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How To Design A $10 Cereal

by Rudy Sanchez on 02/06/2020 | 4 Minute Read

One of the difficulties in sticking to a strict diet like keto is missing out on stuff that ultimately puts an end to said diet. Foods loaded with carbohydrates like bread, pasta, and breakfast cereals are counterproductive to a high fat and protein regimen like keto. 

Sure, keto-friendly facsimiles to favorites like bread or pizza exist, but those longing for cereal have little choice but to look forlornly at kids munching on a bowl full of sugary hoops swimming in milk.

That was, until the arrival of Magic Spoon, a keto-friendly breakfast cereal that promises to satiate the urge for that classic taste without the carbs. Despite the hefty price tag (each box of cereal costs nearly $10), Magic Spoon has a growing legion of fans.

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The brand tasked design agency Gander with creating the identity, packaging, website, and photography for Magic Spoon. While the food itself is a keto-remix of kids' cereal, they aimed the product at adults looking for a healthy version of that pleasantly delicious childhood staple, so Magic Spoon has to evoke nostalgia without being perceived as a typical morning meal full of sugar full of not-so keto-friendly ingredients.

“Magic Spoon came to us with a laser-focused mission to create an identity that embodied healthy, keto-friendly cereal that actually tastes as good as the stuff you had growing up," says Mike McVicar, partner and creative director at Gander. "Their goal was to deliver on taste, transport consumers back to that childhood feeling, and create a cult following. We started by exploring that magical feeling of childhood and how we could recreate it for modern adults."

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Recreating the same childhood experience of eating a big bowl of frosty sweet yum was not only a culinary challenge but also one that required the entire experience to be recreated and updated for a grown-up audience trying to stay in ketosis. 

“We loved the idea of transporting everyday people from their boring life to the world of Magic Spoon," Mike says. "Initially, we looked at surrealist artists and M.C. Escher whose work turned reality on its head. From there, we knew we wanted to create a modern-classic cereal box that paid homage to nostalgic cereal boxes but didn’t feel too childish."

They landed on illustrator Levi Jacobs, whose work encapsulated everything they were going for. "He loves drawing large creatures and magical worlds, so it was a perfect fit," Mike adds. "We worked together to create a cast of characters that hearkened back to classic cereal mascots and told the story of transporting everyday people into the world of each of the flavors.”

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And for the adults that were the kind of kid that stared at the cereal box while eating breakfast (you know, when iPads weren’t a thing), Gander took care to update the all-too-important back panel of the box. “To hit on the nostalgia again, we even put an ‘adult’ puzzle on the back of the box. It’s a maze, and it’s pretty dang hard,” Mike says. 

“The mazes on the back of the boxes were a fun thing to create," he adds. "We had to generate unique mazes for all the boxes that fit within our specs and figure out the correct level of difficulty for adults.”

Gander not only had to recreate a sense of whimsical nostalgia for an adult breakfast cereal, but their boxes still had to inform consumers that it was keto-friendly while not distracting from the fun.

“I think the challenge for Magic Spoon was creating a ‘healthy’ cereal brand that didn’t look like a ‘healthy’ brand," Mike says.

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"It still had to communicate the benefits," he adds. "At the end of the day, we built the brand on the belief that cereal should be fun, and we had to trust consumers to see that better-for-you could still look like this. The result was a brand that wasn’t overtly healthy-looking and offered an experience that we hope adults are excited to be a part of,” Mike says.

While the keto craze continues to sweep the marketplace, those embarking on the diet fad might feel the sticker shock when they come across Magic Spoon and its playful branding, but the upstart cereal purveyor is betting on those tried and true consumer cravings.

And can you really put a price tag on nostalgia?