Milking It: All-Bran Yogurt Bites

All-Bran Yogurt Bites Kellogg's Rating: One-and-a-half stars out of four

Cereal description: Large, hearty, darkish brown wheat flakes supplemented by clusters made of wheat, oats and rice and coated in vanilla yogurt. The resulting shapes look alternately like stray jism globules or melting, misshapen faces of the sort that pop out of the darkness during the most disturbing dreams. I think I just lost my appetite....

Box description: The All-Bran logo, reproduced in earthen brown and sporting a hyphen that resembles an out-of-context chili pepper, hovers to the left of a generic humanoid in mid-dance, like Borofsky sculptures celebrating their trim waistline and regular bowel movements. A blue band trimmed in yellow (the same color scheme employed on the figure above) announces the presence of "Yogurt Bites -- Crunchy bran flakes with yogurt coated clusters" in a feminine font, while flakes and mystery wads rain into a bowl that dominates the lower right-hand corner. Also on hand: a leafy blue shape to the lower left letting breakfasters know that this munch provides "40% DAILY VALUE OF FIBER." It's like taking a bite out of a tree, except easier on the choppers. The side panel opposite the nutrition information piles on more nutrition data, defining GDAs, or "Guideline Daily Amounts" -- terminology that isn't used even once on the back, where folks like the vital, track-suited sixty-something atop the frame are issued a "10 Day Challenge" meant to provide "you with a feeling of energy and keeping you regular." Too bad the instructions calling for "One serving of All-Bran cereal for 10 days" are so unclear. Is that once a day for ten days, or once bowl over the course of ten days? I know which option I'd prefer.

Taste: As any chef understands, presentation has a great deal to do with a meal's success. If it looks good, it's got a better chance to taste good -- which is why the yogurt-dipped clusters are so counterproductive. Their appearance is flat-out nauseating, and their tendency to either float or sink in milk can't help but recall floaters and sinkers of another sort -- especially given all the ad copy about fiber and regularity. Their texture isn't very pleasant, either. The yogurt element suggests that they'll be soft and gooey, but they're actually quite brittle, shattering into grainy shrapnel when mashed between molars. The effect actually detracts from the flakes, which fall short of scintillating, but have a flavor that lifts them slightly above the merely utilitarian. Indeed, the flakes alone would have scored at least a half-spoon higher if Kellogg's had left well enough alone.

Conclusion: Tonight, please don't let me have nightmares about these yogurt bites biting back!

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