General Mills’ Monster Cereals’ limited availability creates continued demand

Punch line: General Mills’ Monster Cereals create a buzz for fans with limited availability.

Die hard fans of Boo Berry, Count Chocula and Franken Berry will go to great lengths to purchase the 1970’s classics, and resellers have capitalized on this, selling the boxes for 3X the price on ebay.

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Excerpted from the WSJ’s, “Boo Berry is Big at Halloween with Kids, Hoarders and Resellers”

October is the coolest month for Roger Barr. For a few happy weeks, grocery stores stock the object of his desire: Boo Berry.

monster_cereals

That is the berry-flavored cereal that turns milk bluish, delighting generations of American kids—and some adults, too.

The problem is that you can’t eat as much Boo Berry as you might  like.

Not long after Halloween, Boo Berry disappears from stores like an apparition.

The same affliction haunts lovers of Count Chocula and Franken Berry, the other two cereals General Mills produces for the Halloween season.

At first, the three surviving cereals were year-round familiars.

But the cereal maker cut distribution to the period from September to around Halloween in 2010.

General Mills wanted to focus on the pre-Halloween weeks to best capture the holiday excitement and enthusiasm for the products.

he company doesn’t release sales figures and won’t say whether the cereals were selling poorly the rest of the year.

One of the most amazing things about the monster cereals is the passion of the people.

Carol Shelley Thomas, a 45-year-old medical-billing specialist, for the past several years has bought 14 boxes of Franken Berry in October, enough to last until the following Halloween when more of the neon-pink cereal again appears in stores.

A quest for Count Chocula will lead Ron Macedo, a 41-year-old Toronto food distributor, across the border this month to Buffalo, N.Y., in order to buy at least 10 boxes of Chocula for himself and at least 20 boxes of Boo and Franken Berry for friends—to take back to Canada, where General Mills doesn’t market the stuff.

Many fans would love the cereals to be less elusive, but General Mills has no plans to make the three cereals available year-round.

But those who run out can turn to people like Josh Rhodes, who on eBay charges $7 per box from buyers.  Last year, he says, he sold about 300 boxes and expects to sell about 350 this year.  “Sure, I get some funny looks at the register,” says the 35-year-old Orchard Park, N.Y., resident, who buys about 40 boxes at a time for about $2 each.  “It’s worth it,” he says.

“People are willing to pay an arm and a leg for this stuff.”

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