Milking It: Raisin Bran Crunch

Raisin Bran Crunch Kellogg's Rating: Two-and-a-half spoons out of four

Cereal description: Rice, wheat and oat flakes, supplemented by occasional (and mysterious) "clusters," that are bumpy, wavy and serrated; the edges seem sharp enough to open an envelope. Raisins are also part of the package, but they're not key players despite being billed first in the cereal's title. As a test, I grabbed a handful of the stuff, and I wound up with a whole bunch o' flakes and only one raisin. Which isn't nearly enough to harmonize on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine."

Box description: The black-on-white "Raisin Bran" logo is smaller in size than the giant word "Crunch," printed in yellow with the letters offset, to make it seem that shock waves jumbed them up. Directly underneath, a spoon filled with the cereal positively bursts with advertising milk -- thick globules so thick that they could pass for wallpaper paste. The raisin-to-flake ratio in the image is tantalizingly high: five raisins on the spoon itself, with a sixth floating into space, like a wrinkly meteorite. As if. The same sort of unrealistic expectations are set up by Raisin Bran's sun mascot, who holds up two scoops -- one jammed with raisins, the other with flakes -- in a couple of his triangle-shaped rays. The sun grins at the sight of this blend, and I would, too, if it actually existed. Less likely to inspire enthusiasm is the panel opposite the nutrition information, an "On Your Mark -- Get Set -- Go!!!" graphic whose text declares that a good breakfast "can help you... manage your weight... stay on task at work... concentrate." Boy, that sounds like a lot of laughs! Maybe if I eat a second bowl, I might also be able to put a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger! For its part, the box's back announces that there are now "Two Ways to Love Kellogg's Raisin Bran" -- Raisin Bran Crunch and original Raisin Bran, which shows the sun with two scoops of raisins and no flakes whatsoever. Okay by me.

Taste: The Crunch-y flakes represent a tradeoff. They don't instantly become flaccid and mushy in milk, the way those in standard Raisin Bran do -- but they're so firm that they beg to be ground down with a mortar and pestle before ingestion. Fortunately, the flavor is pretty pleasurable: stronger and sweeter than most breakfast munches aimed at people more interested in concentrating at work than eating something fun. Too bad the raisins are in such short supply when it comes to the average serving. Part of the problem is gravity: No matter what Kellogg's tries to do, the raisins tend to wind up at the bottom of the box, leaving a diner to eat mostly bran until the container is practically empty. And any raisins that do make it into a bowl earlier sink in milk, while the flakes tend to float. That may result in a spoonful or two of raisins at the end of breakfast -- but they don't quite compensate for the thirty or so raisin-free bites that preceded them.

Conclusion: Is it possible to glue the raisins and flakes together? Using honey, maybe? Just an idea...

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