Breakfast and Brunch

Milking It: Froot Loops Smoothie

Froot Loops Smoothie Kellogg's Rating: Two and a half spoons out of four

Cereal description: The main cereal bits are as they've been since the days when Toucan Sam balanced a cornucopia-shaped fruit pile on his head like an avian Carmen Miranda: red, purple, orange, green and blue multi-grain circles with holes in their guts speckled with white crystals that promise a burst of sugar, glorious sugar. In addition, this variation includes pieces wearing a white casing of a yogurt-like substance. It looks hard, mighty hard -- as if Jackie Chan could use it in lieu of a throwing star.

Box description: The cover sports the usual Froot Loops logo with the word "Smoothie" beneath it in bold white letters; the same goes for the oddly phrased subhead, "with yogurty-covered cereal pieces." ("Yogurty"? Sounds like something Pee-wee Herman would say -- kinda like his classic term "salad-y.") Toucan Sam is in the lower right-hand corner, his beak enormous, his tongue pornographically red and luscious, and two feathers actually levitating from his cranium, as if the thought of a hearty breakfast is causing him to molt. He holds a giant yogurt piece in one wing directly over a leaf whose presence makes less than no sense. Are Froot Loops supposed to be minty? Or is he planning to roll the thing up and smoke it. As for the yogurt bits in the cereal bowl on the left, they look enormous, like lifesavers large enough to have reduced the loss of life in the Titanic sinking by half. One side panel shows Toucan Sam reacting with disturbing glee to a house ad for, where diners can "Play Exciting Games," "Create Your Own Artwork," "Watch exciting videos" and, inexplicably, "Solve Pirate Puzzles." The other panel contains facts and figures, and unfortunately, so does the back. Instead of fun time-wasters, there's a "Nutrition at a Glance" feature complete with a description of "GDAs," or Guideline Daily Amount. My GDA for someone trying to make me think I'm eating Froot Loops for medically sound reasons is zero.

Taste: I've never been overly wild about Froot Loops due to one significant design flaw -- no chocolate. However, I recognize that the cereal has lasted as long as it has for a reason, and I've liked at least one of the attempts by Kellogg's to extend the brand: a version that included some nice, plump mmmmm-marshmallows. Froot Loops Smoothie isn't nearly as successful. When the bag encasing the cereal is unsealed, the aroma generates a nice buzz; don't be surprised if authorities start cracking down on juvenile miscreants huffing from it. Unfortunately the yogurt pieces actually boast less of a kick than the other ovals, so they don't add much, if anything, to the cereal's overall success. Moreover, there aren't very many of them -- at least there weren't in the box I purchased. Why so stingy with the yogurt, Battle Creekers? Is there some kind of looming global yogurt shortage? Before long, will people start hoarding anything "yogurty"?

Conclusion: This Smoothie is a little smoother than necessary. -- Michael Roberts