What Is a Fast Food or Cereal Premium?

Premiums are promotional items that consumers acquire by purchasing products, in this case, fast food meals or cereal boxes. Claiming the item usually involves mailing a proof of purchase or entering online codes printed inside promotional packs. The term "premium" also describes freebies that a consumer receives at the point of purchase, such as cereal box prizes and toys given away by fast food restaurants at the sales counter.

How Can You Get Started Collecting Premiums?

Premiums are initially available for a limited time only, and companies often allocate them to consumers on a random basis, particularly in the case of cereal box and fast food toys. This makes it difficult to acquire complete sets. Fortunately, sellers on eBay offer premiums individually and in sets, so you can easily start collecting, even after the end of a promotion. Premiums usually come sealed in plastic bags, and keeping them in this original wrapper helps keep the product in mint condition, preserving its value on the secondary market.

Which Premiums Are the Rarest?

Some of the earliest premiums are rare and collectible, such as the "Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book," which consumers originally received in-store when purchasing Kellogg's Corn Flakes. In 1945, the Kellogg Company started putting pin buttons in boxes of Pep Cereal, and these pins have become highly collectible. McDonald's launched the Happy Meal, complete with a toy, in the 1970s, and the early stencils and spinning tops are hard to find these days.