Cap'n Crunch was developed to recall a recipe of brown sugar and butter over rice, requiring innovation of a special baking process—as the cereal was one of the first to use an oil coating for flavor delivery.
—William Low, Pamela Low's brother
Pamela Low, a flavorist at Arthur D. Little, developed the original Cap'n Crunch flavor in 1963—recalling a recipe of brown sugar and butter her grandmother Luella Low served over rice at her home in Derry, New Hampshire. Before developing the flavor, the cereal already had a marketing plan, and once having arrived at the flavor coating for Cap'n Crunch, Low described it as giving the cereal a quality she called "want-more-ishness". After her death in 2007, the Boston Globe called Low "the mother of Cap'n Crunch." At Arthur D. Little, Low had also worked on the flavors for Heath, Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars.
In 1965, the Quaker Oats Company awarded the Fredus N. Peters Award to Robert Rountree Reinhart, Sr. for his leadership in directing the development team of Cap'n Crunch. Reinhart developed a technique in the manufacture of Cap'n Crunch, using oil in its recipe as a flavor delivery mechanism—which initially presented problems in having the cereal bake properly.
The product line is heralded by a cartoon mascot named Cap'n Crunch. The mascot is depicted as a late 18th-century naval captain, an older man with white eyebrows and a white moustache, who wears a Revolutionary-style naval uniform: a bicorne hat emblazoned with a "C" and a gold-epauletted blue coat with gold bands on the sleeves. While typically an American naval captain wears four bars on his sleeves, the mascot has been variously depicted over the years wearing only one bar (commodore), two bars (lieutenant), or three bars (commander).
According to a humorous 2013 Wall Street Journal article, the mascot, whose full name is Horatio Magellan Crunch, captains a ship called the Guppy, and was born "on Crunch Island in the Sea of Milk – a magical place with talking trees, crazy creatures and a whole mountain (Mt. Crunchmore) made out of Cap'n Crunch cereal." The article refers to the Captain's bicorne as a "Napoleon-style" hat, and claims that this has led to speculation that he may be French. According to CrunchFacts, a news outlet dedicated to the mascot, Horatio Crunch has a perfect 200 IQ.
Cap'n Crunch's original animated television commercials featured the slogan, "It's got corn for crunch, oats for punch, and it stays crunchy, even in milk."
In 2013, sources including the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times reported that the three stripes on the mascot's uniform indicate a rank of Commander and not the four needed on his uniform to be a Captain. In jest, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Navy had no record of Crunch and that NCIS was investigating him for impersonating a naval officer.
Daws Butler provided the original voice of the Cap'n until his death in 1988. Author Philip Wylie wrote a series of short stories, Crunch and Des, beginning in the 1940s, which featured a similarly named character, Captain Crunch Adams. The Cap'n Crunch commercials have historically used basic cartoon animation by Jay Ward Productions. Vinton Studios produced a claymation ad during the 1980s.
- Cap'n Crunch: The original Cap'n Crunch cereal is made of sweetened, yellow, square-shaped cereal pieces made by combining corn and oats. The cereal was launched in 1963, bolstered by a successful advertising campaign created by noted animator Jay Ward introducing the cereal's longtime naval mascot, Cap'n Crunch.
- Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries: Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries cereal was introduced in 1967 and contained, in addition to the yellow pieces found in the original Cap'n Crunch, spherical red Crunch Berry pieces. There was a version of Crunch Berries available briefly in which the berries, instead of being spherical, were three small berries in a cluster. The Crunch Berry Beast mascot was introduced alongside the cereal. There are currently four Crunch Berry colors: red, green (introduced in 2002), blue, and purple (both introduced in the '90s). All the berry pieces are flavored the same, regardless of color.
- Peanut Butter Crunch: First released in 1969, with a large elephant named Smedley as its mascot; according to sales charts, this version was the most successful at the time. It consists of peanut butter-flavored corn puffs.
- Punch Crunch, Vanilly Crunch, Jean LaFoote's Cinnamon Crunch: Three more editions issued in the early 1970s but later discontinued. Punch Crunch was fruit-flavored cereal rings (similar to the General Mills cereal Cheerios) introduced in 1973 and the mascot was a sailor suit-clad hippopotamus named Harry S. Hippo. Jean LaFoote's Cinnamon Crunch featured cinnamon-flavored cereal and was also introduced in 1973. Vanilly Crunch was a vanilla-flavored cereal introduced in 1971 with Seadog as the former mascot, which was replaced with Wilma the White Whale.
- Choco Crunch: In 1982, a variant called Choco Crunch, featuring the mascot "Chockle the Blob", was introduced. This version contained the yellow corn squares, plus chocolate-flavored pieces similar to Crunch Berries.
- Chocolatey Crunch: Introduced in 2011, consisting of chocolate-flavored corn squares, but was discontinued in July 2016 due to poor sales.
- Christmas Crunch: A special edition first released for the 1987 Christmas holiday season. It contains the signature Cap'n Crunch yellow corn squares with red and green Crunch Berries. Currently, the Crunch Berries are shaped as Christmas-themed items (shapes vary yearly) and the cereal is packaged in a holiday-themed box with the Cap'n wearing a Santa Claus or winter-themed hat (box color and hat type varies yearly). Originally when the cereal was introduced, the Crunch Berries were spherical-shaped and the cereal contained a toy or Christmas tree ornament inside the box.  On a few occasions, the cereal has been packaged with a packed-in food gimmick to add to the cereal, like Jingle Bell Rock pieces that changed the milk's color or sprinkled icing.
- Deep Sea Crunch: A version of the cereal introduced in 1993, which featured Crunch Berries shaped like sea creatures. This version was discontinued, but returned in 2009.
- Oops! All Berries: First released in 1997, "Oops! All Berries" contained nothing but the berry-flavored Crunch Berries and none of the corn squares. This version was discontinued the following year. In 2008, 2009, and again in 2010, "Oops! All Berries" has made limited time only returns. Recent boxes do not state "Limited Time Only" printed on the box. Current "Oops! All Berries" colors are red, green, blue and purple.
- Halloween Crunch: A limited edition version of the cereal introduced in 2007. This includes green Crunch Berries in the form of ghosts.
- Galactic Crunch: A discontinued version which featured space-related marshmallows.
- Choco Doughnuts: A discontinued version which featured chocolate-flavored doughnut-shaped cereal rings with candy sprinkles.
- Home Run Crunch: A limited edition version of the cereal, currently available, released in 1995 which featured baseball-related marshmallows, like home plates, caps and mitts. It has the flavor of Crunch Berries, but the pieces of the cereal are shaped as bats and balls. It occasionally comes back during the summer.
- Cap'n Crunch's Mystery Volcano Crunch: Red and yellow fruit-flavored Crunch Berries with "'free' packet of lava rocks that pop in milk!".
- Cap'n Crunch's Oops! Smashed Berries: "Oops! All Berries" cereal with flat Crunch Berries that the kids smashed.
- Cap'n Crunch's CoZmic Crunch: Star-shaped Crunch Berries with "orange space dust that turns milk green".
- Polar Crunch: A version of the cereal in which the Crunch Berries change color to blue when milk is poured on them.
- Cinnamon Roll Crunch: Released in 2013.
- Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Treasures: Star-shaped crunchy yellow corn and oat rings. Contains half the sugar of regular Cap'n Crunch.
- Cap'n Crunch Bars: Later called Cap'n Crunch Treats, they were marshmallow treats similar to Rice Krispies Treats and came in Cap'n Crunch, Crunch Berries and Peanut Butter Crunch varieties.
- Airhead Berries: A crossover between Airheads candy and Cap'n Crunch cereal.
- Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch: Released in 2014. Donut-flavored cereal rings with candy sprinkles.
- Cap'n Crunch's Orange Creampop Crunch: Modeled after nostalgic orange/vanilla popsicles.
- Cap'n Crunch's Blueberry Pancake Crunch: Released in 2016. Features blue, light blue and white corn and oat puffs with natural and artificial blueberry and maple syrup flavoring.
- Superman Crunch: Turned the milk blue.
- Cap'n Crunch's Chocolately Crunch Berries: Released in 2019. A Crunch Berries cereal with chocolate-flavored corn squares and red Crunch Berries.
- Cap'n Crunch's Strawberry Shortcake Crunch: Released in 2019. A Crunch Berries cereal with shortcake-flavored doughnut-shaped cereal and red Crunch Berries.
- Shea, Stuart (2006). The 1960s' most wanted. Dulles, Virginia: Potomac Books. p. 60. ISBN 1-57488-721-1.
- Umstattd, Thomas, Jr. (7 November 2008). "Bob Reinhart, Inventor of Captain Crunch, Dies at Age 84". ThomasUmstattd.com.
- Pescovitz, David (June 7, 2007). "Pamela Low, Cap'n Crunch creator, RIP". Boingboing.net.
- "Pamela Low, 79; created flavored coating for Cap'n Crunch cereal". Los Angeles Times. June 6, 2007.
- Marquard, Bryan (June 7, 2007). "Pamela Low; kin's treat inspired creation of Cap'n Crunch flavor". Boston Globe.
- Gregg, John P. (June 3, 2007). "Love the Guilty Pleasure of Cap'n Crunch? Thank New London's Pam Low". Valley News. p. 1.
- "Meet the Mother of Cap'n Crunch". Alumni Profiles. University of New Hampshire.
- Sassone, Bob (June 9, 2007). "Inventor of Cap 'n Crunch dead at 79". SlashFood.com. Huffington Post.
- Nissenbaum, Dion (June 19, 2013). "U.S. Navy: No Record of Cap'n Crunch Service". Wall Street Journal blog.
- "Captain Crunch for Lunch". Crunch Facts. 2018-05-09. Retrieved 2018-05-15.
- Bruce, Scott; Crawford, Bill (1995). Cerealizing America: The Unsweetened Story of American Breakfast Cereal. Boston: Faber and Faber. p. 216. ISBN 0-571-19851-1.
- "Cereal fibber? Cap'n Crunch fights charge he's really a commander". Washington Times. 2013-06-18. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- "Daws Butler Biography". IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
- "OBITUARIES : Daws Butler; Voice of Well-Known Cartoon Characters". Los Angeles Times. 1988-05-20. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
- "Daws Butler, Characters Actor". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
- "The Voices of Cap'n Crunch Cereal (1963, Commercial) - Voice Cast Listing". Voicechasers.com. Retrieved 2013-12-20.
- Wylie, Philip (1940), The Big Ones Get Away!, Farrar & Rinehart, Inc.; republished at Google Books
- "Vinton Studio Commercials". animateclay.com. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
- Jorgensen, Janice (1994). Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands. St. James Press. pp. 99–101. ISBN 1-55862-336-1.
- "Cereal of the Eighties, Punch Crunch". In the 80s. Retrieved 2008-06-27.
- "From the Cap'n To You! Christmas Crunch". X-Entertainment. 2003-12-12. Retrieved 2008-01-06.
- "Cap'n Crunch & Friends Cereal Family". MrBreakfast.com.
- "Oops! All Berries (Cap'n Crunch) Cereal". MrBreakfast.com. Retrieved 2013-06-24.
- "Cap'n Crunch Crunch Treasures". CerealWednesday.com. May 11, 2011. Retrieved July 13, 2011.
- "Airhead Berries". MrBreakfast.com.