"Sugar Crisp?" you say? "What the effing eff?" you say? "It's called 'Golden Crisp', retard!" you say? You're absolutely right. It IS called "Golden Crisp", but it wasn't always. Gather round, children and I'll spin you a tale of perception versus substance.
Sugar Crisp, a cereal of puffed wheat sweetened with sugar. Ever the Soviet Union to Post's US of A, Kellogg's released Sugar Smacks four years later, a cereal of puffed wheat sweetened with sugar. Sugar Crisp was mascotted by a bear. Sugar Smacks had a frog at the helm. Everyone knows bears have many pointed sweet tooths, while frogs eat bugs. Advantage: Post.
Interestingly, These two cereals were found by Consumer Reports to be the brands with the highest sugar content - over 50% sugar. I wouldn't know how to begin baking something that was 50% sugar without simply pouring molten sugar (the magma of the breakfast world) into bite-sized molds. When you look at a single pixel of Sugar Crisp, it is glossy with an obvious varnish of sugar. But still. Wow. 50%.
Superfriends was huger than huge on Saturday morning television at the time. Just a hunch. The bear has always been called "Sugar Bear".
Kellogg's frog mascot has only been around since '72. Can you tell? His name is "Dig'Em". Previous to Dig'Em, there was Cliffy the Clown, Smaxey the Seal, Quick Draw McGraw (yep, the horsey sheriff), The Smackin' Bandit, and the Smackin' Brothers. There was even a "Wally the Bear" for a while in the Eighties. So, it looks like there's been a lot of turnover in the role of Sugar Smacks spokescreature. They probably all died of diabetes.
In the late Seventies, cereal companies began to make a half-assed attempt to market the products to mothers, not just the kids. So, "sugar" became a bad word, despite the biological fact that glucose is the only fuel your brain uses. Not that you need your food to be 50% sugar. I'm just saying. Cereal names changed across the industry. Usually, they just swapped in the word "honey" for "sugar" and called it a day. Post took a different route, using "golden" instead of "honey". Mavericks.
My mom would hardly ever buy these kinds of cereal for me and my bro/sis. It would only come home with us on occasion, and it would only be used as dessert, and only in a particularly small bowl to control the portion. Of course, we'd just heap the bowl with a hemisphere of cereal well above the rim of the bowl, but that was part of the game. I don't think our sugar intake would have been a problem anyway, because we'd immediately head straight out the door to run around and jump our bikes over randomly placed objects. Sugar ain't the devil. Laziness is.
I like the old box art in this ad. Red, brown and turquoise. Cereal boxes today are over-rendered chromatic grease fires of eye-hurting craziness. There's a cartoon studio here in Chicago that lots of my animator friends have worked at from time to time over the years, on a freelance basis. This studio makes lots of the cereal commercials that run on children's television. The people who work on the spots sometimes describe them as "chewed up crayons fired out of a cannon at the camera lens."
Anyway, the moral of the story is that the marketing solution to any problem is not to change the product, but to change your perception of the product. They'd never dial the sugar down to 40%. That would be insane. But they will do a different song and dance to try and change the way you think about their product. Fight the power.