“A is for apple, J is for Jacks. Cinnamon toasty Apple Jacks! You need a complete breakfast, that’s a fact. Start it off with Apple Jacks. Apple Jacks! Apple Jacks! Ten vitamins and minerals-that’s what it packs. Apple-tasty, crunchy, too! Kellogg’s Apple Jacks!”
Neither flavored like apples nor shaped like jacks, Apple Jacks is similar to (and to some palettes, indistinguishable from) its more famous Kelloggsian cousin, Froot Loops. The crunchy little orange and green multigrain O’s, famous for their sweetened non-apple taste, nevertheless remain a popular breakfast cereal among the all-important “children” group.
The original Apple Jacks of the 1960s was hardly the bright beacon of breakfast goodness that it is today. Back then, the little crunchy O’s were a much paler orange with no green in them at all, and the pitchman was “Apple Head,” an apple with a brimmed hat, a smile cut into the side, and a couple pieces of cereal for eyes. For some inexplicable reason, the good people at Kellogg’s paired this image with the tagline “a bowl a day keeps the bullies away.” A concurrent tagline stated that “Apple Jacks will not be sold to bullies,” but how or whether that platform was ever put into practice is subject to debate.
But then came the 1970s and the real Apple Jacks that we all came to know and love. Apple Jacks kids, rendered like a child’s crayon drawing on the side of the box, gave us two of our own. They sang and tumbled about, part cheerleader, part flim-flam artists (subsequent advertising refuted the “apple-tasty” claim), all promotion. The Apple Jacks kids lasted long enough to usher a whole generation of kids into adulthood, finally retiring in the late 1980s.
Since then, Apple Jacks has become a breakfast synonymous with dissent and rebellion. “We eat what we like!” proclaim the children. The tectonics of breakfast cereal marketing shifted, and suddenly others followed the Apple Jacks lead in marketing directly to kids and not to the purchasing parents.
And thus the many-faced black sheep of the Kellogg’s family became – er, remained the oddball. Upheaval and histrionics aside, Apple Jacks has been and always will be known first and foremost for its non-apply-tasting, O-instead-of-jack-shaped sugary goodness. So, while Apple Jacks are actually anything but, as long as a spade is a spade, an Apple Jack is exactly that.
If you have fond memories of devouring a brimmin’ bowl of Apple Jacks in your youth, we’d love to hear your recollections of this beloved breakfast cereal in our comments section.