August 03, 2021

Why are so many cereal boxes yellow?

By alan keery
Why are so many cereal boxes yellow?

It was a Tuesday afternoon and I was walking down the same cereal aisle I’d walked down countless times before, seeing the same cereal boxes, brands, and mascots looking back at me when suddenly I was slapped in the face with the realisation, why are so many cereal boxes yellow? And why have I not noticed this before?

 At first, I thought, are these cereal boxes using some sort of brainwashing mind tricks to get me to spend my cash, and it turns out that exactly what they are doing!

 When it comes to cereal box design, it’s not just about finding a cute animal giving it human qualities, and a memorable cutesy name. The cereal companies have hacked our brains and know it takes 3-5 seconds for someone to find their preferred cereal brand when hitting the cereal aisle, and the brain registers colour quicker than text or graphics, but which colour does the brain process first, yep it’s yellow. Yellow is also the happy colour, and when we see it, our brain releases serotonin, which would make us feel pretty cheery about buying our new yellow cereal product. Yellow, along with red is known as an appetite stimulant, so let’s revisit the line-up of yellow boxes, yep this double hunger-inducing colour combo is heavily utilised.

And it’s not just the Cereal aisle you’ll see the appetising yellow and red colours, most fast-food chains have one, or both, of these tummy rumbling colours.

 Back in 2017, Cheerio’s, who have been selling their iconic loops in yellow boxes since the 1940s, tried to trademark the Yellow box, they clearly knew the value in yellow so much that they wanted to be the only box on the cereal shelves dressed in that colour. Ultimately the trademark claim was rejected because there are multiple cereal brands already using yellow boxes, and that Cheerio’s claim was, well, dumb.

 So now you know this info, you’ll probably start seeing yellow and red every, so next time you want to buy something, just stop and think, do I actually want to buy it or am I being brainwashed by this delicious colour combination.