It’s been 26 years since NBC’s The Golden Girls retired from the airwaves but the geriatric sitcom is alive and well as a licensing brand name and — as flaky as it may sound — fan demand for The Golden Girls breakfast cereal is so high that boxes are being hawked on eBay for as much as $100.
The limited-edition Golden Girls multigrain cereal was introduced Sept. 30 as an in-store exclusive at Target stores and online but the sold-out quickly. The blue-hued loops were marketed as a “tasty treat, fun to eat” but the real allure was the anime-style collectible Golden Girls vinyl figures tucked inside each of the $7.99 boxes.
The vinyl figures are made by Funko Inc., the Washington state company that specializes in pop-culture tchotchkes. Funko expanded into the cereal business this past summer with a plan to make film, TV and comics properties into breakfast brands (among them: Lord of the Rings, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Beetlejuice, Huckleberry Hound and Batman).
On Friday, Funko CEO Brian Mariotti told Deadline that two additional flavors of The Golden Girls cereal will be launched soon with new figures based on the sitcom’s quartet of characters: bossy New Yorker Dorothy (Bea Arthur); the naive airhead Rose (Betty White); Southern sexpot Blanche (Rue McClanahan); and cranky Sicilian matriarch Sophia (Estelle Getty). Funko is also launching The Golden Girls as Pez dispensers next month.
Funko often focuses on of-the-moment brands (their major new initiative, for instance, is based on the wildly popular Fortnite video game) but Mariotti said The Golden Girls has a fanbase that is diverse and passionate — hence the eBay auction prices. “I’m not really surprised. A few years back we did Golden Girls pop figures and action figures, too. They did insanely well. So we knew doing the cereal and our upcoming Pez makes a ton of sense.”
Asked about the cereal flavors, Mariotti said the product is more about look than taste: “Well, the cereal is a fruity flavor, but the key thing here is the color of the cereal. We have additional Golden Girls cereal planned. We wanted to lead off with blue but you can expect to see white and pink colors in the next two editions with new figures in each.”
Mariotti said fan demand is spread evenly among the four characters and he demurred when asked to name his personal favorite. “I think I am too old. I missed this Golden Girls craze. I was working 85-hour work weeks during the Golden Girls TV run. I grew up on dramatic masterpieces like Three’s Company, The Facts of Life and Silver Spoons.”
The senior citizen humor of The Golden Girls kept the show in the Top 10 for six of its seven seasons (1985-1992). The series won 11 Emmys and racked up an additional 57 nominations. It also spawned two spin-offs, The Golden Palace and Empty Nest.
The show has a curious staying power and some celebrity fans. Among them: Winston Duke(Black Panther)who stopped by Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast early this year and didn’t hesitate when asked if he has an surprising obsessions. “Easy. The Golden Girls.” Ryan Reynolds is apparently a fan, too. When Deadpool 2 enjoyed its record-setting opening weekend in May the star tweeted his appreciation to his 11 million followers in the form of a Deadpool spoof of the show’s opening credits, complete with the theme song “Thank You For Being a Friend.”
The show’s merchandise isn’t limited to Funko. Online merchants sell t-shirts, sweatshirts, a “Golden Girls” Monopoly edition, coffee mugs, greeting cards, hot sauce, and, perhaps oddest of all, prayer candles featuring the four cast members in beatified poses with stained-glass backdrops. There are limits to any nostalgia, however, as proven by the Golden Girls-themed cafe that opened in Manhattan in early 2017 — and closed by year’s end.