Marketing a breakfast cereal to bigots was always going to be a controversial thing, there was no getting around that. Nonetheless, when Special KKK hit the shelves, I don’t think anyone was particularly surprised.
Sickened? Perhaps. Saddened? Almost certainly. But surprised? No, absolutely not.
That’s how capitalism works, after all. Bigots exist, they’re out there in the world, they eat breakfast, it was inevitable that somebody would eventually see the money lying there and decide they weren’t above picking it up, controversy or no.
And when the cereal came out, it did get complaints. There were boycotts, picket lines were formed, but in spite of all that the actual cereal wound up selling pretty well.
The market already existed, after all! It wasn’t the fault of a breakfast product, the breakfast product just decided to capitalize on it.
It was never a phenomenon, granted. A commercial product as potentially offensive as that never could be, but it did sell. Well enough, in fact, that the next year it was decided that they’d release a new, more sugary cereal, marketed toward the children of bigots, whose parents wanted them to enjoy a healthy, complete breakfast that taught them the basics of xenophobia and ethnic paranoia.
Frosted Special KKK.