‘The Cereal History Exhibit’ opens in Battle Creek
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) – Those who were born in the early 1990s or before might remember the purple-and-green Reptar Crunch cereal that was released for just a couple months in 1999. It was a Post Consumer Brands cereal released as a tie-in to the popular cartoon series “Rugrats.”
Some of us might even remember “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie” or Rugrats in Paris Cereal, which also was only available for a few months.
If you’ve never heard of either of those or don’t believe they exist, the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau’s new cereal exhibit will be happy to show you that they are real at “The Cereal History Exhibit.”
In a clean, air-conditioned room across from the bureau’s visitor center, passers-by will be able to take a glimpse at more than 30 small jars of various old Post Consumer Brands cereals.
The Battle Creek Enquirer reports that that collection, along with numerous other items, were loaned to the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau by Ralph and Virginia Moody, who both worked at Post for nearly 40 years before they retired.
Their personal collection, which fills a barn on their property, includes cereal boxes of all the Post cereals you remember and ones you’ve probably never heard of, and even now the couple continues to buy Post cereal. They’ve kept and shrink-wrapped all the iterations of Fruity Pebbles and Grape-Nuts that they bought or scouted over the years.
It was Ralph Moody who started putting some of the cereal he bought into jars to add to their personal collection.
“I just did it as it came,” he said. “I had (the cereal) downstairs, and instead of throwing it away I put it in some bottles. I still have more down there, but I have no more bottles.”
Besides the preserved cereal, the exhibit has old advertisements for Post and Kellogg Co. cereals displayed throughout the room, as well as a cabinet dedicated to Tony the Tiger over the years.
There also are plenty of toys and memorabilia, and, though most of it is stored carefully behind glass, there will be an area for children to play with toys that have ties to the cereal companies. Other interactive areas include a corner where visitors can take pictures of themselves inside a giant cardboard cereal bowl.
All of it was curated and put together by Jill Anderson, a consultant with the Battle Creek Community Foundation. Anderson chose themes of advertising and nostalgia to focus on for the exhibit, which is why visitors to the exhibit will see plenty of vintage posters and magazine ads on the walls of the exhibit room. The items have come on loan from community members, as well as Kellogg Co. and Post.
“It’s been fun because word has gotten out, and the retirees from Post and from Kellogg have both really stepped up and brought in all sorts of cool things,” Anderson said. “I was starting without a collection, and usually you have a museum you’re working with and they have a collection, that’s where you start. So this one’s been a little different, because we’re starting with the community first.”
Kellogg Co. and Post stopped factory tours decades ago. Kellogg’s Cereal City USA, which opened in 1998, filled that cereal history museum gap for about 10 years.
Now, both the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau and the Regional History Museum Battle Creek are trying to bring that back with exhibits on Battle Creek’s cereal history this summer.
The bureau’s initial exhibit, which will open on Saturday with Cereal Fest, will last for a year while the bureau works on developing a bigger and better one down the road, said Linda Freybler, the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau CEO. The bureau is still looking for items people are willing to loan to the exhibit. Any visitors are welcome to check out the exhibit for free.
“I think it’s great…” Virginia Moody said. “Battle Creek at one time was known as the Cereal City. They had Kellogg, they had Post, they had Ralston’s. There were a lot of cereal factories here.”
The Moodys donated items to the Regional History Museum for the museum’s exhibit as well. That went up around a month ago and will remain at the museum until about September.
It’s the most extensive exhibit the museum has had of cereal history, according to Doug Sturdivant, the museum board president. The museum even has a large poster showing a timeline of Ralston Foods’s history up to 2000.
The Calhoun County Visitors Bureau hopes to whet people’s appetites for cereal history and encourage them to check out the Regional History Museum’s exhibit as well.
“The goal is really to kind of excite people about our history as a city and have people have pride in our community if they’re locals or when visitors come here to really understand where we’ve come from and where we’re going, going forward,” Freybler said.
Information from: Battle Creek Enquirer, http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com
By NATASHA BLAKELY, Battle Creek Enquirer
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