Friends, last week my fellow Pop Culture Retrorama writer, Allison Venezio-Preston, wrote on her own site all about the delicious 1985 breakfast cereal that was G.I. Joe Action Stars. A cereal that was produced by Ralston beginning in 1985 and depending on where you look on the internet – it was either discontinued by the end of ’87 or perhaps lasted until 1990. Personally I do not recall G.I. Joe Action Stars cereal being available in my neck of the woods after ’87 – having mentioned that I do however remember that pretty striking television commercial featuring Duke, Dusty, and Starduster.
When Ralston was putting out the G.I. Joe Action Stars cereal I had already drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid that was Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero toy line. The same is true for the Marvel Comic series and of course the syndicated weekday animated series by Sunbow Productions. While I had started collecting G.I Joe figures in ’83, I didn’t go in full-bore until two years later – thanks to action figures like Barbecue, Flint, Lady Jaye, and Quick Kick to name a few.
So it should come as no surprise that when shopping with my Father in ’85 that picking up a box of G.I Joe Action Stars became the new norm. While the offers of camo T-Shirts weren’t really that big of a draw to me – I did enjoy the mini-comics that were eventually included featuring a brand new Joe team member known as Starduster. He is the character that was made up for the cereal brand you saw at the end of the TV commercial – in fact in ’87 you could obtain an actual figure thanks to a mail-in offer.
Now to finally get to the point of the article, you see back in 1985 I became horribly sick with a stomach virus – it is still to this day the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my life. Our Doctor informed us that I would have to forgo food for three days with an additional four days of only soup or broth after that. My Father was told to keep me hydrated at all times with water and apple juice – which he did as well as my Grandmother who came up to watch over me while he was at work at the factory. The painful cramps in my stomach were bad enough before we learned I had the virus but around the second day of no food, the hunger pains kept me bedridden and crying. So what I ended up doing for three days was basically just laying in my bed watching The Last Starfighter on VHS over and over again. This was back when your VCR had a wired remote so I could stop the film, rewind it and play it again without trying to leave my sickbed.
By the end of the week I was feeling much better and seeing that I could hold food down again, my Father asked if there was anything in particular I wanted to eat. As I frequently eat dry cereal as a snack, I said I wanted some Action Stars. My Father drove to our local grocery store and grabbed an armful of the cereal – a situation arose though when he reached the checkout aisle. On seeing multiple boxes the checker laughed out loud and informed my Father that he was too old to be buying so much kid’s cereal. Then to my Father’s utter embarrassment the checker picked up the phone and over the store speaker stated:
“I need a price check for a grown man who is buying G.I. Joe Action Stars cereal.”
The checker was obviously just taking a joke too far and to my Father’s credit he didn’t explode or make a scene – but the experience had the effect of my Father refusing to ever buy another box of G.I. Joe Action Stars again. Those G.I. Joe animated public service announcements always told us that knowing was half the battle – now you know the incident that caused my Father to hate Action Stars cereal.