Published on April 4th, 2014 | by Josh Hafner

Creepy fact: Cereal mascots are staring at you

Cereal: We all eat it. We all love it. What we don’t love is being creepily started at by a leprechaun, a talking rabbit or a navy captain named Crunch.

But that’s exactly what’s happening every time you walk down the cereal aisle. A new Cornell study found that cereal mascots are designed to make eye contact with you as you shop in stores.

Researches studied 86 different characters on the boxes of 65 types of cereal, as the Los Angeles Times reports:

Each character was analyzed by the angle of its gaze, 4 feet from the shelf. This is thought to be the standard distance shoppers stand from shelves. 

They found characters on boxes marketed to children made eye contact with kids at a downward angle, while boxes marketed to adults made eye contact with adult shoppers at a straight or slightly upward angle. Boxes geared toward children were placed on bottom shelves and those for adults were put on the top shelves.

The study also found that people feel more connected to a cereal’s brand if a character on the box is looking straight at the consumer rather than, say, the cereal on the box itself.

Those who felt the Trix rabbit made eye contact with them trusted the brand 16 percent more and felt 28 percent more connected to it.

About the Author

covers young professionals for The Des Moines Register. Josh can be reached at or on Twitter via @joshhafner.

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