Diving Tony the Tiger™ | Cereal Box Prize

DivingTonyIt was always a treat for a kid to find a toy in a box of cereal. This prize was offered in the 1980s by Kellogg’s in their Frosted Flakes cereal. At that time we lived in the western suburbs of Chicago. I was active in a physics teacher group that met monthly in order to share teaching ideas and demonstrations. There were two other groups for the northwest and the southwest suburban areas, as well as a group active in Chicago itself.

Once a year all of the groups met at a central college campus for an evening of sharing and give-aways. Melanie suggested that I should write to Kellogg’s and request some Diving Tony toys to give away to the teachers at the next meeting. That I did. Kellogg’s sent me a free boxful of perhaps 100 of the toy. Needless to say, Tony was a big hit with the physics teachers. Everyone got to take Diving Tony the Tiger home to show their students.

Recently, we were watching NCIS, one of Melanie’s favorite shows. There was a scene in which a small diving toy-like device was used to show how some criminals accessed their underwater drug stash. We both looked at each other, laughed, and said ‘Diving Tony!’ That prompted me to write to Kellogg’s again.

Dear Kellogg’s

In the mid-80s, I wrote to Kellogg’s and requested a large number of Diving Tony the Tiger toys to give away to my fellow physics teachers at a large meeting. The company graciously obliged and sent me a box of them. There might have been 100 in that box.

Do you have some background information about that promotion that I can read? History, popularity, how many the company gave away in cereal boxes, etc. I am not able to find much on your site or anywhere else.

Thank you … Jim



Thank you for taking the time to contact us. To better assist you with this, we ask if at all possible. If you could can send or email us an image of the item that was provided (tony the tiger toys) ?

Thanks again, Jim, for contacting us.


This video should be helpful. It was posted by Doug McCoy on YouTube.



We appreciate you following up with the link to the YouTube video showing the diving Tony premium offered in 1987.

While details are limited on this item, I was able to find out that this was an extremely popular item that we offered in the 1980s. Over 27 million were packaged in boxes of Frosted Flakes in 1987 between October and December. Additionally, there was a “Tony’s Treasure Hunt” on the side of the box that could be placed behind a water source and used as a game. With 4 different depths, it was your objective to be able to get Tony to each depth and back to the surface.

Please know that your comments regarding our past premiums are valued and will be shared with the team.

Thank you again, Jim, for contacting us. We wish you all the best.


I found this comment posted 2 years ago on the YouTube channel below the video.

Nostalgia Factor…
I had a friend who dove Tony in a bottle then capped and sealed it with tape. He hid that sealed bottle in a closet for years. I told this story to another one of my friends & his eyes lit up, regaling me with his love for that lost toy. we rescued Diver Tony from the closest & took that thing everywhere. I once visited a rest stop on I-23 near Battle Creek, MI where Kellogs were having a demo. Met Tony the Tiger and showed him my Diver Tony. He did a little dance and took a picture with me.


28 thoughts on “Diving Tony the Tiger™ | Cereal Box Prize

  1. Karen

    You’re having way too much fun!! Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, when science was something everyone enjoyed 🙂

  2. jimfetig

    I don’t know how many times I (actually my parents) sent two box tops and sometimes a dime to Battle Creek, Michigan for a cereal premium that wasn’t in the box. I’d check the mail everyday until it would arrive. My favorite was a Hopalong Cassidy watch which I immediately broke by winding it too tightly.

    Related to this genre, my mother’s hobby was garage sales. Among other things, she collected cereal prizes and Happy Meal toys which she would resell as collectibles. I can remember bushel baskets full of them stored in her basement.

    As Bob – Battle Creek – Hope used to sing, “Thanks for the memories,” and the trip down nostalgia lane.

    1. Jim Ruebush Post author

      I remember watching Death Valley Days with Mom which started in 1952. I was 5. She ordered a wooden conestoga wagon kit from a promotion offered by the show. We got it and put it together. It must have been 18″ long. That was fun.

  3. BJ Good

    Fun piece of marketing history you’ve shared, Jim! I don’t recall ever seeing that particular prize, but then Frosted Flakes weren’t a staple in our breakfast cupboard. I do recall from an even earlier time a small gray submarine toy that required baking soda to power it but no idea where my brother acquired it.

  4. shoreacres

    I don’t remember any prizes in cereal, although I must have had them. On the other hand, I kept going through phases where I wanted things like tomato soup and cold meatloaf for breakfast — not many prizes with that, except, of course, that my mother granted my request. (That one lasted for six months.)

    What I most remember is a metal chicken that laid marble eggs when you pressed down on it. And, I had a metal wind-up firetruck that was pretty cool.

      1. shoreacres

        No, I wasn’t at all a fussy eater (except for Brussels sprouts, and a disinclination toward lettuce.) I just really, really liked meatloaf. The taste for it may have developed at my grandmother’s table, where Swedish traditions, including multiple breakfast meats were around. Bless her heart, she also believed that fruit pie was perfectly acceptable as a breakfast food: especially apple or cherry.

  5. Steve Schwartzman

    When I was little, probably around 1950, I had an all-in-one toy like this. It was a water-filled glass bottle that tapered upward to a bulbous rubber stopper at the top. When you pressed down on the stopper, a little object inside the bottle would descend, then float up again once you let go of the stopper. I’ve been trying to remember what the object inside the bottle was, and now I think it might have a figurine of a diver in one of those old-fashioned head-to-toe protective suits. I searched online a little but unfortunately didn’t turn up anything.

      1. Steve Schwartzman

        I saw that devil when I searched through pictures hoping to find my old toy.

        If I’d known, when I was teaching math, that Descartes supposedly invented the original toy, I would have shown it to them.

  6. Steve Gingold

    I never saw one of these, but I was a kid in the 50’s. Back then my favorite toy from a cereal box was an enclosed rectangle with small indentations and 10 little metal balls that you had to roll into the indentations in the shape of a triangle like bowling pins. Another was a series of 4 or 5 cards with a square cut out and different grids of numbers. I don’t remember how it worked, but you’d pick a number off one and somehow, by stacking the cards on top of the one you picked, your number would appear in the window at the top.
    What a nice customer service department at Kelloggs. Never much cared for Frosted Flakes, but I was rather fond of Tony. Believe it or not, even as a kid I liked oatmeal and Grape Nuts and Shredded Wheat.

  7. Lisa

    I had collected a number of these in the late 1980’s. By 1994, though, they were long gone from the cereal boxes and supply had dried up. I was a freshman in high school and my physical science teacher offered extra credit for students who could locate and donate a diving Tony to him. I brought in my stash, saving one for myself, and wound up with an A even after a few less than stellar test scores. My teacher thought about imposing a limit on the extra credit, but he really wanted those cereal prizes.

    1. Jim Ruebush Post author

      I’m glad you got your grade and your teacher added to his collection. Thanks for advancing the cause of science and fun. 🙂 And, thanks for stopping by with your comment. Come again any time.

  8. Patrick

    Any way I can buy one of these from you? This is a holy grail for me I loved loved loved the sinking tony the tiger.

    1. Jim R Post author

      If I had one for sale, I would consider it. I can’t find the one I had years ago. Sad. 😦

      I did a quick search. You might find one for sale somewhere.


We love comments! Tell us what you think.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s