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Tommy Doctor
Professor Olivia Rines
UWRT 1101-002
27 April 2015

Genre Analysis: Cereal Boxes

What comes to mind when you think of different genres? Is it a kind of music or maybe a
type of movie? Have you ever considered cereal boxes to be a genre? Well yes, cereal boxes are
a type of genre. Genre refers to a category of related pieces of work that reflect back to a similar
model (Genre). The genre of cereal boxes is not one most people normally think of when it
comes to genre but it most certainly is one. Capn Crunch, Post Shredded Wheat, and Frosted
Flakes are all considered a family of the cereal box genre. In order for this to be true, it must
have a few important characteristics. The main components in making a cereal box are the
designs that are put on the box, the characters used, the slogans they have, and figuring out
which type of person they are trying to persuade to buy the cereal. Once you figure out all of
these credentials, you have yourself a cereal box to analyze as a genre.
Genre is such a large and broad topic with so many different variations and examples that
most of the smaller ones get looked over compared to the well-known large ones. Genre is a
class or category of artistic endeavor having a particular or similar form, content, or technique
(Genre). For this reason, cereal boxes are considered its own separate genre because they too
have different categories amongst them. There are an extremely large number of different kinds
of cereals in the world that its even tough for grocery stores to count nowadays. Along with that,

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they pretty much all have the same purpose as well. Every cereal box is there for a few specific
reasons. One obvious reason is to provide the person buying this cereal with important
information of what they are going to be buying. This includes what the cereal is actually made
of including all of its nutrition facts, what to expect the cereal to look like when its poured into
the cereal bowl, the flavor of it or how it is going to taste to the buyer, and in most cases, they
present this to look as appealing as possible. Another purpose of the cereal box is to persuade the
buyer into buying their product and not someone elses. While reading the article Gender and
Form of Cereal Box Characters: Different Medium, Same Disparity, I came across the quote We
would argue that product packaging is similar to other forms of advertising, in that it is designed
to educate consumers about the product and encourage them to purchase it (Black 883). This
quote provides evidence for the communicative purpose of cereal boxes. It also supports the
claim that cereal boxes are out there to get consumers to buy their products along with providing
them with key information needed to hook the buyer into getting that product. This works in a
number of different ways. In most cereal aisles, the adult cereals or cereal boxes that are not all
colorful and have cartoons are placed higher on the shelves and the children cereals are placed
lower (Berry 334). This is all a sales tactic because as an adult your forward vision line is higher
up than a childs forward vision line. Having the children cereal lower on the shelves will allow
the kids to see them easier and grasp their attention. Having the adult cereal higher on the shelves
will grasp the older persons attention because it would be right at their eye level. When a person
is looking for a healthy choice cereal, typically an adult, they just have to look right ahead and all
of their cereals are there. This is where the cereal box with the best design, slogan, or picture
may come into effect. For example, Post Shredded Wheat is one of the healthier cereals
compared to Capn Crunch, and the box will deliver that message based on what it looks like.

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Post Shredded Wheat is known to be a healthier pick than Capn Crunch hence why it is located
higher on the shelf.
When it comes to children cereals, this becomes the complete opposite. The cereals are
placed lower on the shelves so when a kid runs down the aisle, they see Capn Crunch with the
toy inside and the hidden treasure map on the back rather than the Post Shredded Wheat that will
help you lose weight. A height of 48 inches encompasses the largest cross-section of children
possible, approximating the eye-level vantage of both an average 8-year old and a younger child
sitting in a shopping cart seat. (Berry 334) This quote supports why the more cartooned cereal
boxes are lower on the shelves rather than higher because it would be out of the average kids
viewpoint or eye level. The authors then went on to say:
Visual and textual information was coded from 2,755 cereal boxes observed in a
representative sample of 15 Toronto, Ontario supermarkets. Child-targeted marketing
variables created from these data include the presence of spokes-characters on cereal
boxes, child-oriented box colors, child-themed cereal shapes, on box child incentives, and
child-reachable shelf location (Berry 334).
This quote provides evidence the key features of the box are related to the communicative aspect
because they are gearing them towards the childrens perspective and fun imagination. The
discourse mode would be description, because it provides visual components to the box. This is a
good indication of why the boxes designed for children are more kid friendly with the colorful
writing, fancy letters, cartoons, and different shapes. It is more likely to draw the attention of a
young kid compared to a plain box with a few words and very little color or eye grabbing
cartoons. With all the different kinds of cereal boxes, it needs to have its own specific genre. This

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genre is used in many different ways, for example, how it is used in trying to draw the attention
of the children, but also for many other reasons.
Capn Crunch is a very popular childrens cereal and it has been for a while now. It is in
the category of the cereal box genre that would more than likely try to focus on children as the
audience. The box is big and bright and the main character of the cereal is a Capn Crunch. There
is always a different kind of activity to do on the back of the box or some sort of prize inside that
draws attention to childrens eyes. What was just described would be some key features that are
appealing to the children, which would then make them beg their parents to buy it for them. The
communicative aspect of this cereal box would be the fun cartoon and slogan because it is
communicating to the young children that it is a fun cereal to eat. There are multiple different
flavors as well so the themes, faces of Capn Crunch, and the cereal in the bowl are always
changing. Every time the kids go down the cereal aisle and sees a new cereal box with a
different flavor, activity, or prize they are just dying to have it. These aspects of the cereal box
make it fall under the cereal box genre.
Another cereal is Post Shredded Wheat. It is not the most exciting cereal out there and it
really is not intended to be. It is just shredded wheat, which is not everyones favorite cereal
although it is a healthy cereal. Just like all other cereal boxes though, the box itself still trys to
persuade its buyers to buy their cereal and not a different kind. It does this with a picture of the
cereal that looks very appealing and tasteful and bright colors which are the features of the box
that help grab the attention of the buyer, which would be geared toward and older audience, but
does not sell the product. What sells the product are the little punch lines such as Helps Lose
Weight or May help reduce the risk of heart disease. These messages on the cereal box are the
communicative aspect of the cereal box because it conveys a message to the buyer and it is

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straight to the point on what the cereal is intended to do. The discourse mode that Post Shredded
Wheat falls under would be description. This would because the box describes right on the front
what is being sold and allows the buyer to have a mental description of what they are going to be
buying based on the picture. Some main features that the box includes is the spoon full of cereal
over a heart shaped cereal bowl along with the color red on the box because red correlates with
the heart. Adults looking for the healthier root when it comes to cereal will be more likely to buy
this kind of cereal in the plain box with a statement about health compared to a cereal that has a
cartoon on the box and a toy inside. This type of cereal box is a lot different from one like Capn
Crunch but they both have the same genre, which would be cereal boxes because they are both
aiming to do the same thing, persuade buyers to buy their cereal.
Frosted Flakes is also another popular cereal on the shelves today. But whats different
about Frosted Flakes is that it does not focus on any specific audience, it is geared toward both
children and adults. Even though the character of the cereal is a big energetic Tiger named Tony
the Tiger, it also focuses on the health of its consumers and how it is a good product to buy. It has
many different characteristics that attract multiple different people. Its character and bright box
are the main features that attract the children. The slogan, Theyre Great! attracts people of all
ages because everyone knows that one, its a classic! The communicative aspect of the cereal box
is the nutrition facts placed right on the front of the box next to the tiger saying Good source of
vitamin D. This portrays to the audience that the cereal has a health twist to it as well as a
yummy taste. Frosted flakes falls under the category of cereal boxes because of its unique
qualities.
Cereal boxes as a genre is such a complex topic and sometimes a hard thing to
comprehend. You would never think about cereal boxes as being a genre but then when you look

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into it and think about genre itself, it has to be one. There are so many different kinds of cereals,
which along with them come the boxes they are sold in. Overall, the boxes all serve the same
purpose of attracting an audience and persuading them to buy the product. The genre of cereal
boxes is produced because all cereal boxes are a piece of work that are all related and reflect
back to a similar model. Cereal boxes are a genre that is not going to leave anytime soon because
anybody who buys cereal needs to know what they are purchasing before they buy it; that is the
purpose of the box. Along with that, cereal itself is not going anywhere because who doesnt
want a nice big bowl of Post Shredded Wheat from time to time?

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Works Cited
"genre." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 26 Apr. 2015.
<Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/genre>.
Berry, Brent, and Taralyn McMullen. "Visual Communication To Children In The Supermarket
Context: Health Protective Or Exploitive?" Agriculture and Human Values (2008): 33348. Print.
Black, Katherine A., Jennifer A. Marola, Anne I. Littman, Joan C. Chrisler, and William P.
Neace. "Gender And Form Of Cereal Box Characters: Different Medium, Same
Disparity." Sex Roles (2009): 882-89. Print.
Post Shredded Wheat: Original. Post Foods, LLC. St. Louis, MO. 2010. Print Cereal Box.
Capn Crunch. Quaker Oats, LLC. Chicago, IL. 1877. Print Cereal Box.
Frosted Flakes. Kelloggs, LLC. Battle Creek, MI. 1906. Print Cereal Box.