Sugar Smacks

Sugar Smacks

“Dig ’em”

In the glory days of breakfast cereal, it was imperative to include the word “sugar” in the name, at least if you wanted to capture the attention of the kiddies. Given a choice, no red-blooded youngster was going to pick Grape Nuts over something as enticing as Sugar Pops or Super Sugar Crisp. Today you know them as Honey Smacks, or simply Smacks. For the cereal eater of yesteryear, they will always be Sugar Smacks.

A puffed rice cereal introduced by Kelloggs in 1953, Sugar Smacks was an immediate success, thanks in part to a steady string of popular mascots who used words like “Satis-Smack-tion!” to proclaim their supreme status in the breakfast world. In the early years, a clown named Cliffy and a seal named Smaxey served as their spokes-creatures.

Hanna Barbera’s Quick Draw McGraw took over the role in 1961, followed by an assortment of odd characters. The Smackin’ Bandit was a hybrid of kangaroo and mule and quite fond of kissing. The Smackin’ Brothers, decidedly more human, came next in 1966, but also failed to garner any real traction with young cereal fans.

The breakthrough year for Sugar Smacks mascots came in 1971, with the introduction of the Dig ‘Em frog, A groovy amphibian who sported cool clothes, he possessed a baritone voice that only spoke two words – “Dig ‘Em.” He appeared in countless commercials throughout the 70s decade, slapping the hands of adoring children and hawking his wares.

Kellogg’s grew tired of the frog in the decade that followed. First, they tried a dog that liked to give hugs to children in 1982, but the biggest changes came when the cereal’s very name fell out of favor. Parents of the 80s decided that they didn’t want cereal to sound like it was made of candy, especially since a recent report showed that the competing Super Sugar Crisp cereal had the highest sucrose content of any brand. The word “sugar” was summarily removed from a number of products, including Sugar Smacks.

Changed to the much more nutritious-sounding Honey Smacks, Kellogg’s introduced a new mascot, a bear called Wally (because bears like honey, get it?) Wally, however, failed to resonate with the young audiences who, although they were willing to accept a name change, wanted their beloved frog back, dig it?

When the 90s arrived, Dig ‘Em was soon resurrected, although he was no longer hand-drawn, nor did he sport the same attire. Still, it was the welcome return of a friend, although those days are gone now. Manufacturers rarely make breakfast cereal commercials anymore, now that Saturday mornings are a thing of the past. Still, it is his smiling mug that continues to grace every box of Honey Smacks in the cereal aisle. There is that, at least.

And so, the Sugar Smacks of yesteryear no longer exist, except in the memories of kids who grew up munching a bowl of these sweetened nuggets while watching Saturday morning cartoons and following the adventures of a frog pitchman of few words. Yeah, Honey Smacks have their followers, but those lost souls missed out on the glory years, when breakfast meant an abundant serving of sugar.

If you have fond memories of eating a bowl of Sugar Smacks to start your day, we welcome all your recollections in our comments section below, as we harken back to a sweeter time in breakfast cereal history, here at Retroland.

4 Responses to “Sugar Smacks”

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  1. R. T. Retchardt says:

    I remember this cereal.

  2. Tricia McCoy says:

    I am an early Baby Boomer and fondly remember Sugar Smacks. I love the way they tasted and floated in milk. Yes, they were very sweet but we were only allowed to eat them sporadically. Our most frequent, favorite go-to was Wheaties. Occasionally we able to have Sugar Smacks and Frosted Flakes. Great memories !!


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