Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Cheerios and Johnny Reb’s Ersatz Dough

May 28th, 2009 · 5 Comments

Like a zillion other toddlers, Microkhan Jr. loves him some Cheerios. And never more so when the circular cereal gives away toys—General Mills has recently been on a kick of offering a free Lego car in every box. For a fifteen-month-old obsessed with rolling objects, nothing could make that oat-y goodness any better.

Yet Cheerios’ freebies haven’t always been so obviously geared toward the Sesame Street set, as we recently learned after reading this tale of an Iowan auction gone awry. A man purchased $800 worth of Confederate money (which cost him $200 Yankee bucks). Upon returning home, alas, he was aggrieved to discover that the notes’ serial numbers were listed as known fakes. A lawsuit followed, with predictable results. (Aren’t all auction items sold “as is”?)

In checking out the serial-number site, Microkhan was somewhat astonished to learn that a major source of fake Confederate cash is Cheerios boxes from the 1950s (pictured above). The cereal enticed Eisenhower-era consumers by featuring fake Confederate notes on its boxes. The reprints are said to be very high quality, as far as detail goes, and thus often show up at auctions masquerading as the real thing.

Now, the big question this all raises: If you saw a Cheerios box today with Confederate money printed on the back, would you be less likely to buy it? Or more?

Confederate counterfeiting is nothing new, of course—during the Civil War, a Yankee named Samuel Curtis Upham was the acknowledged master.


Tags: ······

5 Comments so far ↓

  • Thom Shields

    I have 2 $10.00, 1 $2.00, & a $500.00, Confederacy bills from the Cheerios Co. in the 1950’s. Of course they are in bad shape .I don’t know how I have been able to keep them all these 71 years, But I was just as thrilled to find them in a book today, where I had stashed , as the day I found them in the Cheerios box as a kid.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    @Thom Shields: Terrific find! Probably worth a fair amount of (real) money, despite their poor condition. But I’m sure they have too much sentimental value for you to give them up.

  • b zimmerman

    I found several of these Cheerios bills from 1954. Where can I sell them and where can I learn how much they are worth?

  • J Townsend

    I have a $1000 confederate bill #297 but no A
    and the print is backwards on it
    What is it???

  • cmaio

    I have $500 1864 confederate bill serial #16760. I know it’s on parchment paper and is from cheerios. Is it worth anything?