Breakfast and Brunch

Milking It: Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp

Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp General Mills Rating: Three spoons out of four

Cereal description: Corn discs sprayed with cocoa-flavored confectionery coating and speckled with dark blobs meant to suggest chocolate chips -- and from a distance, they really do resemble them. Close up, however, they look more like dark, potentially malignant facial growths. Solution: Don't look at them close up.

Box description: The Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp logo -- with cereal pieces standing in for the o's in "cookie" -- dominates the box, with mascot Chip the Wolf peering over it, his giant tongue reaching almost up to his eyes. Bet he's popular with the ladies. The lower portion of the box, meanwhile, features a red bowl of cereal overflowing with advertising milk -- the kind so thick that its splashes resemble lava flows -- and a small notice inviting breakfasters to "Build Chip's VACU-JET INVENTION on Back!" And indeed, said Vacu-Jet dominates the rest of the packaging. The side panel opposite the nutrition information includes "VACU-JET INSTRUCTIONS" only slightly less complicated than the owners manual to my laptop, while the back features the VACU-JET itself, a contraption supposedly made of wood paneling and books with titles like 101 Jet Jokes. (As a bonus, none of said jokes are included.) Chip, meanwhile, wears goggles and the sort of crazed expression we associate with meth heads trying to act normal while purchasing cold medication at their neighborhood Wal-Mart. Take it easy, pal. Everything's going to be all right...

Taste: Our friends at Wikipedia reveal that Cookie Crisp was originally manufactured by Ralston Purina, which makes sense, since the cereal itself has a sort of dog-treat consistency. Since I occasionally envy my pooch's faux beef jerky strips, that's not necessarily a negative for me. Current manufacturers General Mills certainly take the "double chocolate" part of the moniker seriously: The taste is ultra-heavy, leaving behind a thick sheen of something or other at the back of my mouth after I eat. If My Friends Tigger & Pooh Corn Puffs are gluten-free, Double Chocolate Cookie Crisp seems gluten-full. Predictably, I've learned to live with, and even enjoy at times, this lingering after-taste; it makes my phlegm taste intermittently yummy for a good hour after eating. But since it's still a little bit gross even for someone like me, I can only imagine how a normal person would react to it.

Conclusion: For serious sugar hounds only. -- Michael Roberts