The world's most expensive cornflake

Things can't be that bad in the US. Someone's prepared to pay £100,000 for a cornflake shaped like Illinois.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Two sisters from Virginia have put a Kellogg’s Frosted Flake shaped a bit like the state of Illinois up for sale on eBay, and the bidding has risen to over $200,000. Yes, for a cornflake.

The morsel in question was identified just as it was about to become the breakfast of Emily McIntire, a 15-year-old from Chesapeake, who suddenly realised that it bore a distinct resemblance to an upside-down version of the state of Illinois (quite how she knew this we have no idea – Illinois doesn’t even border Virginia). ‘Oh my goodness, it's Illinois,’ was apparently Emily’s flabbergasted reaction.

The incident would have remained an amusing anecdote for friends and loved ones, were it not for her parents’ obvious entrepreneurial streak. At their suggestion, Emily and her sister Melissa refrained from eating the Illinois-esque flake and put it on eBay instead, calling it (not unreasonably) ‘The Great Illinois Corn Flake’. You’d think that – like most of the tat that goes on sale on eBay – it would have attracted a few small bids and faded back into obscurity. Even if it does come in a ‘fine jewellery box’ and includes free shipping. But apparently there is no end to the nonsense people are willing to buy online. Within days the bidding had gone from a modest $20 to a completely ludicrous $200,000. Now it appears to have been taken down off eBay – perhaps to avoid a stampede of desperate amusingly-shaped-cereal collectors.

To be fair, corn is big news in Illinois (the fifth most populous state in the US and home of Barack Obama). The prairie land in the central part of the state is one of the most productive in the world, making Illinois the second-biggest state in the US for corn production. So maybe the sisters are just profiting from a surfeit of state pride. Or of course it could all be a brilliant marketing scam by Kellogg’s – after all, it’s not easy to get cornflakes in the news...

Either way, this seems to present a great marketing opportunity for breakfast cereal makers. Rather than make their money through the notoriously fickle retail sales, they could just focus on making novelty cornflakes and auctioning them online. Their margins would soar.

But what do the sisters plan to do with their unexpected – and let’s face it, wholly undeserved – windfall? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that they’re thinking big – they’re going to buy more Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. ‘We've got to replace the one we've already sold,’ said Melissa. ‘We like cereal.’ With $200,000 of cornflakes, they must have a good chance of finding one shaped like the UK. Get saving...

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