Milking It: Chocolate Honey-Comb

Chocolate Honey-Comb Post Rating: Two stars out of four

Cereal description: Corn and oat flour mashed into the ingenious Honey-Comb shape -- a modified hexagon, thickly constructed, with six holes geometrically arrayed around the perimeter and another drilled at the center. Then, the professors at Post sprayed the bits brown, to confuse any circling bees.

Box description: The cover is appealingly straight-forward. The traditional Honey-Comb logo appears against a yellow backdrop under the word "chocolate," spelled lower-case, with the letters designed to recall candy bars. Mmmmm. At the bottom, a bowl of the stuff appears, with one piece "enlarged to show texture" -- but it's so enlarged that it can't help but raise expectations to unreachable heights. Imagine -- cereal so jumbo it requires a knife and fork. Nice use of exclamation points, too. Unfortunately, though, the phrases "BIG SIZE!" and "BIG CRUNCH!" are juxtaposed against a fun-killing "Sensible Solution" logo that identifies the product as an "excellent source of whole grain." (While it's also an excellent source of potential tooth decay, they didn't bother mentioning that.) Fortunately, the side of the box opposite the nutrition information makes up for this moment of seriositude with weirdness. "Grow your own BIG Mouth" invites kiddies to visit Postpopia.com, where they'll be able to "Choose & Grow your very own Big Mouth," exemplified by a photo illustration of a very red-lipped, white-toothed yap supplemented by a pair of sandal-clad female feet and a ruby necklace around its nonexistent neck. The back of the box, featuring a series of games and brain teasers labeled "Welcome to the Big Mouth Life," is arguably even more twisted thanks to the presence of several other human-lipped Big Mouth characters: Trixie, Syd, Jacques and Brittany, who has blue, cheetah-patterned flesh, gold boots, white wings and a silver princess crown. Is the secret ingredient in Chocolate Honey-Comb LSD?

Taste: In general, my feeling is, the more chocolate the better -- so I was excited when I first saw Chocolate Honey-Comb on the supermarket shelf a year or so ago. I barely made it through my first box, however, and in sampling the product again, I understood why. Post doesn't seem to have skimped on the sweetness; opening the plastic bag containing the cereal released an intoxicating whoosh of chocolatey richness. But the first bite harshed my vibe in a big way. The chocolate turns bitter in milk, and not in a good way; it suggests chocolate medicine. The flavor fades the longer the cereal is in milk, moving the bowl from barely tolerable to just plain boring -- and an unpleasant after-taste lingers, like the minor cramp that materialized in the pit of my stomach in the moments after finishing up. Medic!

Conclusion: The only thing bigger than the cereal pieces was my disappointment. -- Michael Roberts

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