In my Cereal Isn’t Just for Breakfast Anymore post, I mentioned a short list of lower sugar cereals my mom allowed in the house. I forgot to mention one of my favorite “boring” cereals: Raisin Bran. I think I liked Raisin Bran so much because, even though it wasn’t as sugary as Lucky Charms or Fruit Loops, I could actually see the sugar that coats each raisin. Sometimes I would eat all the raisins out of the bowl and leave the flakes. It was a little better, I think, than the way my sister used to eat all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms box when she was old enough to buy her own cereal.
Let’s take a look at the semiotics behind Raisin Bran. There are two main brands of Raisin Bran: Post and Kellogg’s. There is a huge difference between the images on the boxes:
The Kellogg’s box on the left is what I immediately envision when I think of Raisin Bran. As with all Kellogg’s cereals, the top of the box contains the nutritional information (including fiber and whole-grain contents) all health-conscious consumers want to know. Post has similar information, announcing that their Bran is an “EXCELLENT Source of Natural FIBER” and there is also a box of nutritional information–on the much less prominent bottom-right corner.
Aside from the health-conscious top, Kellogg’s and Post are extremely different. Kellogg’s relies on the cartoon image of the sun to sell their product. The sun represents the natural process Kellogg’s uses to produce their raisins. We do not need to guess how the raisins were made: that jolly sun did all the work. Kellogg’s also pushes the fact that there are TWO scoops of raisins (as if consumers actually know how many raisins are in a “scoop”).
Post also emphasizes their sun-made raisins. However, rather than create a cartoon symbol of the natural process, Post simply declares that their raisins are “Sun-Maid California Raisins.” Sun-Maid California Raisins is a well-established product that many consumers already know are made naturally.
Although the Post box is plain compared to Kellogg’s, it does idealize the product a bit. While I love Raisin Bran, I can’t say my raisins have ever sparkled.
On both boxes, the most prominent item is the name, Raisin bran (although, Kellogg’s sun is rather large, pushing toward the foreground). Additionally, both boxes have purple backgrounds, a color that is most often associated with raisins.