Dorri Partain

Hey, shoppers! Save 15 cents off the price of the cereal that is “a glowing part of a good breakfast.”
As developed by General Mills, “ET” cereal was a two grain (corn and oat) sweetened cereal flavored with “ET’s favorite flavors,” chocolate and peanut butter. The cereal pieces were shaped as capital E’s and T’s.

Directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” was released on June 11, 1982, and went on to become the top movie that year, grossing $359 million at the box office.

Spielberg used a story concept written by screenwriter/director John Sayles named “Night Skies” and had Melissa Matheson (1950-2015) write the screenplay. Matheson was married to actor Harrison Ford from 1983 to 2004 and won the Saturn Award for Best Writing for her work.

As written in the screenplay and the subsequent novelization, Elliott used M&M candies to lure the extraterrestrial into his home, but M&M/Mars didn’t want that product placement in the movie. Released in 1978, Reece’s Pieces, a similar-shaped candy, saw the opportunity to promote their product and their sales tripled after the movie was released.

Through licensing with Universal City Studios, various products bearing E.T.’s so-ugly-he’s-cute image began appearing in stores, including bedspreads, sheet sets, curtains, towels and plush toys.

Due to the time frame to produce a recipe and marketing concept, the cereal was not introduced until 1984. The coupon pictured here was inserted into the box to be used on the next purchase; coupons were also offered for 25 cents off. While the cereal was flavored with chocolate and peanut butter, Reece’s Pieces only contains peanut butter, not chocolate.

While the coupon had no expiration date, the cereal was discontinued in 1986. General Mills began making Reece’s Puffs cereal using a similar recipe, a combination of chocolate and peanut butter, in a round corn puff in 1994.