Earlier this month, a study from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab (more specifically, the department of tricking-you-into-buying-shit-ology) revealed the dark secret behind cereal boxes: Companies purposefully have their mascots' eyes tilted downward in order to make eye contact with children walking down grocery store aisles, essentially hypnotizing them into begging Mommy for their product.

But that can't be true, right? Surely if there was some vast cereal mascot conspiracy, we would have noticed by now. We at Cracked decided to look into this important matter and found out that this plot runs way deeper than everyone thought ...

It's Not Just Cereal Boxes

Once you know about the "all mascots are looking down" trick, it's impossible to unsee it. It's everywhere, hiding in plain sight. And the most glaringly obvious offender? Fucking Lucky Charms.

The Evil Trick Food Companies Use to Brainwash Kids
General Mills

"They can't keep us apart ..."

Imagine being a 5-year-old kid walking through the grocery store, and these bulging white Irish eyes pop out, smiling down in your direction. Do you turn to the other side, hoping to see another box? Nope, motherfucker, because BAM.

g Whole Grain & Calcium OP'Y Ox OATAnT Lucky eotas TOSTED OAT CEREAL Charms WITH MARCHMLALOWE Swirled marshmallou charts MET WT 11.507 (326g)
General Mills

"... We'll be together ..."

You turn once again, trying to resist the subliminal order, and guess who's waiting for you there:

Whole Grain &Calcium to OX Guaranteads Lucky Charms FROSTED TOASTED OAT NET WT 115 07 (3269) CEREAL WITH MARSHMALLOWS
General Mills

"... Forever and ever."

So now you're spinning around the aisle with all these eyes just beaming down at you, begging you -- and by "begging" we mean holding a mental gun to your 5-year-old, unsophisticated id -- to buy their shit. Because really, this crap just doesn't end. Everyone's in on this action, from relative newcomers like Chip the cool jacket-wearing wolf ...

130 UA TR Whole, Grain Dete t t fe e eoine Beble (oeliesl 2 MHA CHOCOLATE GRISE DOUBLE KRe JRISP RiSP Bulld Chip's UACLI-JET MUENTION aoel Back NENWT
General Mills

"Kids, try it with chocolate milk -- jump right into diabetes!"

... to institutions like the venerable Cap'n Crunch, whom you'd think would be above this sort of chicanery.

CAPN QUAKER CRUNCH C 1 Cee -tize crunch-a Cap'n! Me NET 10 453
Quaker Oats Company

We trusted you with our most important meal, you son of bitch.

You run to another section of the store, but the eyes are inescapable. After all, why should this tactic be limited to cereals? It stands to reason that other food brands for kids would be able to afford their own behind-the-scenes psychologists as well. Not even the Keebler gnome/dwarf/wingless fairy-thing is immune to the condition that forces mascots to look down at all times.

NEW! FAMILY SI2E Keeblen Chips Deluxe COOKiES aWy RANBOW AAA ee NET WT2102/1181107 795e
Keebler Company

He's trying to figure out why he can't ever close his mouth.

It's gotten so bad that some brands just half-assedly draw downward-gazing eyes on things that should never have them. They don't even bother to do the full face: The eyes are apparently enough to double your sales.

Sun Capri-S oo 100 % SDAY pure juice orange from concentrate
Kraft Foods

We're pretty sure they drew this on with a Sharpie.

Sometimes They're Not Even Looking at Their Product

You might be thinking there's a simple, rational explanation for all this: The mascots are looking down at their products, not the kids! If the tasty treats were placed above the mascots instead of below, then surely they would look at-

KidCyisine 16 Confelti Dogs corn Weeie OO MDDS 228 DPENN
ConAgra Foods

Oh.

Not only is that duck holding the corn dog like it's a Spartan spear, but he looks like he's actively avoiding looking at his product. The same goes for this remarkably smug Scooby-Doo here.

116OAN 6T1 Double L Calcism KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese DINNE R SGOOBY-DOO! -01 -070 0SYOA
Kraft Foods

Since when is Scooby even physically capable of ignoring food?

Meanwhile, Bugs Bunny is skateboarding on an invisible toilet just so he can keep his eyes on you while he shills some Kool-Aid.

LEMON-LIME FLAVOR I0 OKOO:AD PRE-SWEETENED AICALLY 611ENS 307 CRINe MIE EN MAKES 2 OUARTS 418 NET WT.1702
Kraft Foods

"Drink it, kids! No metaphor here, just sales commissions."

The Kool-Aid man himself has his entire body and eyes tilted downward to you, despite the fact that he seems to be handing the glass upward, like the guy's so drunk on his own fat juice that his hand-eye coordination's gone to shit.

iy Ms TROPICAL PUNCH Gut Greatkk TFORAT Sodler fnn le KoolAid Singles OEOREM Clh Mke: WACOr 0 Jiet Pd 0 esd seleror' MCCTS biee t 0Y5T Nnstiers
Kraft Foods

Or maybe that glass is his ex, so it's just awkward.

And finally, others prefer to manhandle their product rather than look at it, so they can keep their stare fixed on the children.

ME OE 6 DRINXS DANNON Danimals 40 imalls Smoothe Banana R Swingin Strawberry FUQ TeR Dinto
Dannon Company


GORILLA BOOGERS D JUICY SWEET RAISINS WE PICK THE JUICIEST! AYAWT
Gorilla Boogers

Et tu, Gorilla Boogers? Is nothing sacred?

Bear Mascots Are Extra Creepy, for Some Reason

There's an unintended side effect of this technique, a glitch that these companies' mind-control specialists could never have foreseen: When they do this with bears, it always looks like they're going to murder someone, or worse. Sometimes they look like they're patiently waiting to jump the fence they're peeking over to drag you back to their vans.

NEUIT Dare YOGOURT Bear PAWs Morning Snack Cereot Ier a Vandio NUT ogoutt 2g 6 OT packs 189 9 sa ye't ed iseuts
Dare Foods

"Let me show you how bears really hug."

Other times they look extremely pissed off that you're even daring to make eye contact with them, as if you had a choice.

Dogles. 0oog Sore Calcam& Vitwin D MLARANETIOO SRAIN WHLS 0 CHOCO CRLINCH'N GOOP DECTLATE ILAUTO WOLE DRAN DOPEAL OTH MASLALLEW TS FREE ROCKET ni TATT
Dogies

The tip of that rocket wasn't red a minute ago.

A few look like they come straight out of the darkest corners of 4chan.

PUFFS HONNY HVETEKORN MED HONNING PUFFEDE LIP
Landlord

Not milk.

And this bizarre phenomenon goes way back, judging by the haunting look of regret on the face of Nabisco's Eddy the Cannibalistic Bear.

CHOCOLATE New! utn GRAHAMS BREAKFA ST TEDDY BEARS GRAMAN CEREAL VAS se leadag AU val S0C12 $B FREE Eddy MASK 8 ESSENTLAL N BEVENLAE BE PGOVIDS ANDMINE
Nabisco

"Th-they were like that when I found them ... *crunch* ... honest."

But nothing beats the Koko Krunch bear, whose beady psychopath eyes appear to be illuminated by the flames of hell itself.

Nestle. KRUNCH KoKo CHOCOLATEY TASTE GREAT la 0 -000 1000
Nestle

"FREE condemned human soul inside! Yours!"


The third part of XJ's epic science fiction novel is out now on Amazon. The first $0.99 novella can be found here, with Part 2 out here. Or leave a review and get a free copy! Poke him on Twitter and follow him on Facebook.

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