Greetings From the Strange and Frightening World of Lucky Charms

Most rational adults would find this picture frankly weird. And what's that book in his hand, the Necronomicon?

He's been variously known as Sir Charm, Lucky the Leprechaun, and L.C. Leprechaun -- you know, the guy in the green suit on the Lucky Charms box. As if the marshmallow-studded breakfast food can't sell itself, you need this twerp smirking and reaching for your throat from the supermarket shelf. Watch out for him! He's molesting the diet of millions of children.

The cereal was developed in 1964 by General Mills in response to the invention of the technology two years earlier that allowed the manufacture of tiny and durable marshmallows (known in the trade as "marbits") in appealing colors and shapes.

Back in the '60s, Lucky had a less alarming demeanor.
Lucky Charms began as an unsweetened cereal, on the grounds that the marshmallows were plenty sweet enough to fulfill the diner's breakfast sugar component. Soon, however, merchandisers discovered that adding extra sugar only increased the appeal of the product. Sugar currently constitutes 42.2 percent of the cereal's dry weight. Funny that while sugary sodas and fat-bearing fried foods have been singled out as root causes of the obesity epidemic, almost no one has dared mention the over-sweetened cereals marketed directly to children, constituting a major portion of the preadolescent diet.

Lucky Charms is something of a flagship for the General Mills fleet, a product that the company never stops plowing money into. The marshmallow shapes are constantly tinkered with and the colors altered in response to continuous product testing. While the original shapes were pale pastel stars, hearts, crescent moons, and -- splat! -- clovers, these eventually morphed into pots of gold, stovepipe hats, rainbows, balloons, and horseshoes, many riffing on the idea of good luck. The pastels were gradually swapped for eye-searing bright colors, to add further dazzle.

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