At the 1904 World Fair, the Quaker Oats Company made a candy-coated puffed cereal, a wheat-based product similar to Cracker Jack's candy-coated popcorn. The product concept was re-introduced unsuccessfully in 1939 by another business as Ranger Joe, the first pre-sweetened, candy-coated breakfast cereal. Post Foods introduced their own version in 1948. The Post version was originally called Happy Jax, and was renamed to Sugar Crisp the next year. The name was later changed to Super Sugar Crisp, and in 1985, it was changed again to Super Golden Crisp. Finally, it was changed to Golden Crisp (during a time when many cereals dropped the word "Sugar" from their titles) in the American market.
In the early 1970s, there was a short-lived variation on the original Sugar Crisp, called Super Orange Crisp, which had orange-flavored O's in it.
The product is still sold as Sugar Crisp in Canada. In Canada, the box still displays the Sugar Bear mascot and the phrase "Can't get enough of that Sugar Crisp."
Advertisements in the 1950s positioned this sugar cereal as being appropriate to eat for breakfast, as a snack, or as candy, similar to candy-coated popcorn products like Cracker Jack. Early advertisements featured three animated cartoon bears named Candy, Handy, and Dandy as the mascots. The early slogan said, "As a cereal it's dandy—for snacks it's so handy—or eat it like candy!"
Later television advertisements feature one mascot, an anthropomorphic cartoon bear character known as Sugar Bear, who sings the jingle, "Can't get enough of that Golden Crisp." In commercials, Sugar Bear could turn into "Super Bear" upon eating it. This was dropped in the mid-late 1980s, where he would simply defeat his foes with a "vitamin-packed punch" as Sugar Bear. The jingle was also appended to include "it's got the crunch with punch", although this was dropped in later years. Sugar Bear's voice, provided by Gerry Matthews for forty years, was reminiscent of Bing Crosby or Dean Martin.
The focus of advertising shifted from targeting children to including parents, by downplaying the sweet taste (and associated sugar content).
In 1975, Super Orange Crisp was found to contain almost 71 percent sugar by dentist Ira Shannon, who became tired of seeing so many cavities in his patients' mouths and bought hundreds of boxes of sugary breakfast cereal and analyzed the contents of each in a lab.
In a 2008 comparison of the nutritional value of 27 cereals, U.S. magazine Consumer Reports found that Post's Golden Crisp and Kellogg's Honey Smacks were the two brands with the highest sugar content—more than 50 percent (by weight)—commenting that one serving of this or other high-sugar cereals contained at least as much sugar "as there is in a glazed doughnut from Dunkin' Donuts". The two cereals are both sweetened puffed wheat. Consumer Reports recommended parents to choose cereal brands with better nutritional ratings for their children.
- The theme song was referenced in The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror X" segment titled "I Know What You Diddly-Iddly Did", where Homer sings the Sugar Crisp theme, before singing "Guess I forgot to put the fog lights in," to the same tune prior to Marge hitting a werewolf Flanders with the car.
- The cereal also appears in The Sopranos, Season 4, Episode 12 "Eloise".
- The Birth of Frosted Flakes. Neatorama, March 11, 2013
- Kawash, Samira (2013-10-15). Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure. Macmillan. pp. 287–289 and color plate #15. ISBN 9780865477568.
- Moss, Michael. Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. New York: Random House, 2013. 73-74, 81. ISBN 978-0812982190
- Super Orange Crisp, short-lived spin-off cereal.
- Some Breakfast Cereals Marketed to Kids Are More Than 50 Percent Sugar consumerreports.org, October 1, 2008