Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles are brands of breakfast cereal introduced by Post Foods in 1971 featuring characters from the original series and franchise, The Flintstones as spokestoons. Cocoa Pebbles contains chocolate-flavored crisp rice cereal bits, while Fruity Pebbles contains crisp rice cereal bits that come in a variety of fruit flavors with a sugar content of 9 grams per serving for Fruity Pebbles and 10 grams per serving for Cocoa Pebbles. It is the oldest cereal brand based on characters from a TV series or movie.
Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles Cereal were reintroductions of a low market-share Post children's cereal brand called Sugar Rice Krinkles. The Product Group Manager at the time, Larry Weiss, licensed use of The Flintstones for cereal from Hanna-Barbera (now part of Warner Bros. Animation) in an attempt to reinvigorate the children's cereal business for Post Cereals. Prior to that time, character licensing had been used for promotion, but there had never been a brand created around a media character. The brand was marketed despite internal concern it would be a fad and not last more than a year. Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles were simultaneously introduced on the West Coast in 1969 and strong consumer demand led to national distribution. The brand has been one of the most consistent best sellers ever since.
The original working names for the companion cereals were Flint Chips and Rubble Stones, consistent with the appearance of the cereal and The Flintstones' Stone Age imagery. Frank Corey, Benton & Bowles' creative head for the Post Cereal business suggested the alternative names Cocoa Pebbles and Fruity Pebbles, which were adopted.
The basic product retained the Sugar Rice Krinkles form, using the existing expander process and Battle Creek production facilities. The flavors, colors and other product formulations were carefully developed by Battle Creek product experts supported by marketing using the Linescale research technique. The objective was to create product characteristics which matched the expectations of both children and parents for what The Flintstones cereals should look and taste like.
After many iterations, the Cocoa Pebbles formula was set and has remained largely unchanged over the years. Fruity Pebbles also remained essentially unchanged for decades. In recent years some additions and variations have been made to the Fruity Pebbles product formulation. The Canadian version, no longer available, came in the form of pebble-shaped puffs composed of whole wheat, corn flour, and oat flour.
Unlike its sister cereal Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles has undergone many formula changes, additions and variants. The cereal started out with three colors—orange, red, and yellow—and natural orange, lemon and tangerine flavors, but were later flavored in natural orange and artificial lemon and cherry. New colors were added over time: purple in 1980, green in 1984, "Berry Blue" in 1994, "Incrediberry Purple" in 1995 and "Bedrock Berry Pink" in 2005.
Variants have included "Half Sugar Fruity Pebbles," "Dino Pebbles" (late 1980s- early 1990s), "Marshmallow Mania Pebbles," and "Bamm-Bamm Pebbles." A berry cereal called "Bamm-Bamm Berry Pebbles" was released in 2007, featuring only berry flavors. The formula for both versions of Pebbles had a major addition in 2006: polydextrose became a key ingredient. As of 2012, polydextrose was not listed as an ingredient in any Pebbles varieties.
The earliest commercials produced by Post's ad agency D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles with cooperation from Hanna-Barbera featured the animated Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble (as voiced by Alan Reed and Mel Blanc, respectively) interacting cheerfully with live-action children, eating the cereal around a typical household breakfast table; others showed Fred and Barney enjoying the cereal with their wives around their Bedrock breakfast table or in other locales and situations in Bedrock. Commercials after about 1978 were entirely animated, and would have a typical plot repeated with various differences. Fred (voiced by Henry Corden, before his retirement and death in 2005) eats cereal while Barney would want some as well; to that end, Barney would either disguise himself or distract Fred from his bowl of the cereal using various creative and increasingly outrageous means. While Fred was distracted, Barney would eat some Pebbles, but Fred would quickly discover Barney's lies, usually due to Barney's excitement at eating the cereal would cause his costume to be destroyed. Angry about his breakfast being stolen, he would normally exclaim, "Barney! My Pebbles!" Barney would then chuckle and deliver a comedic line while running away from the angry Fred, and Fred would give chase.
A 1986 Christmas commercial had changed the theme in which Barney attempts to steal Fred's Pebbles by disguising himself as Santa Claus. However, his plot was foiled as the real Santa Claus was already inside the Flintstone house (and Fred serves him a bowl without question). Barney as the impostor Santa is immediately discovered by an annoyed Fred, until Santa reminds Fred that it was the season of sharing, to which Fred changes his mind, gives Barney the bowl and embraces him with a "Happy Holidays, pal" greeting.
In a similar Christmas commercial to the original one where Fred forgives Barney by urging of Santa, Barney tries to again steal the Pebbles by pretending to be Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Present (with both Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Dino as the Ghost of Christmas Yet-To-Come) and saying that if Fred did not forfeit his cereal to Barney he would have a bad future. Fred agrees but soon realizes that Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm and Dino are helping Barney steal the cereal from him by the disguises and when shouting at Barney in anger Pebbles Flintstone reminds him that "Santa is watching." This revelation instantly leads Fred to officially confirm to Barney that he can always have some Pebbles cereal when he wants to and no longer has to steal the cereal.
In 2009, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm became more prominent in the commercials. The commercial launching Bamm-Bamm Berry Pebbles had a slight twist on the skit; when Fred said "Barney! My Pebbles!" Barney interrupted him and replied, "My Bamm-Bamm Pebbles!" happily as Bamm-Bamm carried his father away from the angry Fred. One of the most recent commercials featured Pebbles eating the Fruity Pebbles cereal along with Fred and Barney; Bamm-Bamm created a Barney-like distraction in the form of a giant fruit-loving robot, much to Pebbles' delight.
From 2010 to 2012, the commercials for Pebbles cereal are produced (by the ad agency Burns Group) using stop motion animation with the tagline that the cereal "rocks your whole mouth". The former motif of Barney's cereal theft was removed to focus on the enjoyment of the cereal.
WWE professional wrestler John Cena is an official endorser of Fruity Pebbles as the result of references to the cereal made by Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson over the course of 2011, where Rock nicknamed Cena (a bowl of) Fruity Pebbles based on his bright shirts.
From 2012 to 2014, Pebbles commercials changed to a scene where Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles perform kung fu and other martial arts.
Since 2014, Pebbles commercials prompt viewers to take a side with either Team Cocoa or Team Fruity, and each individual advertisement includes a different child exemplifying their devoutness to one of the teams. Various celebrities, such as actress Bella Thorne, retired professional basketball player Shaquille O'Neal, and professional soccer player Alex Morgan have been chosen as mascots for either group, as well. This is in line with the decline of advertising specifically towards children and broadening the brand's appeal, though Fred, Barney and Bamm-Bamm continue to remain on the actual front of the packaging.
Box cover illustrations
The box covers for the various Pebbles boxes have been illustrated by commercial artist Seymour Schachter [Seymour Schachter Illustration] since 2006.
In May of 2010, a controversial commercial of Cocoa Pebbles led to a lawsuit by WWE wrestler Hulk Hogan. In spring of 2010, a commercial where Barney and Fred face off against a wrestler named Hulk Boulder aired on TV. The commercial ended with Hulk Boulder getting smashed to pieces after losing the wrestling match. Hulk Hogan sued Post, saying they stole his image to promote Pebbles and that his image had been damaged by the commercials. He used the name Hulk Boulder early in his career until his name was changed to sound more Irish. The suit was settled in September of 2010 with a condition of not airing the commercial again.
|Dates of production||Notes|
|Fruity Pebbles||1971–present||Fruit-flavored crisp rice cereal bits. Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles Cereal were reintroductions of a low share of market Post children's cereal brand called Sugar Rice Krinkles. Fruity Pebbles contains 9 grams of sugar per serving.|
|Cocoa Pebbles||1971–present||Chocolate-flavored crisp rice cereal bits. Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles Cereal were reintroductions of a low share of market Post children's cereal brand called Sugar Rice Krinkles. Cocoa Pebbles contains 10 grams of sugar per serving.|
|IceBerry Pebbles||2006–present||In 2006, IceBerry Pebbles were released for a limited time. The pieces were green, red, yellow, and orange. They were described on the box as "sweetened rice cereal with artificial strawberry flavor."|
|Ice Cream Pebbles||2015–present||Rainbow Sherbet flavored crisp rice cereal bits. It was launched in Summer 2015, and contains 9 grams of sugar per serving.|
|Cinnamon Pebbles||2016–present||Cinnamon flavored rice cereal bits.|
|Dates of production||Notes|
|Dino Pebbles||late 1980s–early 1990s||Sweetened crisp rice cereal bits with Marshmallows. It was promoted by The Flintstones character Dino, and was discontinued during the mid-1990s.|
|Bedrock Blizzard||1998–2002||For the 1998 holiday season the Fruity and Cocoa flavors were altered and renamed "Bedrock Blizzard." The limited edition cereal had two different flavors: the "Fruity" flavor had red and green frosting; the "Cocoa" flavor had white "snow sprinkles." This cereal was replaced by Winter Fruity Pebbles in 2002.|
|Cinna-Crunch Pebbles||1998–2001||In 1998, Cinna-Crunch Pebbles were introduced. Unlike the other Pebbles which were crisp rice, Cinna-Crunch Pebbles were described as "sweetened oat, corn and wheat cereal baked with a touch of real cinnamon." The box claimed that the cereal had the "Best Cinnamon Sweet Taste In Bedrock" and a "Cinnamon Sweet Taste That Goes Crunch!". Cinna-Crunch Pebbles was introduced as a Limited-Edition cereal and was only available for a limited time. They were discontinued in 2001.|
|Winter Fruity Pebbles||2002–05||A winter-themed version of Fruity Pebbles. This replaced the Bedrock Blizzard in 2002.|
|Marshmallow Mania Pebbles||2005–07||Debuting in 2005, Marshmallow Mania Pebbles were a combination of original Pebbles and marshmallows.|
|Half Sugar Fruity Pebbles||2005–07||Reduced-sugar version of Fruity Pebbles. As of 2007, it is out of production|
|Bamm-Bamm Berry Pebbles||2007–09||In 2007, Bamm-Bamm Berry Pebbles were introduced, featuring only berry flavors. This was a limited edition, discontinued in 2009.|
|Dino S'mores Pebbles||2008–09||In 2008, the Dino S'mores were introduced. These had an object such as a bone, a marshmallow and a chocolate nugget. This was a limited edition, discontinued in 2009.|
|Cupcake Pebbles||2010–11||In 2011, Pebbles Boulders were introduced, being a limited edition only cereal, featuring two new flavors called "Stone Age Caramel Apple" and "Chocolate Peanut Butter".|
|Marshmallow Pebbles||2010–14||In 2010, a new flavor of pebbles was released called Marshmallow Pebbles. The cereal contains rectangular vanilla-graham flavored shaped pebbles and marshmallows. In 2012, the formula for Marshmallow Pebbles changed to the typically shaped Pebbles cereal pieces; the flavor is a sweetened rice cereal rather than vanilla/graham. A new variety that arrived in 2012 features Wilma Flintstone on the box (as part of a "Meet the Flintstones" promotional campaign), and features sweetened orange, red, and white rice cereal pieces with white marshmallows that match the rock necklace that Wilma wears.|
|Fruity Pebbles Extreme||2013–14||In 2013, Fruity Pebbles Extreme was introduced, being a modified version of Fruity Pebbles with enhanced flavor and color. It was discontinued in mid-2014.|
|Sugar Cookies Pebbles||2013, 2014||Sugar Cookies Pebbles was a limited edition-flavor that was introduced for Christmas season in 2013 and again in 2014. It featured Christmas colors.|
|Summer Berry Pebbles||2014||Summer Berry Pebbles were a mixed berry flavor. Featuring an Independence day theme, the cereal was colored red, white, and blue. It was only available for a limited time.|
|Candy Corn Pebbles||2014||Candy Corn Pebbles was a limited edition-flavor that was introduced for Halloween season in 2014. It was candy corn flavored (as its name suggests) and was colored white, yellow and orange similar to candy corn.|
|Poppin' Pebbles||2014–16||Poppin' Pebbles were a carbonated version of Fruity Pebbles with an added "bursting berry" flavor. It was sold for a short time between 2014 and 2016.|
|Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles||2014–16||Marshmallow Fruity Pebbles were a variation of Fruity Pebbles with added Marshmallows in various shapes and colors, similar to that of Marshmallow Pebbles or Lucky Charms. It was sold for a short time in Summer 2016.|