From Marbury v. Madison (1803) to Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), Supreme Court cases have shaped the United States as we know it. But not every case makes the front page. Some cases have had a silent but profound impact on history, if not for those they affect directly, then for a small minority whose lives they change.
One such case is 1998’s Rabbit v. Kids. Virtually unheard of outside the specialized field of Breakfast Law, Rabbit v. Kids ended decades-long limitations on animals’ rights to Trix.
At first glance, this was merely a superficial battle for a fruity, delicious treat. But its effects on inter-species access to breakfast cereal have made it one of the most historic civil rights cases of the past century.
When Trix hit the market in 1954, it was a revolution in fruit flavor the likes of which the world had never seen. Orangey Orange and Lemony Yellow were more orangey and lemony, respectively, than anything consumers had yet tasted. Humans and animals alike flocked to grocery stores to buy the cereal in bulk. Kids and rabbits, in particular, were drawn to its berry blasts. It wasn’t long before an all out battle took place to control Trix’s distribution, with Rabbits advocating for open access for all species and Kids supporting a “Kids Only” plan.
Protests, legal cases, and smear campaigns dominated the world of Trix from 1955-1959. Then, in late 1959, the Kids finally lobbied Congress to pass the Trix Are for Kids and Certain Qualified Adults Act of 1959. This law explicitly barred all “rabbits, hares, and other furry creatures from purchasing, distributing, or consuming Trix.”
By limiting rabbits’ legal access to the cereal, The Trix Are for Kids Act led to a wave of organized crime, with Trix distribution at its center. The now infamous Bunnyosa crime family got its start cooking homemade Trix in cereal stills in Hell’s Kitchen. They later allied with the Cuckoo Cartel to push Cocoa Puffs to inner city birds.
For nearly 40 years, this system prevailed. On the one hand, Kids savagely protecting their exclusive right to Trix. On the other, Rabbits living underground and getting the product through illicit means. But in the late 1980s, a small group of activists began fighting to upend this unequal system. Their ultimate goal: to make Trix legal for all, regardless of species.
Not So Silly Anymore
Silas E. Rabbit, now better known by his nickname “Silly Rabbit,” grew up in an underground warren in New Jersey. He recalls his parents had to work multiple jobs just to keep Trix on the table. When the product was scarce, his father would have to do dangerous and often illegal jobs for the Bunnyosa family just for a single home-brewed box. One box was hardly enough to feed his 84 brothers and sisters.
“I remember I was happy if I could get a single Wildberry Blue puff for breakfast,” recalled Rabbit. “Those were lean times. I told myself that when I grew up I would never let my family have to scrape by just for Trix.”
Rabbit decided he would dedicate his life to reforming Breakfast Law. One day, he vowed, he would bring Trix to the masses.
He started small, first successfully defending Count Chocula in a case where he was accused of sucking the chocolatey milk out of a young child’s bowl of cereal. He then got Tony the Tiger a reduced sentence after he was imprisoned for pushing Frosted Flakes with “extra special” frosting.
“Yeah, these guys broke the law, and they knew it. But that wasn’t the point,” said Rabbit. “The point was that the law itself was unfair. You have kids snorting lines of Fruit Loops on the street in broad daylight, and it’s totally legal. But Toucan Sam smells them just once from a mile away, and he gets arrested.”
Rabbit’s victories in Breakfast Court earned him a near-godlike reputation among cereal mascots. He showed the world’s children that cartoon animals wouldn’t just lie down and accept unfair breakfast laws.
In 1998, he went on the offensive. The Supreme Court in Rabbit v. Kids ruled that the kids’ law banning animals’ access to Trix was unconstitutional. This decision set in motion a series of court cases legalizing other breakfast cereals for all.
But the work wasn’t done yet. It would be years before grocery store cereal aisles were entirely species-neutral. Nonetheless, Rabbit v. Kids remains one of the most important court cases in the history of Breakfast Law.
“It was a long time in the making,” said Rabbit. “But I can finally walk into the cereal aisle and say with conviction: ‘Trix are for rabbits.'”