The Mexican version of Frosted Flakes is called Zucaritas. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes cereal was first introduced in the United States in 1952 under the name “Sugar Frosted Flakes.” When the cereal was launched in Mexico in 1961, it was given the name “Zucaritas” which translates to “little sugars” in Spanish. Zucaritas have a similar sweet corn taste and crunch as the original Frosted Flakes, but with slight recipe variations made specifically for the Mexican market. While Frosted Flakes contain sugar, Zucaritas are sweetened with honey instead. The cereal is hugely popular in Mexico, where it goes by the slogan “Es un tigre en tu tazón” (“It’s a tiger in your bowl”).
Origins of Frosted Flakes
Frosted Flakes cereal was invented by John Harvey Kellogg, who ran the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan with his brother Will Keith Kellogg. John Kellogg developed the corn flake cereal in 1894 as a healthy, ready-to-eat, anti-masturbatory morning meal. In 1922, his brother founded the Kellogg Company which began mass producing corn flakes. The Kellogg brothers originally saw corn flakes as a plain, hearty cereal, but sugar soon made its way into the recipe. By the 1950s, the public was craving something sweeter and more flavorful. In 1951, Kellogg sent out surveys to consumers asking what flavors they’d like to see in a cereal. The resounding response was sugar.
In 1952, Kellogg executive John E. McLaughlin developed the cereal we now know as Frosted Flakes. The new cereal featured Kellogg’s iconic corn flakes recipe coated with a sugar-based frosting. Early advertisements boasted that Frosted Flakes contained “the good taste of golden syrup with malty-rich corn flavor.” The cereal was an immediate success thanks to its satisfying sweetness and crispy texture. Within a year, Frosted Flakes became the most popular new cereal on the market and one of Kellogg’s all-time best sellers.
Launch of Zucaritas in Mexico
Given the widespread popularity of Frosted Flakes in the United States, Kellogg saw strong potential for international markets. In 1961, Kellogg brought Frosted Flakes to Mexico under the name “Zucaritas.” Kellogg ran a contest to come up with a fitting Spanish name for the cereal. “Zucaritas” was chosen for its playful diminutive meaning “little sugars.”
While based on the original Frosted Flakes recipe, Kellogg tailored Zucaritas to local Mexican tastes. Rather than using pure white sugar for the frosting like American Frosted Flakes, Zucaritas featured golden honey. The substitution of honey for sugar gave Zucaritas a more amber color and distinct sweetness compared to the U.S. version. Honey also provided a healthier halo at a time when sugar was falling out of favor. In addition to the honey frosting, Zucaritas had slightly elevated levels of iron and folic acid to appeal to the Mexican nutritional palette.
Kellogg rolled out a massive marketing campaign for the Zucaritas launch in Mexico. Television commercials proclaimed Zucaritas as “nuevo” and “delicioso.” The ads positioned Zucaritas as a fun, family-friendly breakfast. Packaging featured the beloved Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger. Tony was joined by Mexican tiger mascot Zucaritas to give the brand local appeal. Within just five years of its launch, Zucaritas became the number one selling cereal in Mexico.
Evolution of Zucaritas in Mexico
Since its 1961 debut, Zucaritas has become ingrained in Mexican breakfast culture. While the original honey-frosted flakes recipe remains largely unchanged, Kellogg has introduced new varieties and flavors over the decades. Additions like chocolate Zucaritas and cinnamon Zucaritas have complemented the traditional original. Special edition flavors around holidays like strawberry for Valentine’s Day give Zucaritas seasonal flair. While the recipe has been slightly adjusted to reduce sugar content, Zucaritas still offer the indulgent sweet taste that makes them iconic.
Zucaritas packaging and advertising has also evolved with the times while holding onto core elements that make the brand recognizable. Tony the Tiger continues to feature prominently on boxes with his rugged, masculine vibe. Starting the late 1990s, another mascot named Melvin the Elephant was added to give a younger, playful accent to the brand. Zucaritas commercials from the 1970s and 80s focused on taste and crunch, while later ads emphasized fun and adventure. The 2008 global financial crisis saw Zucaritas shift marketing to value messaging. Current advertising highlights the benefits of a nutritious breakfast with Zucaritas.
In 2013, Kellogg celebrated Zucaritas’ 50th anniversary in Mexico. For a limited time, they brought back retro cereal box designs and prizes inspired by the original 1960s marketing. The nostalgic campaign celebrated Zucaritas’ multi-generational appeal from grandparents to grandkids.
Today, Zucaritas remains one of the most beloved and recognized food brands in Mexico. It continues to be the best selling cereal in the country with over 25 million boxes sold per year. Though the formula has been lightly adjusted, Zucaritas still deliver the crave-worthy sweet corn taste with honey frosting that makes them distinctive from Frosted Flakes. The crunchy flakes coated in touch of honey are part of family breakfasts across Mexico.
Zucaritas has become ingrained in Mexican pop culture as well. The brand regularly features special edition boxes featuring characters from upcoming movies, cartoons, and events to engage younger consumers. Mexican athletes like Olympic diver Paola Espinosa and boxer Canelo Álvarez have appeared in Zucaritas ads as spokespeople. Zucaritas even sponsored a Mexican soccer team and has partnerships with local sports clubs.
While Zucaritas are considered quintessentially Mexican, they are produced in various countries across Latin America. From Chile to Panama to Colombia, Zucaritas can be found throughout the region with subtle adjustments to the recipe and marketing. However, Mexico remains the core market for the brand. For over 50 years, Zucaritas have started off millions of Mexican mornings with their signature touch of honey sweetness.
Here is a comparison of the nutritional profiles of Frosted Flakes and Zucaritas per 1 cup serving:
While the two cereals are nutritionally similar, Zucaritas contain slightly less sugar due to the honey frosting instead of pure sugar. Zucaritas also have 2g more protein per serving compared to Frosted Flakes.
Where to Buy Zucaritas
Zucaritas are predominantly sold in Mexico and Latin America. However, with the rising influence of Latino culture in the United States, Zucaritas have become easier to find in specialty grocery stores catering to international foods. Stores specializing in Mexican foods are the most likely to carry Zucaritas in the U.S. Larger chains like Walmart and Target may also sell them in areas with sizable Hispanic populations. Online retailers like Amazon.com and Mexican supermarkets that ship across the U.S. also make it possible to order Zucaritas Stateside.
For tourists visiting Mexico, Zucaritas can be found in any major supermarket for roughly 20-30 Mexican pesos per box. Trying this Mexican twist on an American classic is a delicious way to experience an authentic local breakfast tradition.
Zucaritas hold a special place in Mexican culture beyond just being a popular breakfast cereal. They represent thehappy, carefree spirit of childhood. The playful tiger mascots Tony and Zucaritas bring out a sense of fun and adventure. For generations of Mexicans, eating a bowl of Zucaritas evokes warm memories of Saturday morning cartoons and treasured time with family.
The phrase “Es un tigre en tu tazón” meaning “It’s a tiger in your bowl” is instantly recognizable across Mexico. It captures the energetic roar of Zucaritas. The cereal is deeply tied to Mexicans’ sense of childhood joy and lighter side of life.
In a country with deep proud traditions around food, Zucaritas have notably become incorporated into Mexican culture. While an American invention, Zucaritas are now considered as Mexican as tacos or tortillas. They are even included in Mexico’s version of comfort food. The sweet honey-imbued taste provides nostalgic pleasure that harkens back to more carefree times.
Zucaritas vs. Frosted Flakes
Zucaritas and Frosted Flakes share essentially the same origins and base recipe, but over time Zucaritas have taken on a meaning and significance unique to Mexico. Here are some of the key differences between Frosted Flakes in America and Zucaritas in Mexico:
- Zucaritas are sweetened with honey instead of pure sugar, giving them a more golden, amber color and subtle honey taste.
- Since their 1961 launch, Zucaritas have been incorporated into Mexican culture and considered a local brand. Frosted Flakes are still seen as an American import.
- The tiger mascot Zucaritas created specifically for the Mexican market gives the brand a more authentic identity.
- Zucaritas evoke a stronger feeling of childhood nostalgia and “tigre” spirit in Mexico compared to Frosted Flakes in the U.S.
- While Frosted Flakes slogan is “They’re grrrrreat!”, Zucaritas signature slogan translates to “There’s a tiger in your tank” which has more energy and youth appeal.
At the end of the day, Zucaritas and Frosted Flakes are essentially two sides of the same coin. But Zucaritas have developed their own personality that speaks uniquely to the Mexican consumer.
For over 60 years, Zucaritas have been Mexico’s leading breakfast cereal. What started as Kellogg’s adapting Frosted Flakes for a new market evolved into a beloved cultural icon. While Zucaritas maintain the satisfying sweet taste and crunch of the original American cereal, they have developed a truly Mexican identity. The subtle use of honey instead of sugar and locally beloved tiger mascot Zucaritas make this cereal feel authentically Mexican. Zucaritas hold deep nostalgic meaning, representing the happy, carefree days of childhood. They are now ingrained in the nation’s breakfast traditions and popular culture. By understanding the local tastes and traditions of the Mexican consumer, Kellogg’s was able to transform an imported product into a cherished household name. For Mexicans today, a bowl of Zucaritas is more than just a morning meal – it’s a source of national pride and a taste of home.