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Sugar Puffs are a honey-flavoured breakfast cereal made from sugar-coated wheat sold in the United Kingdom. For many years they were made by the Quaker Oats Company but in 2006 they were sold to Big Bear t/a Honey Monster Foods, based in Leicester. The products under the Honey Monster title continue to be manufactured at the site in Southall, London.
Sugar Puffs were first launched in 1957 with Jeremy the Bear. They were invented by William Halliday Davies (1919–2009), production manager at the Quaker Oats mill in Southall, London. The Honey Monster campaign in the 1970s was very successful. Honey Monster went on to lead many campaigns including appearances with Boyzone and ex-Liverpool FC & Newcastle United footballer Kevin Keegan, with actor Roman Stefanski playing the Honey Monster, before changing to Gary Martin, in which played many roles, such as Zordrak in The Dreamstone.
Sugar Puffs are made from wheat, which is puffed using heat. The wheat puffs are then glazed with glucose-fructose syrup and sugar. Despite the emphasis on honey in advertising and branding, the product is only 3% honey.
There have been a number of variations on the basic product, including:
- Banana Puffs
- Choco Puffs
- Honey Waffles
- Spooky Puffs
- Honeycomb Puffs
- Strawberry Puffs
- Snowy Puffs
- Party Puffs
Sugar Puffs posters can clearly be seen in the 1966 film Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 AD. They helped to finance the film, and in return held a giveaway contest in which the grand prize was a Dalek prop made for the film.
The Honey Monster was first seen on TV in 1976 in an advertisement created by John Webster of the advertising agency BMP. The ad focused around a nutritional message which was illustrated by a parent (played by Henry McGee) and child (the Honey Monster) relationship. The parent was responsible for what the child was eating. The monster shouts "Tell them about the honey, mummy!" to which Henry McGee responds "I'm not his mummy!". The monster then proceeds to destroy the set.
In the late 1980s, "Sugar Puffs" advertisements featured the slogan "You'll Go Monster-Mad For The Honey". These advertisements portrayed children trying to get access to a packet of Sugar Puffs with someone or something then preventing them from getting the Sugar Puffs. The children would then cry "I Want My Honey!!" and they would then turn into Sugar Puffs Honey Monsters and thus get the Sugar Puffs.
There were a number of settings for these advertisements. The advertisements themselves were: (A) "Breakfast time": Where a boy tries to reach a packet of Sugar Puffs on a fairly high cupboard. (B) "School History Class":Where a class of children turned into the Honey Monster after seeing a Sugar Puffs delivery lorry pull up outside their classroom. (C) "Boyscouts": Where three boyscouts turned into the Honey Monster after their tent zipper failed to undo properly. (D) "Fairground": Where a girl tried to win a packet of Sugar Puffs at a hoop-throwing stall. (E) "School Tour". A futuristic advertisement which shows an a big bunch of boys and girls transform into the Honey Monster after they get shown around a lavish Sugar Puffs factory. (F) "Desert Island". A boy is sat at home wanting his "honey", because he cannot get milk out of the milk glass. He then gets shot out of space and back into the Earth on a Caribbean setting, as the monster. He now has milk.
After these advertisements, the Sugar Puffs Honey Monster was then seen in advertisements in which he was depicted playing soccer and also as a James Bond-style hero.
Punk poet, John Cooper Clarke, also featured in a series of off the wall adverts in the 90s - the campaign was very successful according to Clarke, himself.
In around 1996 (though possibly as early as 1993), the design of the Sugar Puffs monster changed to what he looks like now. His low voice somewhat remained the same. An advertisement showing him with Boyzone on stage at Wembley Arena and out in the press with the group aired in 1996, and was voted #17 in ITV's Best TV Ads Ever 2 list in 2006, sharing the position with the original 1976 advert. Another of the 1996 adverts showed him winning a football match. In 1998, an advert which depicted him as "Puff" Daddy aired. In 1999, an advert called Monster Men vs Breakin' Boyz aired. A modern style remake of the original 1976 advert aired in 2003.
In March 2008, a new campaign was launched with a television advertisement. The spot featured Honey Monster and his housemate sitting at their breakfast table, singing a nonsense song about Sugar Puffs, in the scat style. Finishing with the strapline ‘Feed the fun’, the advertisement represented the idea that Honey Monster brings out the child in everyone. The advert was criticised by Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding of the comedy duo The Mighty Boosh, who considered it to be a plagiarisation of the "crimping" songs in their television series.
In August 2008 the Honey Monster featured in a charity video and single by the group Samanda, called "Honey Love".
Another new advert was done for the Honey Waffles cereal variant, returning the Honey Monster to his true self along with his undying love for honey. The ad ends with the tagline (as said by the Honey Monster) "Don't tell 'em about the honey, mummy", a reference to the Sugar Puffs endline from the 1970s.
In popular culture
Sugar Puffs is mentioned in almost every performance of the hit West End musical, Billy Elliot. When Billy is trying to find an excuse to leave the house, he keeps on coming up with things to go to the shop for; one of them is Sugar Puffs.
The Honey Monster was used as part of a recurring gag in the film Four Lions when one of the main characters uses an outfit of the character as a disguise in the final act.
- Honey Smacks (aka Smacks, Sugar Smacks, Honni Korn Smacks)
- Post's Golden Crisp
- Honey Wheats, Honey Wheat
- Mark Tungate, Adland: A Global History of Advertising, Kogan Page Publishers, London, 2007, p.92.