The Little Caesars Batman Calzony makes me happy. Not so much the product itself – it’s Little Caesars pizza in a different shape – but what it represents, the kind of ridiculous promotions it seemed like every wannabe blockbuster had when I was growing up. A new Batman movie? OF COURSE there’s gonna be pizza vaguely shaped like a bat, even if it has nothing to do with the movie and is a tonal mismatch on every level! And over the years, Batman has seen plenty of these kinds of promotions. Tonight, I wanted to highlight a few of those.
Batman Cereal (Ralston, 1989)
I’ll be honest, I don’t remember what the cereal tasted like at all. The box says “natural honey nut flavor”; I’ve seen others say it was closer to Captain Crunch. But boy, do I remember that bank. This was a top tier cereal freebie – it was big, it looked exactly like Keaton’s Batman thanks to the clever use of stickers, and what kid didn’t need banks to hold coins? I’m pretty sure I still have it somewhere in my parents’ house.
There are also a surprising number of sellers on eBay who have sealed boxes of this cereal available, if anyone’s feeling brave and wants to try three decade old batpuffs.
Batman Returns Happy Meal (McDonald’s, 1992 )
As far as Happy Meal toys go these were okay; my favorite was the Batmobile that launched the front half of the vehicle when you push the button between the fins. But I wanted to mention this because, for some reason, parents thought this movie where a mutant oozing black ichor bites a guy’s nose off shouldn’t be marketed towards kids. There was actually a backlash against both WB and McDonald’s for this, which led to this absolutely amazing quote.
Warner Bros. also claims that the Happy Meal promotion isn’t tied to the movie but to the 53-year-old Batman character. ”We were careful not to provide actual toys from the movie,” says a Warner spokeswoman. She insists that Batman Returns is rated responsibly in comparison with other PG movies, like Hook and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which also were considered not suitable for young children. ”Clearly Batman is not meant for 5-year-olds. As for whether it’s appropriate to Happy Meals, that’s up to McDonald’s. We don’t tell them their business.”
The toys aren’t linked to the movie, but also the movie is rated appropriately, but also it’s not meant for kids, but also it’s all McDonald’s fault. AMAZING. I don’t think I’ve seen a more perfect PR deflection. And to be fair, it’s been a few years since my last rewatch but I don’t recall Catwoman driving a giant purple cat-shaped car with a swishing tail.
Surprisingly, a lesson actually was learned here. While McDonald’s did do a Batman Forever promotion a few years later, there were no Happy Meal toys – only those awesome glasses you can now find in any thrift store in America.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Cereals (General Mills, 2016)
While I’m not a fan of the movie, I do appreciate how much some of the tie-ins committed to the “versus” part of the title. Batman and Superman not only each got their own unique cereal, but General Mills also sent out this elaborate promo package with a Superman cape, Batman mask, both cereals, and a bowl and spoon in case you somehow didn’t own those already. Unfortunately for Batman, though, I thought Superman’s caramel cereal was a clear victor over Batman’s chocolate strawberry flavor.
Dark Knight Brownie Bite Ice Cream (Edy’s, 2018)
And last, but not least, ice cream. This wasn’t tied to any specific movie, but because I am an adult I picked it for my birthday one year and ended up loving it. And like all recent Batman releases, it’s as dark as possible.
It’s ice cream fit for a superhero! Our Dreyer’s Dark Knight Brownie Bite Ice Cream features light chocolate ice cream with Batman chocolate pieces, brownie chunks and a fudge swirl – a dessert that Gotham City deserves. Not only is this chocolate and brownie ice cream delicious, it’s made with wholesome ingredients, fresh milk and cream with no rBST and no artificial colors or flavors. For extra fun, each quart of ice cream includes comics on the back! Collect all four comics from Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman to read an exclusive adventure.
Eventually, Joker and Harley Quinn got their own flavors in this line too. It’s since been discontinued, which is a shame – it’s second in my mind only to Chunky Toy Funilla, the Toy Story 2 tie-in ice cream.
If you have any favorite tie-in promotions, be they Batman, fast food, or something else, I’d love it if you posted about them. Have a good night, everybody!