This Halloween season, the cereal monsters are on the loose. Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry have consumers in their grasp — for a limited time only.
The General Mills cereals came out on the market in the early '70s, but the company decided in 2010 they would only be available during the Halloween season.
"That was bad news for some people," says Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful food podcast.
One of his podcast listeners turned her sister in Tuscan, Ariz., into a "Boo Berry mule" by making her cross the border into Mexico to get the cereal.
"This artificial scarcity has kind of galvanized a cult following around this time of year for these cereals," Pashman tells Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin.
This year, Frute Broot and Fruity Yummy Mummy are also making a comeback. Frute Broot (formerly "Fruit Broot") went off the market in 1982; Yummy Mummy was pulled in '92.
The boxes aren't collectors' items — consumers do actually eat them.
"But not all at once," Pashman says. "In fact, a big deal as people hoard them is they always are checking the expiration dates because they want to see how long it's gonna last."
Pashman himself recently purchased a Boo Berry that's doesn't expire until September 2014: "I'm gonna hang on to that 'til supplies are low, and then that's my nest egg right there."
Sweetness aside, the Monsters cereals seem to have made a powerful imprint on parents.
"There really is something about these particular artificial flavors that tap into a very specific sense memory," Pashman says. Sporkful podcast listener Rachel Gonzalez told him:
"It still reminds me of that Saturday morning special treat that you could only eat every once in a while, and it's something now that I get to share with my own daughter ... It's really kind nostalgic and exciting to me."