The name is pretty indicative of the concept. Basically, the cereal depicts mild-mannered men, women, children, or a cartoon Talking Animal consuming their product, and then suddenly excelling at sports, defeating bullies or actually acquiring superpowers.
The trope is an exaggeration of the idea that a good breakfast gives you enough energy for the day. Expect the comment "along with hard work, exercise and sensible diet" to be casually thrown in somewhere once in order to be technically true. It will also have to be consumed as part of a complete breakfast, or the magic won't work.
A marketing form of Power-Up Food (and may count as this if it's the mascot shown doing it). Compare Super Serum. The Power of Cheese is a related trope that depicts the product as having powers itself, as are examples of Parody Product Placement for the Hostess Fruit Pies advertising campaign. Related to Missed Meal Aesop in that the ads are encouraging the viewers to eat.
- The main theme of the Frosted Flakes "Show Them You're a Tiger" campaign.
- Kellogg's was a health-food company originally. Kellogg's products could, according to its founder, detoxify your colon and keep you from masturbating to excess.
- "Frosted Flakes" had an ad campaign in the 90s in which Tony the Tiger took a spoonful of the cereal and immediately became SUPERCHARGED!, complete with lightning bolts and rippling muscles. Cracked.com did call out the fact that this made the cereal seem to be laced with steroids.
- The Honey Nut Cheerios Bee has gained super powers from time to time because he ate Honey Nut Cheerios.
Everyone knows that Cheerios did not let Casey down -They gave him strength and lots of GO...to get him out of town.
- Campaigns for original Cheerios have also done this with Peanuts characters, animated chalk drawings, etc.
- As did the French campaigns, exclusively with a Tortoise and Hare.
- Bullwinkle was a spokescharacter, touting the cereal's benefits in a series of poetry-reading ads. As 'Casey At The Bat', he still strikes out, and is chased by an angry mob, but:
- Cheerios had the Cheerios Kid who ate the cereal and got strength to seal volcanoes, rescue people and save his girlfriend, Cheerios Sue from wild animals, kidnappers, etc. Later they both ate Cheerios and worked as a team. The Kid and Sue were around from the fifties to the eighties.
- There was also a series of ads with Bullwinkle and the Cheerios Kid doing some kind of competition like bicycle racing, etc. Bullwinkle gets his energy after a bowl of the stuff, but usually ends up crashing into walls and other things. The slogan?
Cheerios Kid: Cheerios gives you GO!
Bullwinkle: [dazed] But watch where you're goin'...
- One of the mascots of yesteryear, Sugar Bear of Post Sugar Crisp/Golden Crisp, would gain super strength upon eating just a handful of his cereal.
- During the period where the name changed from Super Sugar Crisp to Super Golden Crisp (because sugar had recently become demonized), Sugar Bear could transform himself into "Super Bear." This was meant to transition to a mascot without "Sugar" in his name; however, Super Bear looked like a real, full sized, angry grizzly bear who could easily decide to maul you. Not the image you want for a cereal mascot.
- Super Bear's monstrous nature was used to devastating effect in the webcomic Breakfast of the Gods
- The UK had a cereal called "Sugar Smacks," which was advertised in the 1970s as "The Timeless Energy of Dr. Who."
- Quaker Instant Oatmeal had Popeye turn down spinach and have instant oatmeal give him his super strength. This series of ads was pulled very quickly due to public outrage. Plus, it irked the actual Quakers, who are pacifists, to have such a violent person associated with their name.
- Lately, they've had commercials showing that Quaker Oats cans apparently make handy jetpack fuel. Okay...
- They aren't fueling the jetpacks, they are the jetpacks.
- In Britain, Ready-Brek (instant porridge, basically) used to run adverts in which kids, after eating it, acquired a red glow around them; this was meant to indicate that the breakfast was "Central Heating... for Kids", but naturally, the ads were parodied by comedians attributing the glow to other things - like living next door to Sellafield.
- In more recent ads the kids have also been subject to bizarre hallucinations, which can be defeated by manifesting objects made of the red glow.
- The eternal implication of Wheaties' packaging and marketing, which hasn't changed in decades.
- British cereal Weetabix did a whole series of these: Elmer Fudd dropped his gun and ran from Bugs Bunny after Bugs ate Weetabix. The Three Bears stopped being angry about someone sitting in their chairs after finding she'd also eaten the Weetabix. Robin Hood ran away from the Sheriff after seeing Weetabix on his table. The Wooden Horse of Troy came to life and made a run for it after seeing the Trojans eat Weetabix. Delilah cuts off Samson's hair, but flees when she sees he is about to eat some Weetabix. Only poor old Ned Kelly failed to use Weetabix-induced superpowers; he couldn't get the spoon through the slot in his helmet.
- The Australian version of Weetabix, Wheetbix, constantly hires cricketers to endorse the product.
- There's another Weetabix one. In it the Trickster character Hungarr gets super speed if he eats Frosted Weetabix.
- Almost like they're admitting the sugar coating makes you hyper....
- And then there's this other one, it has a bear in it prowling around the house and turns into a human after eating Weetabix.
- The reason the Marie Celeste was found adrift with nobody on board? The pirate crew was about to attack a merchant vessel, but they panicked and dove overboard when they saw that its crew was eating Weetabix. Never mind that the Marie Celeste wasn't a pirate ship.
- Referenced and parodied in the third and last "Dexter Riley" movie from Disney, 1975's The Strongest Man in the World, in which Kurt Russell's hapless college student and his friends discover a combination of chemicals and breakfast cereal which produces temporary super strength.
- Subversion: the very healthy-sounding British cereal Sugar Puffs would supposedly transform children into giant, yellow hairy monsters if they weren't allowed to eat it. The ads were withdrawn when it turned out that they were actually scaring children. After that, they cut the transformation aspect and had the so called Honey Monster doing "cool" things like snowboarding or playing football. Probably the only instance of a company using scary stuff to convince kids to get on board.
- Honey Comb cereal in the US did similar, featuring a little fuzzy ball of frenzy who goes crazy at the very mention of the cereal. Later, they switched it to actual children who turn into the creatures.
- Cocoa Puffs' mascot, Sonny the Cuckoo Bird, has been at the first stage but hasn't quite moved to the second... yet.
- The Brain Grain cereal from We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story! made Rex and the other dinos super intelligent.
- And its Evil Counterpart, the Brain Drain cereal, has the opposite effect.
- Played with in the Lightning Lucy children's novels, where the titular Magical Girl is hired to do a cereal advert and the director asks her to eat the cereal and float into the air, implying the cereal was the source of her abilities.
- Parodied when Shaquille O'Neal publicly admitted to using performance-enhancing cereals.
- Subverted in the commercial for Kellogg's Powerpuff Girls cereal, where Mojo Jojo steals a box of the stuff from the girls and eats it, believing it to be the secret to their power. They beat him up just as easily as before.
- A '60s ad campaign for Kellogg's Apple Jacks told kids the cereal would give them the power to beat up bullies (no "hard work, exercise and sensible diet" qualifiers back then).
- This would be a Moment of Awesome for all cereal ads. You WISH you could eat Weetabix chocolate cereal and dubstep like this girl while teddy bears dance a cacophony of stuffed dance moves around you.
- In the case of Quisp and Quake (Quaker's rival cereals of yesteryear), their commercials boasted that eating Quisp gives you "quazy energy", while Quake grants you "earthquake power". On the other hand, Orange Quangaroos (Quake's successor cereal) makes no such claims.
- Volto from Mars, a mascot for Grape-Nuts cereal. Like all Martians, he has the power of Magnetism Manipulation, but needs to recharge it by eating whole-grain cereals every day, with Grape-Nuts being his number one choice.
- The Vault energy drink is shown giving the drinker enough strength to dive into the sea and bring up more oyster pearls for the girl than the other guy.
- Vault apparently also causes the drinker (always a guy, by the way) to develop incredible robot-scarecrow-building skills and to be able to use a squirrel as a weapon.
- Various Billboards and Print Ads for Vault feature things like a Lumberjack carrying an entire tree over his shoulder, and a man catching an enormous fish.
- Animated advertisements for Red Bull say that it "gives you wings" and show people growing literal bird wings on their back. It's supposed to be a metaphor for giving you energy and alertness.
- A New Zealand commercial for Anchor Mega calcium-fortified milk features a young kid who turns into a muscular anthropomorphic bovine crimefighter called Mega Bull.
- Many classic adverts for Guinness show people who just drank the alcoholic beverage in question performing feats of incredible strength. This includes carrying around steel girders and pulling horses in carts. The tagline is usually "Guinness for Strength."
- There is a subversion in a series of commercials for Bud Light. The announcer says that drinking the beer will give you some super power/ablity, then shows someone using it with bad results and then the announcer says this no longer comes with the beer. Some examples include the ability to breathe fire, in which a man practically burns down his girlfriend's house, and X-ray vision, where a woman is horrified to see some fat guy naked.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger got a very epic example of this in these commercials...
- The old Irn-Bru ads with the slogan "Barr's Irn-Bru, made in Scotland from girders" showed people acquiring super-strength and invulnerability from the drink.
- One New Zealand popsicle commercial implied that teenage Space Marines could power up their ship by eating a specific kind of popsicle.
- The print ad for Chef Boyardee's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pasta is a two-page comic in which the Turtles catch Rocksteady and Bebop stealing their supply of the pasta being advertised. Before taking them down, the Turtles munch down on the pasta because it gives them "total turtle power".
- Another Chefboyardee example: Back when they made fun pasta shapes of every popular character, it made Pac-Man themed shapes, and the cartoon version of Pac Man appeared in a commercial, where the pasta proved just as good as Power Pellets at fighting the Ghost Monsters. Thank goodness for Chef Boyardee indeed!
- Subverted in line of Sprite ads showing that Sprite won't give you special powers. It just quenches your thirst. In one ad, a boy drinks Sprite on a basketball court and then tries to dunk while a voicover says, "If you want to play like the NBA stars..." and he falls on his face, "...practice." In another, a boy drinks sprite before fighting Sting... and gets a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- In the 1940s, DC Comics had a series of one-page ads featuring Pepsi The Pepsi-Cola Cop, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin: a police officer overcomes problems by drinking a bottle of Pepsi and becoming an instant badass.
- While not consuming the product per se, various Holiday Inn Express commercials feature this.
First Guy: "Are you sure you know what you are doing/are you an expert at this?"Guy performing feat: "No, but I did stay at a holiday Inn Express Last Night."
- Winner ice cream turns people into polar bears.
- PF Flyers had an advertising campaign in the 50s and 60s that claimed that due to a " PF Magic Wedge" (AKA a cushioned removable insole), you can "Run faster and Jump higher" with you wear PF sneakers.
- A classic Campbell's soup commercial features a young boy so overcome by the wintry conditions outside that he's turned into a snowman. But after consuming a bowl of Campbell's soup that his mother sets down for him on the table as soon as he arrives, all the ice melts away and reveals the red-haired, freckled boy inside.
- Golden Age Tootsie Roll comic ads had Captain Tootsie, a superhero who ate Tootsie Rolls to give himself a burst of energy before saving the day.
- A juice drink ad has a kid at a school talent show take a sip, grab the mic, and make a big theatrical gesture, preparing our expectations for some amazing singing then subverting them by having the kid make armpit farts.
- A series of Mentos (The Freshmaker!) commercials has the protagonist faced with some conundrum. After popping one of the mints, the character is suddenly inspired by a clever, later-thinking solution to the problem. Noticing the amazement of a bystander, the protagonist triumphantly holds the pack of Mentos aloft, as if giving all credit to the mints.
- Popeye's use of spinach as a Power-Up Food was wisely incorporated into the real marketing of spinach for home consumption.
- Eating Friskies cat food will enable your cat to open portals to alternate dimensions. Or maybe it's just made with some kind of kitty LSD.
- Frequently subverted with Heineken's "reaches parts other beers cannot reach" series of adverts. In one example, a man is trying to write a blues song and is failing badly. Depressed, he takes a sip of Heineken. Within the next few seconds his wife leaves him, his house begins to fall apart and it starts pouring with rain. He immediately launches into a classic blues number and then his guitar breaks.
- A Prairie Home Companion is fond of making fun of this kind of commercial with their fake ones:
- The famous Powdermilk Biscuits campaign, which "gives shy persons the strength to do what needs to be done."
- The Catchup Advisory Council's "ads" for ketchup tend to focus on how the "mellowing agents" in ketchup will help you, well, get mellower, but occasionally they claim something more outlandish.
- No matter how terrible your day was, all you need is some Bebop-A-Rebop Rhubarb Pie and Rhubarb Pie Filling and "suddenly things don't seem so bad."
- POWERTHIRST gives you MENERGY!
- Lightspeed energy bars were a running gag on Justice League since The Flash did a commercial for them. In it, he is fighting the Rogues and his speed runs out until a kid on a skateboard throws him a Lightspeed bar. In a later episode, Deadshot smuggles a ceramic gun onto the JLA watchtower by hiding the parts in Lightspeed wrappers.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show: "Why does Powdered Toast give you sooooo much energy? Because it comes in a can, stupid!" It turns out that powdered toast can not actually give kids the power to fly, despite having Vitamin F.
- South Park: "Mintberry CRUUUNCH!!" Only the power of mint and berry combined can defeat the Dark One.
- Garth Marenghis Darkplace, a Stealth Parody of horror and 80s buddy action series, features a set of demonically possessed bagpipes that strip the protagonist of his trousers and make his legs glow orange, in a dark parody on the Ready Brek/porridge commercials.
- Referenced in the Danny Phantom episode "What You Want" — Dash wanted to be a monster to crush the opposing football team, and after Desiree turns him into one, one of the announcers for the game comments, "Wow! It looks like those high-protein breakfasts are really paying off!"
- During the early 90s, the Norwegian soft drink Solo ran a series of adverts that would always start out as stereotypical adverts of this kind... Only for nothing to really happen when they drank it, or for things to somehow get even worse. The tagline used was that Solo was "probably the only soft drink that does nothing but quench your thirst".
- The Simpsons: The episode "King of the Hill" parodies this with Powersauce bars. The initial plan for their ad campaign is to get Rainier Wolfcastle to climb Springfield's tallest mountain. When he refuses, they get a newly-fit Homer to do it instead.
Neil: New angle. Joe Schlub eats Powersauce bar, becomes world's mightiest man.
Brad: It's believable. That's what I like about it.
- Darkly parodied in this British PSA. A woman on a hen night loses her balloons, so a guy dramatically turns into a superhero and starts climbing up some scaffolding to get them back - before falling to his death. Alcohol just made him feel invincible. Know your limits.
- Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero parodies this in "Cereal Criminals", where Boone becomes stronger and faster after eating Kale Flakes while a disclaimer informs the audience that Kale Flakes don't actually work this way.
- Subverted in the Two More Eggs short, "Hot Dip": The short starts with a boy struggling with his math homework, only for the mascot of Hot Dip to appear out of nowhere and offer him some. After trying it, he begins rapidly doing his homework...only to cut to a piece of paper with the word "math" written all over it with an F-. The boy is pleased with the outcome, however.
- Rocket Jump parodies the mutant version of this for all it's worth.
- The Nostalgia Critic does a parody of the Frosted Flakes commercials of the 80s, where a kid will eat the cereal and win some competition, with a cereal called "Tuffy Flakes", and a girl trying to play against two bullies in a street hockey game. But because she ate sugarcoated cereal before the game, her energy gets zapped and she ends up losing.
- Martha Speaks parodies this trope twice.
- The first time is in the episode "Oh No!", where Granny Flo's alphabet soup company is in danger of going out of business, which would be bad news as the alphabet soup is what makes Martha the dog talk. Granny Flo decides to make an ad in which she states that the soup makes dogs talk and Martha agrees, but Helen disallows this because that would be lying as the soup only works on Martha. In the end, Granny Flo still says the line about it making dogs talk, but Martha just barks.
- The second time is in "Bye Bye, Burger Boy", in which the restaurant that the main characters like (Burger Boy) is in danger of closing down due to the popularity of Big Burgertorium, another restaurant which the characters don't like the burgers of, TD suggests making an ad which stars him as a very weak boy until he eats a burger from Burger Boy and develops superpowers, but Helen disallows this as that would be lying.