Star Trek and merchandise tie-ins go together like Romulans and duplicity. None have appealed to children and adults alike more than cereal promotions! From 1969 to the present day, prizes, mail-aways, and contests offered through breakfast promos have inspired and encouraged fans to purchase multiple boxes, clip endless UPC codes, and dig to the bottom of dry cereal in hopes of acquiring rare collectibles.
Today we look at some of the more notable highlights from the last 50(ish) years, the standouts as well as the less popular premiums that fans have scoured the grocery store aisles to find.
Star Trek Badges - Kellogg’s Sugar Smacks (1969)
The start of it all, 1969 featured the first major tie-in with Sugar Smacks cereal. Spock and a phaser were predominantly featured on the front of the box with one of five free badges inside. Fans could find Kirk, Spock, or McCoy, as well as Mr. Sulu, the fifth badge being a Command Delta Shield that read ‘Captain.’ While the badges themselves can still be found at an affordable price through online auctions, an original box in good shape can run you a sizeable amount of latinum. Probably not as much if the cereal is still inside, though, the shelf-life passed a few years back.
Star Trek Face Masks - Kellogg’s Corn Flakes (1971)
Fans of both Star Trek and Corn Flakes (yes, those people do exist) got a treat in 1971 with the choice of six different cut-out face masks featured on the back of their cereal boxes. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Sulu appeared once more, but there was the additional choice of an Original Series Klingon and ‘An Android’ that looked like a bizarre prophetic cross between Ilia and Data.
Starship Door Signs (plus bonus mail-away Iron-Ons) - General Mills Cheerios (1979)
As the decade came to an end, The Motion Picture returned Star Trek to the world. General Mills picked up the license (a move which would last through the 80’s) and gave fans a double promotion, one of seven different cut-out Starship Door Signs as well as the first mail-away offers to utilize ‘box-bottoms’ (or UPCs as they’d later be called). For $1.00 shipping Trekkers received four iron-on patches which featured Kirk, Spock, and the Enterprise.
Collector’s Close-Up Trading Cards (w/ mail-away Light Beam, Stickers, or Wrist Band) - General Mills Cereals (1979)
That same year, running through some of the more kid-friendly cereals, Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Trix, and Lucky Charms, the big G showcased 18 cut-out Collector Cards related to the Motion Picture (two to a box) on the cereal backs. And, depending on the cereal, for a small shipping and handling fee, fans could order 50 themed stickers, a wrist band, or a Star Trek Light Beam (which was basically a super cheap flashlight).
Motion Picture Play Scenes with Character Cards and Ships (plus bonus mail-away Poster) - Weetabix (1980)
England’s Weetabix has always been known for utilizing the cereal package and creating an activity for kids to turn it into the promotion. For The Motion Picture they went above and beyond with 18 cards featuring stand-up characters (with profiles on the reverse) which were issued in strips of three or six depending on the package size. They included a mail-away poster offer as well, and two different film set scenes to display against; the Enterprise Bridge and a Vulcan Shuttle. Plus, two models to build The Motion Picture Enterprise and a Klingon Cruiser!
Win an Appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation Contest or one of 75,000 Enterprise-D replicas, Stickers (plus bonus mail-away Poster) - General Mills Cheerios & Honey Nut Cheerios (1987)
Star Trek: The Next Generation took the airwaves by storm in 1987 and General Mills ramped up the tie-in license by giving fans not only one of six stickers (Wesley, Riker, Worf, Troi, Geordi, and the Enterprise-D), but a massive contest to be a non-speaking extra on an episode of TNG Season 2! Tragically, it has been confirmed that the actual winner was an elderly woman who chose to receive monetary compensation rather than to actually fly out to Los Angeles. 75,000 runners-up received an incredibly detailed Enterprise-D model that was a preview of Galoob’s TNG toy line that release later that year. Then there was a mail-in offer for the starship poster from Picard’s ready room for a mere 3 UPCs and shipping. (Side note, 12-year old me did send out for it… but it never arrived. I even had a place reserved on my bedroom wall for it!) Canada ran a similar promotion a year later but offered no on-screen role for the winner.
Star Trek Mini-Starships - Nabisco Shreddies (1992)
Canada’s popular Shreddies cereal featured a collection of four unpainted starships; the Enterprise-D, a Klingon Bird of Prey, a Romulan Warbird, and a Ferengi Marauder. Getting back to the classic digging through the box to find a toy, these premiums were similar to the Cheerios give-away, but slightly smaller and not quite as detailed, but they did come with stickers to decorate them. All in all, they were solid cereal prize toys.
Deep Space Nine Rubber Stampers - Nabisco Shreddies (1993)
That following year Shreddies released four DS9 rubber stamps, PVC molds of Odo, Kira, Quark, and a Cardassian. The likenesses weren’t terrible and the stamp itself featured a simple version of the character when used. Possibly the most memorable part was the animated commercial, for those in the States unfamiliar with Freddie and Eddie (the Shreddies mascots) seeing them flying through what is basically the Bajoran Wormhole was pretty wild. Plus, this prize is one of the few exclusively DS9 centered toys!
Rent a Star Trek VHS for ½ Price - Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats (1993)
This promotion flew under the radar, but it embodies the era in which it was offered. Coinciding with the release of Star Trek VI on VHS, fans could get a 50% refund (up to $2.00!) for renting any of the Star Trek films at their local video rental store. If you were born in the last two decades, much of that sentence will not make sense, but overall this promotion represents This the franchise’s return to partnering with Kellogg’s, which would continue in North America.
The Next Generation/Generations Collector Cards, Stickers, Display Scenes (plus mail-away Poster) - Weetabix (1995)
Continuing its love of incorporating the package into a prize, England’s Weetabix utilized another interactive promo in 1995 for the end of TNG and the premier of Star Trek Generations. The entire back of the packaging was one of four cut-out display scene that could be used with the 18 characters that were included on 10 different Collector Cards. It was very reminiscent of the old 80’s Presto-Magix transfers or Colorforms. The back of the stickers featured one of 10 starships that could be displayed on a mail-away poster which featured the Enterprise-D. This was a massive number of promos in one offering and probably the most creative in utilizing the packaging as part of the premium.
Star Trek Trivia Cards - Kellogg’s Cereals (1996)
Coinciding with Star Trek’s 30th Anniversary, almost all Canadian Kellogg’s brands featured 60 collectible Star Trek Trivia Cards (and one unnumbered checklist card) that featured questions on events, moments, and characters from multiple series, TOS through Voyager. Apparently, Leonard Nimoy did not come to an agreement for his likeness, as Spock is noticeably absent and even blurred out in some respects! But since the cards were clippable from the back of boxes it wasn’t hard to complete a full set.
Beam-Up Badge, Flash Drive Wrist Band, Starfleet Tee - Kellogg’s Cereals (2009)
After a mostly dry spell of over ten years, fans not only experienced the release of J.J. Abrams’ first Star Trek Kelvin-verse films in ’09, but Kellogg’s multiple promotions across almost all their cereal lines. Eager viewers could get a mail-away 1 GB wearable flash drive for $7.99 shipping (stylish AND functional!). For either nine ‘tokens’ cut off the back of boxes (or $9.99), there were mail-order Starfleet uniform tee’s (of rather good quality and much like a running shirt — I ordered the Science one, myself!). And for the true classic ‘dig-through-the-cereal-box’ collector, five separate Beam-Up Badges which were small light-up ‘flashlights’ featuring the new Command, Science, and Engineering Delta Shields, as well as the Klingon Empire insignia, and the Romulan Warbird emblem. The products went through a few other non-cereal items, but it all culminated with…
Kellogg’s Star Trek Cereal (2009)
Finally, a limited edition Star Trek cereal, a collection of galactic cinnamon crunchy swirls and marshmallow bits. Only available for a short time that year, the box featured the new revamped Kelvin-verse ship but, in a warp-core-sized irony, aside from a few games on the back, there was no actual prize or mail-away premium inside this box! The cereal was pretty tasty though.
Honorable mention: Edward’s Tribbles (Stardate 1421.9)
The first in-universe Star Trek cereal (although I’m not quite sure it can be called that as all the flavors are definitely meat-related) was featured at the end of the Short Trek’s episode "The Trouble with Edward." It’s still up for debate if this is an ACTUAL product eaten in the ST universe, but either way, it deserves a spot on this list for nostalgia and full humor value.
Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox (he/him) has written for various SF sites as well as the Star Wars Insider and the Star Trek Communicator. He spends his time working on screenplays and stories, acting on stage and screen, and lurking around the Bates Motel on the Universal Studios backlot. Follow his rarely used Twitter account @TaVork.