From the Archives, August 30, 2020

Box Tops

This week we look at a little program game. Every week, single serve cereals were a common component of breakfast. And on top of those little plastic containers? Removable branded squares of aluminum back joy: box tops.

Box tops were an internal staff game that spilled into dining hall program. A staff member would stand up, present an incredible story of need or want, and explain that the only way that X staff member could achieve this goal was by collecting box tops.

For instance, Jason Shumaker would stand up and tell a tale of woe and opportunity. Jason Bradford needed to go to college. General Mills promised him a scholarship if he could collect 1000 box tops by the end of the summer. Before you know it, Jason Bradford is swarmed by young Scouts every morning with boxtops in hand. Usually, Jason Bradford did not know this was coming until he was too late. After a morning or two, he may retaliate with a box top challenge of his own.

As the summer wore on, the stipulations to the challenges may get more extravagant. Only Golden Grahams box tops could be accepted. Only box tops that were not ripped were accepted. The box tops were for helping someone buy a boat or maybe someone needed some new Scouts socks. Once, they were used to sponsor a cow. Don’t ask, we don’t understand either.

Quite prominent in the 1980s and 1990s, the box top may have existed earlier than the 1980s, but we haven’t found mention of it. It also may have continued beyond the 1990s, but again, we haven’t seen a mention of it. It seems to be a program experience unique to the Willhite years.

Seen here is a Golden Grahams self-serve container found on Amazon.com. Sadly, we have no photos of this exquisite phenomenon.

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