Battle Creek’s “Cereal City USA” – When and Why Did It Close?
Michiganders love their cereal...and are particularly proud of the fact that most of America's favorite cereals were made right here in our state.
The Kellogg's cereal plant was a place many of us visited on field trips and school outings. The tour included watching corn flakes being made and the warm cereal smell never left until you went home. The paper hats were cheesy, but we liked 'em...plus, we were given kid-size 'snack-pak' boxes of cereals to take home.
With the tours being so successful, years later another idea was hatched. Battle Creek would be forever crowned "Cereal Capital of the World" which became a stepping stone to “Cereal City USA” - a family-friendly amusement area with entertainment, Kellogg's animal mascots like Tony the Tiger and the Rice Krispies trio, and plenty of Kellogg snack food. The plant tours ended in 1986 thanks to suspected spying from that 'other' cereal company, and OSHA complaints. A few years later (1998), Cereal City USA opened after an expense of 22 million dollars.
It was obviously aimed at kids. There were ice cream cones with various Kellogg's pre-sweetened cereals you could have sprinkled over 'em, get your picture put on a box of Frosted Flakes, have pictures with the cartoon characters, and SO much more activities, all based on cereals and their cartoon mascots.
The biggest complaint about Cereal City was its too-corporate atmosphere. In a place that was intended mainly for kids, the seemingly endless “how we make cereal” films, history timeline, and backstory on the Kellogg brothers fell on young deaf ears. The warm, 'freshly toasted' cereal that is dispensed at the end may have been warm, but not fresh – just warmed over to appear fresh. Also, fake machinery that simulated the cereal-making process wasn't fooling anyone, even the kids.
These days, the awe and wonder of how cereal is made has been scrapped and pushed away from public viewing. Now it relies on promoting and marketing, with cute cartoon characters on the boxes, pre-sweetening, psychedelic day-glo colors, special limited editions, and wacky names.
It was a good idea - just not profitable. Cereal City USA has been permanently shut down since the first month of 2007. According to Roadside America, "On Thursday morning, January 4, the management of Kellogg's Cereal City USA called the economic development council in Battle Creek, Michigan, and told them that it would not be open for business that day. Further, it would not be open for business on any other day in the future, ever, period."
Cereal City, USA
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