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Thinking Out Of The Box

Cap'n Crunch, eat your heart out! These guys got celebrity endorsers to pose for their cereal boxes-and now they've got big aisle-space clout!

This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Among the dense sea of flakes, puffs and Os, indecisive eyes scan cereal-box greats like Tony the Tiger-Kellogg's 47-year-old spokesperson for Frosted Flakes-and whoever happens to be the latest inspirational athlete to grace the face of General Mills' renowned Wheaties. Now novelty favorites like Flutie Flakes, produced by Pittsburgh's PLB Sports Inc., a food marketing company that introduces products featuring pro athletes, are stealing some of that morning spotlight-and making competition even more fierce in the picking process-with boxes featuring athletic heroes both young and old. So where do Jason Bauer and Michael Simon, founders of New York City's Famous Fixins Inc., yet another distributor and manufacturer of athlete- and celebrity-affiliated food products, come in? Especially when-well, let's face it-it's been done? Let's just say "celebrity" is the operative word.

Sure, PLB had a leg up on Famous Fixins in the breakfast department. PLB released Buffalo Bill quarterback Doug Flutie's cereal (with sales supporting the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism) about a year before the latter released Baltimore Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken Jr.'s Cal's Classic O's cereal early last year. But even though they weren't the first ones out of the gate, self-proclaimed "sports junkies" Bauer, 30, and Simon, 31, have gotten top players from top teams to sign with them-and these are athletes with household names. Of course, Bauer and Simon have had some practice. The two in-troduced 1987 Academy Award winner Olympia Dukakis' Greek Salad Dressings to supermarkets in 1997. And they had a few connections, too.

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