halloween season, with Fruit Brute now renamed Frute Brute.
- Classical Movie Vampire: Most of Count Choculas appearance, primarily his dark hair, widows peak, and aristocratic clothing, is meant to invoke Bela Lugosi as Dracula.
- Chained by Fashion:
- Frankenberry wears thick chains as suspenders, though this seems to be a purely "strength" related reason.
- Boo Berry originally had chains attached to him, in a Jacob Marley-esque way, often with a cereal box dangling off of them. These were removed in later iterations of his design.
- Color-Coded Characters: Each monster is often represented in supplemental media by a specific color:
- Count Chocula: Brown
- Frankenberry: Pink
- Boo Berry: Blue
- Fruit Brute: Green or Red, depending on the media
- Fruity Yummy Mummy: Orange or Purple, depending on the media
- Daywalking Vampire: Count Chocula prefers a nocturnal lifestyle, but he can survive in the sunlight.
- Demoted to Extra: For a long while, Boo Berry was given a very reduced presence in ads and cereal release. He returned back to main status when the cereal went limited, however.
- Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Boo Berry's original design gave him a red bowtie and a yellow hat with a red band. Starting with the 2006 redesigns, the reds have turned to purple, and the yellow to blue, further balancing him in the "blueberry" colors that his original outfit lacked. He also originally had chains attached to him, but they were later removed.
- Frankenstein's Monster: Frankenberry. Hes a much more mechanical variant, with steam gauges and pipes embedded into his head. Unlike other variations of the monster, he is portrayed as sensitive and eloquent in his personality.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Count Chocula prefers chocolate to blood, and is often even afraid of children.
- Gentle Giant: Frankenberry is the biggest of the monsters, but also the most sensitive.
- Guest Strip: The 2014 boxes were guest drawn by DC Comics artists. Terry and Rachel Dodson drew Count Chocula, Dave Johnson drew Frankenberry, and Jim Lee drew Boo Berry.
- Halloween Cosplay: Promotional artwork for the 2017 run of the cereal, which was seen on the back of the boxes, shows mascots for other General Mills food dressed as either Count Chocula, Franken Berry, or Boo Berry, as well as the monsters attempting to dress as each other.
- Haunted Castle: Count Chocula, Frankenberry, and Boo Berry live in one. According to supplemental material, its technically the Counts in ownership. Boo Berry originally was simply the neighbor of the other two, but he later moved in with them.
- Looks Like Orlok: Despite Count Chocula sharing the aristocratic appearance of Dracula, he shares a good amount of his physical appearance with Orkok as well, such as his pointed ears, extra-long fingers with claw-like nails, narrow, hooked nose, and pointy little rat-fangs in place of his incisors rather than as canine teeth.
- Monster Mash: Each cereal is represented through a different monster: Count Chocula is a vampire, Frankenberry is a Frankensteins monster, Boo Berry is a ghost, Fruit Brute is a werewolf, and Fruity Yummy Mummy is, obviously, a mummy.
- Mummy: Fruity Yummy Mummy. He has bright rainbow wrappings and his debut commercial was him being revealed from his pyramid.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The original three mascots take inspiration from various horror icons: Bela Lugosi for Count Chocula, Boris Karloff for Frankenberry and Peter Lorre for Boo Berry.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Various commercials give elements to Count Chocula that other vampires don't have. He is able to view himself in mirrors, can survive in sunlight (but prefers to be nocturnal), and has electric abilities.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Fruit Brute appears to be a permanent werewolf.
- Really 700 Years Old: According to the Flexi-Disc "Count Chocula Goes to Hollywood", the Count is over 200 years old.
- Renamed the Same: For the 2013 revival of his cereal, Fruit Brute was renamed Frute Brute, as his cereal didnt actually contain any natural fruit.
- Retool: Thanks to the original runs of Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy basically being the same cereal, only with different marshmallow flavors, the two of them were given different flavors for the 2013 revival: Fruit Brute became cherry-flavored, while Fruity Yummy Mummy became orange cream-flavored.
- The Rival: The monsters in general fight with each other over whose cereal is the best, Count Chocula and Frankenberry, especially. Depending on the Writer, their rivalry has ranged from friendly to ugly. (Both often consider Boo Berry a rival too, but he's only interested in promoting his cereal.)
- Roger Rabbit Effect: Some commercials would portray the monsters with live action children.
- Shock and Awe: Various commercials show Count Chocula with the ability to harness and control electricity.
- Silly Spook: Boo Berry is portrayed as one. In his debut commercial, Frankenberry and Count Chocula both are scared of the ghost and perform a Security Cling with each other, despite the fact that they're a Frankenstein's Monster and a Classical Movie Vampire. But Boo Berry just wants to share his cereal.
- Vampire Vords: Count Chocula is given this accent, to sound like an impression of Bela Lugosi.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The monsters might fight with each other over who has the best cereal, but theyre still close friends with each other in the end.
- Vocal Dissonance: An interesting case. Frankenberrys voice is based on Boris Karloff, the original actor to portray Frankensteins Monster. As the Monster is stereotyped as just being a grunting brute, hearing a light British accent from Frankenberry is very jarring at first.
- Voluntary Shapeshifting: An ability proposed for Boo Berry (and utilized in a few minor videos and products, but never put into full effect) for the planned 2006 animated series was the ability to transform into nearly anything to help kickstart the plot.