Amazon Uses Cereal As Packing Material

I’ve been reading your stories about odd or wasteful pack-jobs from different retailers, and lo and behold I came across one of my own tonight. My husband ordered a few DVDs from for my valentine’s day gift, and when I opened the box, I realized that they had added some strange ballast.
Honestly, it’s so disheveled that when I picked it up I really almost expected a swarm of bugs – ants, or weevils, maybe – to come marching out. I don’t know why it made it in there because every other piece of media I’ve ever ordered from them came in that nice blister pack.

Oh, well – at least they seem to have forgotten their standard “million useless and unrelated coupons!”



Um. Well. At least they are recycling?

(ed. note– We get that it’s a sample. In this case, it functions more effectively as packing material, due to the lack of blister pack. We thought that was funny. Stop sending nasty emails.)


Edit Your Comment

  1. brent_w says:

    Honestly, it almost seems like the cereal pack in might be part of some sort of promotion with Kellogg’s.

    However, it would seem the unscrupulous shipping industry manhandled your package, with unfortunate results to your free cereal.

  2. chiieddy says:

    Why not submit a comment to Amazon and ask? It’s odd enough I would.

  3. JeffMc says:

    My wife just looked over my shoulder and said “Yeah, I got cereal yesterday too”.

    We got the same Smart Start stuff, but a smaller box…in much better shape.

    I’m with Brent_W thinking it’s just a promotion. In the past we’ve gotten other odd promotional stuff stuck in our Amazon orders. Off the top of my head I can think of a box of Schick Quattro razors.

  4. JeffMc says:

    @JeffMc: On second glance I think the cereal box we received was actually the same size.

  5. chrisfromnl says:

    Maybe Amazon could start to use this in some kind of slogan.
    “Does the competitor’s packaging material meet the American Heart Association seal of approval?”

  6. floyderdc says:

    I would like it if the sent me some fruit loops or lucky charms. I do not like healthy cereals.

  7. Has anyone gotten the god-awful instant Vanilla coffee sample? I had been ordering power and Cliff bars all through Jan to take advantage of the discount they were offering, and Twice I got the vanilla coffee crap, and just got the cereal three days ago.

  8. Also, as to packaging, if you check your Amazon invoice, in the bottom left corner, there is a bunch of numbers/letters. The last 2 numbers/letters are what the packers are supposed to box your order in, i.e. Box z1,z2,c1,c2,etc…. I am guessing that this is chosen by the computer automatically, and the packers just do what they are told. If they think the box is too big, they just shove it full of packing material.

  9. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    So this is part of a free promotion? You may not like it for eattin’, but you’ll love it for packin’!

  10. shadow735 says:

    Free stuff, well breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
    Anyone remember fingerhut, they used to put all kinds of useless crap in with your order.
    Free gift = cheap china or hong kong produced junk

  11. B says:

    The Smart Start cereal tastes like packing material, so might as well use it that way.

  12. homerjay says:

    Its highly likely that Dervish didn’t actually buy this FROM Amazon but THROUGH Amazon using their 3rd party “New and Used” option.
    I’ve sold books through Amazon and, although I don’t use cereal boxes to pack and ship, my packing is no where near as ‘professional’ as a brand new “Amazon” box with those “Amazon” blow up bubble packing things.

    I wouldn’t call out Amazon on this until you know it actually came from Amazon.

  13. I’ve gotten used to just getting them with every order. They do make great camping snacks though.

  14. levenhopper says:

    @homerjay: With the other people posting comments saying they too have recieved food as packing materials/give aways (and a few other people having recieved the same cereal), I doubt it’s from a “New and Used” seller.

  15. avantartist says:

    we complain about free oil and now free food?

  16. Nytmare says:

    You know if I sent unsolicited food through the mail to someone I’ve never met, I doubt they would feel inclined to ingest it.

  17. CyGuy says:

    It’s not stated in the article, so how do we know this was actually sold by Amazon, the OP said it was ordered from, but that could meant it was bought from one of like a million different sellers.

    I get that it could be apromotion for Amazon’s new grocery-by-mail business, but you’d think a promotion would include smoe promotional material, and not just a product sample.

  18. CyGuy says:

    One other comment. If this was sent via USPS using their Media Mail rate (not that there is any indication it was), would it be a violation of the rate requirements to include a non ‘Media’ product in the box, even if was included free of charge and/or as packing material?

  19. rpm087 says:

    @CyGuy: it did come from amazon, I recently ordered something from them (sold by amazon, not by some random seller) and I also recieved some cereal, but the box was in perfect shape. so I ate it. wasn’t too bad. I was kinda excited to get a free snack. I was hungry and thinking about food while I was opening the package so it was like a gift from God. I wouldn’t eat it if I got it in a box I ordered from ebay however.

  20. ChapstickAddict says:

    I got the same kind of cereal in a shipment of spices from Amazon yesterday, too. Mine was also packed with standard packing material so my box showed up in much better shape. My shipment was direct from Amazon, the spice box had an Amazon sticker on it, but I just wrote it off as a grocery promotion.

  21. micahd says:

    Have you ever been to an amazon distribution center? When I was in college I delivered pizza’s to one all the time, I never once saw a single person walk in or out of there looking happy. I also did some gift wrapping during the holiday rush for fundrasing, I’m amazed that the type of people they have working in there can ever read the packing lists.

  22. cabinaero says:

    It’s definitely a single-serve promo. The bottom left line of copy on the face of the box reads “SAMPLE NOT INTENDED FOR SALE”. The only way Amazon could get ahold of any quantity of these is cross-promotion with Kellogs. (As an aside, Kellogs is bending the NLEA with the net weight clearance, but let’s not go there)

  23. Anonymous says:

    my kids always get choked on regular packing peanuts; cereal is a much better option…way to go amazon!

  24. Hawk07 says:

    You got free food. What’s the problem?

  25. RRich says:

    It’s a sample. I got one the other day, too.

    In other words…. “OK, everybody, you can move on. Nothing interesting here.”

  26. “2 out of 3 couriers prefer their shipments be padded with smart start”

  27. Amsterdaam says:

    It is 100% verified that this is a SAMPLE. they include it with your order to advertise both their online grocer and Kellogs. I have gotten a few different cereal types as I order frequently. Please amend the article.

  28. Dervish says:

    @RRich: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I was just confused because it was so beat up – it looked like someone had just wedged a random piece of garbage in there to keep everything from rattling around. I would have expected some kind of promotional flyer, too.

  29. jzulli says:

    Looks like that person bought Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

  30. axiomatic says:

    Reese: “Hey Ricky Bobby, I taped a kilo of blow to the bottom of your car now run!”
    Ricky Bobby: “Damn they’re just Lucky charms!”
    Reese: “Do not attempt to snort the Lucky Charms!”

  31. RRich says:

    @Dervish: Agreed. A coupon or something would have a been smart.

  32. chiieddy says:

    @jzulli: Looks like. I wonder if the other one is Porco Russo :)

  33. IrisMR says:

    Was there cereals or it was empty?

  34. lettere says:

    Mine included a mini box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, I’m surprised the 7 pounds of Chewy Gobstoppers didn’t crush it to death. Still, I got better cereal than the rest of you :P Yes, there was a promotional flyer. Amazon sells groceries now.

  35. @homerjay: My cereal came from an Amazon order. So did the god awful coffee crap.

  36. gewdtimes says:

    I received the same box of cereal from Amazon yesterday. I just threw it away though thinking it may be spoiled or old and used as apart of packaging material.

    @IrisMR: The cereal box I had was sealed and inside was cereal sealed inside plastic. Mine stayed in good condition. It wasn’t all smashed up like in the OP’s order.

  37. oregongal says:

    Received 3 Amazon orders this week and all 3 had boxes of Smart Start cereal in them. My youngest was all smiles as its her favorite … and all orders were in appropriate size boxes for the contents. I wonder if they’ve been reading Consumerist?

  38. BadBadKitty says:

    I also received a smashed box of smart start in my order received wednesday !

    I was actually more shocked that when i stuck my fingers thru the tape to carry it that i could actually feel something solid in the box ,normally i get 1 item per box with a roll of bubbles .
    This box was actually “packed”!

  39. breals says:

    I received one yesterday. I thought it was a valentine’s day thing since the cereal box was Smart Start Healthy Heart.

  40. n/a says:

    Bonus points for the dude ordering his wife, Nausica.
    Great movie that was butchered into “Warriors of the wind” back int he old days of HBO

  41. Elle Rayne says:

    I think that’s pretty funny.

  42. MeMikeYouNot says:

    I just ordered a single book from Amazon and when the box arrived I was it seemed way too big and I was ready to join the multitudes complaining about the waste etc. However when I opened the box, the book was shrink wrapped with a piece of cardboard attached so it fit the box exactly with no room for movement. It was very efficient so I guess sometimes they do use common sense.

  43. SunnyLea says:

    I’m so glad you posted this. I got cereal in my Amazon box the other day, and since the invoice didn’t mention anything about cereal, and the package looked tampered with, I was actually really worried about it!