I can only assume they were discontinued after the bear detectives lost their badges.

I defy you to find a better, (mostly) healthy breakfast treat!

I’ve been very busy lately, so please excuse the randomness and brevity of this update, but this has been bothering me recently. Am I the only one who remembers Undercover Bears?

 

You see, I’ve been on a bit of an oatmeal kick recently, mostly because I had some instant oatmeal in my pantry and I have been seriously procrastinating my next trip to the grocery store, but I used to love oatmeal! I mean, that’s half the reason I had instant oatmeal in my pantry in the first place. The other half being my hope that oatmeal’s magic cholesterol destroying properties will somehow mitigate the rest of my awful diet.

 

Anyway, I’ve had a lot of oatmeal and it got me to thinking about how I first came to love oatmeal. To the best of my recollection, it all started with Undercover Bears.

 

Undercover Bears was an instant oatmeal from the early 1990s that contained what were essentially gummy bears disguised by an oatmeal coating. When you stirred hot water in to warm the oatmeal, you would find the gummy bears in your oatmeal and your day would be off to a fantastic start. There was a variety of flavors amongst the hidden gummy bears, but the brown sugar bears were clearly the best.

 

Here’s the commercial, though the only place I could find it was in a 90’s commercial compilation on YouTube:

 

 

Tragically, Undercover Bears was a short-lived General Mills product, leaving a void in my breakfast that would be hard to fill. My ever-vigilant mother found something that would come close, though. It was another General Mills instant oatmeal by the name of Oatmeal Swirlers:

 

 

Any long-time readers out there can probably surmise that I like to doodle, and doodling something delicious on top of oatmeal is a pretty great idea. It wasn’t quite as good as having cartoon bear candy in my hot cereal, but it definitely placated me for a while, and sustained my interest in oatmeal.

 

You might be asking, "but Vasco, isn't that just flavored goop on top of oatmeal? Can't you just do that yourself?" Clearly you have no soul, and probably don't even believe in Santa Claus. I pity you.

Eventually though, Oatmeal Swirlers also vanished from my life. To be honest I don’t remember if they discontinued oatmeal swirlers before my young attention span caused me to lose interest in them. Either way it’s certainly a case of not appreciating what I had until it was gone. For many years I didn’t have oatmeal, I mean, what’s the point if there aren’t any awesome gimmicks aimed at young children to pique my interest?

 

Well there was at least one more trick up the instant oatmeal industry’s sleeve, though this time it came from Quaker, the Amish master of oats. I don’t remember how all the pieces fell into place, but I can certainly make an educated guess.

 

I imagine my Mom one day, through some combination of nostalgia and that vigilance I mentioned earlier, saw this product on the shelf and bought a box just in case. It’s possible I saw a commercial for it first and made mention of it to her, but knowing my Mom I’m inclined to give her the lion’s share of the credit for such awesome discoveries.

 

Anyway, she probably kept the box in her pantry for a while until I suddenly wanted something for breakfast (I usually don’t get up until relatively late, or don’t have much appetite until lunch, despite my love of breakfast foods), or perhaps my Mom merely suggested it one day. Yeah, I can picture that…

 

“Remember when you used to eat oatmeal? Yeah, you LOVED it as a kid! Well, I found this:”

 

 

Apologies since, again, the only evidence I could find of the commercial was in the midst of a YouTube commercial compilation. This time it’s fairly low quality as well, but hopefully it gets the point across.

 

Basically, Dinosaur Eggs is like Undercover Bears in that you add hot water and something wonderful happens if you appreciate awesome things like cartoon bears and dinosaurs. This time a yogurt-like egg-shaped coating dissolves to reveal tiny sugary dinosaur shapes. On paper, this should be much more awesome than Undercover Bears, but if I’m honest this is my least favorite of the three.

 

Don't let a mother dinosaur catch you eating a bowl, she will wreck your house to protect her sugary babies!

This is such a great idea that I'm sure I would have been blown away were I still a child when I discovered them. Alas, I had already been spoiled on Undercover Bears.

It’s not that Dinosaur Eggs oatmeal is bad, it’s just…a little underwhelming. You see, the dinosaurs, while awesome, are very small. In a way it’s nice because you’re incentivized to go digging for them, but to me it’s more like a disappointment when you find them. Also, unlike the Undercover Bears’ bears and the Oatmeal Swirlers’ doodle goo (hmm, there’s probably a better name for that…) the dinosaurs don’t add any flavor. They’re pretty much sugar flavored, like those dipping sticks in Fun Dip.

 

Nothing against the other gimmicky instant oatmeals, but I feel like the fad peaked early. Undercover Bears was the best, and as far as I’m concerned is the reigning champ. The others had their own merits, but if I had my choice I would certainly pick some maple flavored gummy bears.

 

Of course I don’t have my choice, and only one of the three appears to still be on the market, the Dinosaur Eggs. So if you’re a dinosaur buff and an oatmeal fan, or even just an aspiring archeologist, then have I got hot cereal for you!

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