Hidden Prizes

Depending on how old you are, you may remember when several cereal companies had prizes hidden somewhere inside their cereal boxes. My sister, Alison, and I loved searching for them when we were kids. We’d have to convince our mother that we really liked the cereal and promise to eat it to get her to buy it.

As soon as we got it home we’d rummage through the cupboards to locate the largest mixing bowl and set it on the counter. Then, we’d open the box and pull the whole bag of cereal out, followed by one of us reaching into a drawer, grabbing the kitchen scissors and cutting a slit across the top of the bag. Once done, we’d dump the entire contents into the bowl and fish through the cereal until we found the prize. As you can imagine, especially if you have two or more children, the arguing then commenced.

It’s funny but I don’t recall it mattering whether either one of us actually wanted the prize. It was more about the hunt.

When our Mom got wise to our cereal strategy she came up with a new rule. We had to eat our way to the prize. This required an enormous amount of patience, something kids are not known for. The struggle for us became deciding whether delaying our gratification was worth the prize.

Does this sound at all familiar to you? Depending on the circumstances, this is still a huge issue for most people. The whole idea of delayed gratification, when all you really want is the prize at the end of the rainbow.

We discovered that our friends did the same kind of prize hunting that we did.

Maybe it started with the very first box of cereal to contain a hidden prize, which was Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in 1909. According to some industry experts the prize was, The Funny Jungleland Moving Picture Book. The cereal cost $.10 at the time and the prize is now worth $60. Not a bad investment really.

Of course, prizes are used to sell all sorts of things. Crackerjacks made a name for themselves focusing, not only on their caramel popcorn and peanut product, but the prize inside.

One of the current versions of hidden prizes is also highly successful. Think…the Happy Meal at your local McDonalds, although the prize is pretty easy to find. I guess they’ve figured out a way to speed up the gratification process.

It seems to me that life can be the same way. We know, or at least highly suspect, that there are prizes hidden somewhere for us to find in life. Others tell us about them. They call them high school diplomas, college degrees, jobs, cars, houses. Although they seem to be in plain sight, how you get them isn’t always.

And they often require patience. A lot of patience. And perhaps it’s true that we adults aren’t any better than our children in waiting for some things. We want our prizes and sense we need them in order to feel fulfilled, successful and happy.

But I wonder, are there other things to consider? Could our life be more about the adventure than the destination or the ‘prize’?

Could the hidden prizes really be more about the friends we make along the way, the sunsets we see, the beautiful music of the wind through the trees? Could it be the illness or disease that taught us what is truly important in our lives?

Or, could it be the love that comes to us or that flows from us into the world? Could it be those we share our dreams with and our lives with?

Prizes come in all shapes and sizes. I hope you find all those you are looking for.

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2 Replies to “Hidden Prizes”

  1. Yessss..the prizes are indeed what we accrue along this Journey! How special of you to give us this valuable reminder.. to ‘stop and smell the rose’s “

    Like

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