Milking It: Apple Jacks Gliders

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Apple Jacks Gliders Kellogg's Rating: Three spoons out of four

Cereal description: Corn, wheat and oat flour provides the foundation for this crunchy treat, but the colors of the pieces, which include "limited edition" gliders (a.k.a. puffy triangles with a whole in the middle) along with the familiar bespeckled doughnuts, are like nothing found in nature. Pale orange that looks like a fake tan on a ninety-something Floridian. Light blue that resembles the hair on the aforementioned ninety-something Floridian. And a green that I was surprised to discover didn't glow in the dark. Maybe that's something to work on for the next limited edition....

Box description: Apple Jacks containers have long featured a green backdrop and a wonderfully bold/cheesy '60s-style logo. But the other elements on the latest version are truly zany. A curved cinnamon stick spews chunky fragments that flow past a couple of bizarre characters. First up is a Cinna-Mon, a stick figure with arms, legs, oversized eyeballs and a knit cap hiding dreadlocks (he's probably got the munchies), who's seen surfing on a blue sheet of paper (I know, it's supposed to be a glider; just sayin'). Below him is a rubbery looking apple named Apple; no relation to Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow. He has the bulging eyes and enormous choppers of a serial killer about ready to bite into his latest victim, plus red sneakers and a leaf sprouting from his cranium -- and he holds the blue glider over his head as if he's ready to fling himself off a cliff. Cowabunga, crazy dude. The cover's lower section also features supersized representations of cereal marked with giant splotches resembling blisters on a measles patient. The actual pieces don't look anything like them, and that's good. The side panel opposite the nutrition information is much more sedate -- a generic Kellogg's staple about getting off to a good start every morning eats up the space -- while the back is crowded with photo illustrations of Cinna-Mon and Apple gliding all over creation. "Outa my way," Apple tells a passing seagull. Good advice.

Taste: My sixteen-year-old daughters absolutely adore this stuff. In fact, they almost finished off the box before I could get to it -- a strong recommendation if ever there was one. That said, I've never been as enraptured by Apple Jacks as they are, and the presence of the gliders -- which are nothing more than a marketing gimmick, albeit an entertaining one -- hasn't changed that. The main positive has to do with sweetness: Sugar is the first ingredient! And while neither the apple nor the cinnamon taste that much like real apple and real cinnamon, the unnaturalness is naturally delicious. The drawback, then, is texture. The pieces start out crisp and flavorful, but they quickly become sodden and a bit rubbery no matter how quickly a breakfaster shovels them down. Still, this minor quibble shouldn't dissuade anyone from giving them a try. If you resist, Apple won't be pleased -- although I'll bet Cinna-Mon would be mellow about it.

Conclusion: If you want to eat any of this stuff yourself, hide it from your children.

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