Why do American expatriates search for Lucky Charms, an obscure box of breakfast cereal, on St. Patrick's Day?

From the Dept. of American Childhood Myths — Why do expatriates search for an obscure breakfast cereal — Lucky Charms — on St. Patrick’s Day?

by Bob Page on 15 March 2012

In the United States there is a breakfast cereal called “Lucky Charms.” It has the mythical-childhood-product qualities of Nutella in Italy or Vegemite in Australia. The cereal is pedestrian, but its marketing is brilliant. The cereal consists of sugar-coated oats and bits of colored marshmallows. Ask Americans about Lucky Charms, and they will automatically quote a line from the cereal’s advertising, “they’re magically delicious,” even if they’ve never eaten them.

If an American forces you to eat Lucky Charms on Saturday, this information may comfort you:

1. General Mills has developed the Irish leprechaun iconography of Lucky Charms since 1964. Completely evolved from the tough, dusty, dull orange stars and yellow moons of the 1960s, the new marshmallows contain precise multi-colored rainbows, shooting stars, and time-stopping hourglasses. The company must have recruited engineers from NASA to design extrusion equipment for these bits.

2. The twee Irish accent you hear in the voice of the American singing to you from the cereal’s jingle – “Everyone’s after me Lucky Charms” – is the actor Arthur Anderson. He supplied the voice of Lucky the Leprechaun, the cereal’s animated spokesperson, for almost 30 years. Anderson is not Irish.

3. It may be possible to buy Lucky Charms cereal in Dublin on Friday, but you will need to go on a specialty food store quest and pay about 8 euros.

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