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1990s / Pop Qwiz Popcorn 1990
1990s Colors included yellow, blue, green, and a mystery bag with a surprise color. I'm not sure how many of you will remember this stuff, but it was just too weird not to mention. Video store chains became especially popular during the early 90s; a fact proven by the insidious amount of Blockbuster commercials strewn into TV breaks at the time. As more and more movie nights were staged from home, popcorn finally shed its "theater treat" stigma for good while sales soared. Those microwaveable bags of kernels became and remain a staple in most households, with several companies competing for the coveted top spot. Yes, there's competition in popcorn. So how do you make one popcorn more attractive than the other? For the most part, it's all the same shit. Covering the packaging with pretty colors and in-your-face fonts only took these companies so far, and while dubious additions like cheddar dust and Cajun red spice helped differentiate the products, General Mills had something else in mind. Something strange. "Pop Qwiz." Perhaps the first and only popcorn marketed exclusively towards children. Thrown under General Mills' "Pop Secret" banner, Pop Qwiz really broke the mold. Junk food with a gimmick is common nowadays, but this stuff was pretty unique in 1991. Basically, it was just regular, buttered popcorn dyed in every color of the rainbow. You had bags of red popcorn, blue popcorn, green, yellow, you name it. That alone was sure to bring in a substantial clientele -- kids'll eat anything that looks odd. Pop Qwiz had more to offer than weird colors, though. While each of the mini-sized bags had correspondently bright colors, the colors of the bags didn't necessarily match the shade of the popcorn within. What was surely just a cost cutting measure was sold to us as a "game" -- it was up to us to guess which popcorn color was in each bag. The point of the game is up for debate, as we got to eat all of the popcorn even if we guessed wrong. Taking things even further, the bags had all sorts of quizzes, puzzles, and other stupid games printed right on 'em. Children always appreciate things tailored specifically for them, and while popcorn wasn't an important victory, we took it with great pride. We had our own popcorn. Tomorrow, the world. You'd have to imagine that some kids would've begged for Pop Qwiz just by passing the colorful box in grocery stores, but the point was really driven home with General Mills' ad campaign. This was crucial for ten trillion reasons, and I swear, I've counted. Okay, how often do you see popcorn advertised during children's programming hours? It's pretty rare, so Pop Qwiz was playing to an audience its competitors never even thought to tackle. Another point: when a kid wants popcorn, words are rarely minced. "I want popcorn." That's all that's ever said. No specific brands are mentioned, no bias towards one particular popcorn is conveyed. Just a simple "I want popcorn." By throwing the "Pop Qwiz" title in our heads, General Mills created a sense of inadvertent brand loyalty. If we wanted popcorn, we asked for popcorn. If we wanted crazy wacky colored popcorn, we asked for Pop Qwiz. And what kid wouldn't always prefer crazy wacky colored popcorn? This was all much more brilliant than it seemed on the surface, and the commercial was a real keeper to boot. I know I focus more on earlier years with these articles, but as I was entering my ugly, lonely teen years during the 90s, I ended up watching a whole lot more television. Alone. This "Pop Qwiz" ad, to me, is just as synonymous with the time as any of the big ones, including that PSA where the Ninja Turtles exposed the dangers of marajuana. It surprises me that the snacks weren't very successful -- I guess the world just wasn't ready to accept, much less eat radioactive green popcorn. Artists are so often unappreciated in own their time, even if they only work in kernels.