Food History

In 1993, the Sprinkle Genie Spangled Your Breakfast

November  2, 2016

Big day for genies on this website. I'm going to discuss another one today.

Animated genies were on a tear in the early 90s, when General Mills cribbed from the aesthete of Disney’s Aladdin (1992) to sell its Sprinkle Spangles, a breakfast cereal composed of cornmeal, sugar, corn syrup, and partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil mounded into five-point stars. They'd be punctured in the middle and draped in a generous coating of sprinkles.

The product was introduced in September of 1993, a 13-ounce box with an asking price of $2.93. They were coupled with the release of Hidden Treasures, a corn cereal with a rather deceptive appearance that would obfuscate the liquid hidden in their centers—once you bit them, they would pustulate secretions of grape, orange, or cherry, all bafflingly advertised as being elemental to their appeal. (Hidden Treasures was discontinued in 1995.) For a time, Sprinkle Spangles' mascot was the "Sprinkle Genie," a voluptuous purple apparition with an earring voiced by the late Dom DeLuise, frequent collaborator of Mel Brooks who would later voice a number of characters in Don Bluth movies, from The Secret of NIMH (1982) to All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989).

What can you glean about a cereal you've never tasted through its advertising? Well, "slow your roll." Begin, first, with the internet's remembrances, all of which point to mild divisiveness. “Pete” of “” contends that “These were gross. like a overbaked christmas cookie with sprinkles.“ What a testimonial! GINGERSNAPS misses them so much that she can no longer seem to type, commenting that “i miss this [sic] ceral soooo much i still skim the [sic] ailes for it!!wish it was back..” Steven, meanwhile, has "fond memories of me eating this delectable treat every morning before school ... Interestingly, I didn't remember the genie.” Uh, Steven, my dude—are you feeling okay?

Earth to Steven! He's right there, the Sprinkle Genie himself. The Sprinkle Genie had a rather predatory tendency to burst in upon the private meetings of American youth. Look, for example, above, where he materializes during a clandestine treehouse soiree. For some reason, these children are having breakfast in this treehouse. “You wish it, I dish it!” the Genie exclaims when a little tyke pines for a more exciting breakfast. In another commercial that year, the Sprinkle Genie would come upon two lone misfits in a cafeteria, bestowing upon them a "truckload" of these boxes.

But I'm reminded of Anna over here at, who chirps, “I remember this cereal! I liked it. I remember the commercial said "cause they spangle, every angle, with sprinkles!" Hm. Is Anna correct? Let’s see…

Whoa. She's right. By late 1994, Sprinkle Genie disappeared, giving way to thoroughly unengaging advertising that reduced the innate charge of this cereal to an upsettingly academic calculus. These small tremors are the sound of cavities bursting in a small child's mouth. The span of this thirty-second commercial contains the worst tendencies of the 90s—elevator music against a pallid, nothingburger background, a 3D cookie rotating along an invisible axis assailed with sprinkles. This is anthropological in nature, as if I am being spoonfed the medicinal episode of a Discovery Kids channel show. Bad!

An exceedingly kind General Mills representative lady told me over the phone that the cereal died a slow and ceremonious death in September 2000, phased out due to what I assume were dwindling sales. Sprinkle Spangles has spawned pale imitations: consider, for example, Cap'N Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch. They have certainly cast a long shadow; there seems to be a gentle demand for bringing Sprinkle Spangles back.

Shop the Story

Do you remember Sprinkle Spangles? Let us know in the comments!

Listen Now

On our new weekly podcast, two friends separated by the Atlantic take questions and compare notes on everything from charcuterie trends to scone etiquette.

Listen Now

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Mayukh Sen is a James Beard Award-winning food and culture writer in New York. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Bon Appetit, and elsewhere. He won a 2018 James Beard Award in Journalism for his profile of Princess Pamela published on Food52.

1 Comment

Moshee November 2, 2016
Thankfully, I was too old for these. I don't remember eating breakfast or watching TV (except Seinfeld) in the 90s.