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The 16 sweetest free prizes that ever came inside cereal boxes

Glow-in-the-dark pens! Spy kits! Terrariums! We dig deep into the past to find these toys.

Image: biolio88 / Flickr

Last year, Cracker Jack got rid of physical prizes inside their snack boxes. It was the end of an era. Now kids get some kind of download, or have to scan a QR code with their phone. That's hardly the same thrill as digging for a little toy buried amidst the peanuts and popcorn.

Cereal prizes have slowly faded away as well. There was a time you could find a tiny plastic thingamajig in the bottom of every box. The boxes themselves were often toys, that you could convert into, say, a basketball backboard. General Mills, Post and Kellogg's gave away everything from toy cars and rockets to binoculars and decoder rings

We shoved our entire forearm down into the cereal immediately after opening the box. We did not wait to eat our way to the prize. 

Here are the most memorable free prizes we ever found inside a cereal box. Which was your favorite?

1

Terrariums inside Alpha Bits

Some parents said cereal was too sugary and unhealthy. However, thanks to these terrariums, you could tell Mom, "But I'm going to grow my own Luther Burbank Sweet Basil and Curled Cress!" It's basically a salad, Mom.

Image: Cereal Bits

2

Jackson 5 Records on Super Sugar Crisp

Technically this is the back of the box, not inside the box, but how cool was dropping a needle on Sugar Crisp packaging? Sure, the vinyl revival is great, but when is the cardboard revival coming? The cartoon, honey-sweet Archies were an ideal pop act for such gimmicks, but the Jackson 5 were classics.

Image: Guff

3

Star Trek Badges in Kellogg's Sugar Smacks

Obviously, we're a little partial to anything Star Trek. These badges were one of the earliest sci-fi franchise tie-ins you could find in cereal. Notice that Spock's uniform has "SPOCK" on the front, in case you didn't recognize him.

Image: American Otaku

4

U.S. Navy Frogmen in Kellogg's Cereals

Coming in Obstacles Scout, Demolitions Expert and Torch Man varieties, the awesome water toys were one of the first exclusive prizes. This was a peak plaything in the 1950s.

Image: spydersden

5

Glow in the Dark Pen in Super Sugar Crisp

Perfect for doing your homework in a power outage.

Image: Mr. Breakfast

6

Storyscope in Crunch Berries

It was like a tiny Viewmaster worn on the wrist!

Image: biolio88 / Flickr

7

Digital Watch in Honeycomb

Speaking of wristwear, these digital watches were obviously cheap. But, hey, it was a watch! Not everyone could afford a Swatch in 1988. You got more use out of this than a wee plastic car.

Image: Mr. Breakfast

8

The Flintmobile in Fruity Pebbles

That being said, some wee plastic cars were pretty cool.

Image: Mister Toast

9

Archies Car in Alpha Bits

The Archies offered more than music. You could play with them in this vintage red convertible, too.

Image: Mr. Toast

10

5-in-1 Spy Kit in Pink Panther Flakes

Spies were all the craze in the 1960s, and this made us feel a little closer to Napoleon Solo. The tool came with a magnifying glass, secret message slot and whistle. Though we're not sure how much use a spy has for a whistle.

Image: Mr. Breakfast

11

Monster Bike Spinner in General Mills Monster Cereals

These propellers snapped on your handlebars.

Image: Gray Flannel Suit

12

Poppin' Ship inside Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Cereal

Flick a marble at this three-piece galleon and the thing blew up. Who needs video games? We could kill an hour doing this back in the 1960s.

Image: Business Insider

13

Noggin Nodders in Sugar Pops

"Noggin' Nodders" is more fun to say than "bobble head," no? Too bad that never stuck.

Image: Business Insider

14

Action Pinball Game in Super Sugar Crisp

Trying to flick a ball bearing into a nook is not technically "pinball," but these were challenging.

Image: Gregg Koenig / Flickr

15

Harlem Globetrotter Whistle in Lucky Charms

Kellogg's offered Dragnet whistles back in 1955, but here you could pretend you were the referee at Globetrotters game! Not that the refs ever really called fouls on the Globetrotters.

Image: Mr. Breakfast

16

State License Plate in Honeycomb

Those who lived in the Chicago 312 area code were likely confused when they pulled out a Minnesota plate reading "WET 312."

Image: Gregg Koenig / Flickr

SEE MORE: 5 AWESOME RECORDS FROM THE BACKS OF CEREAL BOXES

The Archies and Monkees sounded better on cardboard. Okay, maybe not, but it was fun to cut them out. READ MORE

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