Life (cereal)

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Life cereal logo.png
That's life (3140446824).jpg
Product typeBreakfast cereal
OwnerQuaker Oats
Introduced1961; 60 years ago (1961)

Life (stylized as life) is a breakfast cereal made by the Quaker Oats Company, a subsidiary of PepsiCo. It was formerly made of oats, soy protein concentrate, sodium casienate and sugar,[citation needed] but now also contains corn flour, whole wheat flour, and rice flour. Introduced in 1961,[1] the cereal is distinguished by its characteristic brown checkered squares in a finer pattern than Chex cereal.

Advertisements for Life cereal sport the slogan "Life is full of surprises". As of 2018, with the advent of numerous specialty varieties, the original cereal is now marketed as "Life Original Multigrain Cereal" with 20 grams of whole grains promoted in a red heart symbol. There is also the claim that: "Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may help reduce the risk of heart disease."

History of advertising[edit]

Life was popularized during the 1970s by an advertising campaign featuring "Little Mikey", a hard-to-please four-year-old boy portrayed by John Gilchrist. His two older brothers were portrayed by his real-life brothers, Michael and Tommy.[2] The commercials featured the slogan/catchphrase "He likes it! Hey Mikey!"

The ad campaign was created by ad firm Doyle Dane and Bernbach.[3] The campaign ran from 1972 to 1986,[4] becoming one of the longest-running television advertisements in history. As recently as 1999, the commercial was included in a list of "memorable ads".[5] A subsequent commercial repeated the scenario with the same dialog, but used lumberjacks instead of children.

Earlier, when Life cereal was first introduced in the 1960s, the original slogan was "The most useful protein ever in a ready-to-eat cereal". The original mascots (in commercials narrated by Paul Frees) were little munchkin-like characters.[citation needed]


Life cereal with banana slices

In 1978, "Cinnamon Life" which was developed by Ed Heaton was introduced, followed shortly thereafter by "Raisin Life". Today, Cinnamon Life accounts for one third of total Life sales. Raisin Life sold poorly and was discontinued in the mid 1980s.

In 2002,[6] a short-lived version called "Baked Apple Life" was released. "Honey Graham Life" was introduced in early 2004, "Life Vanilla Yogurt Crunch" in late 2005, and another new flavor, "Life Chocolate Oat Crunch", in 2006. All three were eventually discontinued in 2008.

In 2008, Quaker introduced another new version, "Maple & Brown Sugar Life". In the fall of 2016, "Vanilla Life" cereal was released, while Maple & Brown Sugar Life has become more scarce. In Canada and certain regions of the United States, there is also "Multigrain Life".

Newer varieties include Pumpkin Spice Life, Gingerbread Life, and Strawberry Life.

Original Life has been reformulated several times since its introduction, sometimes unsuccessfully. Most recently, in 1997, Quaker introduced a "New and Improved" version; consumer response was unfavorable and Quaker quickly reverted to the earlier formula.

Nutrition and ingredients[edit]

In 2010, Life was featured on the Eat This, Not That website. It was categorized as a healthy cereal but was criticized for its content of the yellow food dye "Yellow 5", or tartrazine. The original cereal also contains disodium phosphate, the preservative BHT, yellow 6, and pyridoxine hydrochloride.


  1. ^ "About Quaker - Quaker History". 2014-07-17. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  2. ^ "'Hey Mikey!' 15 years later, Life cereal kid is back", Anchorage Daily News, October 17, 1986
  3. ^ Cross, Mary (2002). A Century of American Icons: 100 Products and Slogans from the 20th-Century Consumer Culture. Greenwood Press. pp. 167–168. ISBN 978-0313314810. Retrieved 4 September 2020.
  4. ^ [1] Archived June 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Memorable TV ads riveted us", The Spectator, November 22, 1999
  6. ^ " - CBSi". Archived from the original on 13 November 2004. Retrieved 24 January 2016.

External links[edit]