Do not be seduced by Tony The Tiger

There was once a time in this country when entire marketing teams were devoted to convincing Americans that Frosted Flakes were not for children. It was a time that witnessed hot air balloon chases, animated tigers prowling through Midwestern corn fields and animatronic lady-tigers, complete with Lucille Ball wig and frilled apron, set on stealing the Frosted Flakes secret formula from a tiger wearing nothing but a red bandana. In the years since this nonsensical, freewheeling period, that tiger’s face has thinned, his muscles have grown, and his voice has dropped to a smooth, sultry baritone. Judging from the amount of slash fiction concerning this tiger, the turn of the millennium has witnessed Tony the Tiger become the most desirable, attractive mascot the cereal world has to offer.

I cannot urge you strongly enough to avoid this attraction to Tony. If you find yourself falling prey to his feline charms, find a healthy and balanced breakfast elsewhere. He will do nothing but tear you down and leave you to disintegrate as if you were nothing more than a bowl full of soggy cereal.

This is not a plea directed solely to furries, although I urge anyone with a mild bestiality kink to avoid Tony’s charms as well. This is directed to anyone and everyone who has ever looked into Tony’s endearing eyes and thought that he would be a better boyfriend than any real person. Allow me to elaborate on why there are so many better options within the cereal world for a little mid-morning fantasizing.

First of all, Tony the Tiger is and always will be inextricable from the boring collection of dry leaves commonly known as Frosted Flakes. Unless there is a day when Tony finds the guts to appear on television and, in full view of God and Michelle Obama, publicly denounce the awful brand that birthed him, he will always be a shill for a cereal responsible for the bland mornings of adult America. At least Honey Bunches of Oats has the honesty to go without a mascot, to go without the pretense of entertainment and enjoyment. Quaker Oats is comfortable enough in its perpetual state of boredom that it uses a realistic image of a boring white man for a mascot. But the creators of Frosted Flakes have used Tony as a puppet in their campaign to trick children into becoming boring, healthy adults. Because of his ties to the brand, Tony the Tiger is the animated feline equivalent of a man who makes paper clip sculptures of ‘80s hair band members in his free time.

Secondly, Tony the Tiger practices a habit of eternal optimism and denial of life’s problems. Optimism is nice, but endlessly asserting that everything is “grrreat” is no way to live. Your day was not bad, it was grrreat. Your car does not need an oil change, it is doing grrreat. Your grandma is not buried in an unfamiliar cemetery two states away, she is doing just grrreat. Surrounding yourself with characters like Tony may be nice at first, but it will lead to a cycle of invalidation preventing you from grappling with your problems in a healthy manner. Also, Tony parades around in a bandana without bothering to wear pants. He is fully naked and he knows it.

Thirdly, I am almost certain that Tony has been an avid user and proponent of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs since the early ‘90s. A casual two-hour viewing session of various Frosted Flakes commercials on YouTube reveals Tony playing a variety of sports—frisbee, tennis, volleyball, hockey—and generally losing handily. Without fail, Tony introduces his child teammate to Frosted Flakes midway through the match, and, without fail, the child then goes on to destroy their competition. What could possibly be in these bowls of Frosted Flakes other than anabolic steroids? I would not be surprised in the least if it turned out Barry Bonds and Tony were best buds in the ‘90s. Tony does not care about the physical and emotional health of the kids in the commercials. All that matters to Tony is whether or not the kids are grrreat at crushing their competition.

Another barrier for any millennials searching for comfort in the orange arms of a muscled carnivore: Tony the Tiger is 67 years old. I suppose that this is not a deal-breaker for everyone, but there are a lot of better options out there.

Take Cap’n Crunch, for example. If you want an older man, he has what you might be looking for. He has done his time and earned his rank; he is large and in charge. If you want a goofier personality, keep in mind any of the spooky cereal mascots. Franken Berry? Count Chocula? Boo Berry? Any of these fun-loving goofs would be better than the clumsy oaf of a tiger Kellogg’s has been trying to pass off on us for decades. If polyamory is your thing, there are a few mascots out there who can make your bedroom snap, crackle, and pop. If you want a little bit of buzz in your life, you have options for that too. Even if you still want to get your furry fix, there are plenty of animals representing other, better cereals out there. If you are more interested in a female cereal mascot…there are none.

I am not kidding. I went through the entire Wikipedia page for cereal mascots and all of them are male. Every single one. There is some weird stuff going on in the weird world of cereal mascots, but I am severely unqualified to analyze why every anthropomorphized animal tacked onto a box of Whole Grain Flavored Loops has to be a dude. Hey Kellogg’s, maybe take a look at that?

Anyway, do not let yourself fall prey to the sexy charms of Tony the Tiger, an old naked muscle monster who sells his soul to spread the scripture of subpar cereal. I know it can be lonely this time of year, especially when you find yourself sitting alone at breakfast and staring deeply into the illustrated eyes of a cereal mascot, but treat yourself with the respect you deserve and shut Tony down. If you still are hoping to fill a healthy and well-balanced hole in your heart, give Toucan Sam a call.

Dan Meyer