Milking It: Arrowhead Mills Puffed Millet Cereal

Puffed Millet Cereal Arrowhead Mills Rating: No spoons out of four

Cereal description: Small, light tan beads of grain intermittently marked by dark brown specks. They resemble the tiny bits that wind up at the bottom of the popcorn bowl along with unpopped kernels and/or random seeds that attract birds to overgrown areas. Not that tweeters would likely enjoy them any more than humans will.

Box description: First of all, it's not a box -- it's a clear plastic bag with dark stripes across the top and toward the lower third that feature artsy illustrations of farmers working relentlessly under a bright blue sun -- sort of like the Banana Splits. Occupying the foreground is the utilitarian Arrowhead Mills logo, the slogan "Naturally Nutritious," graphics announcing that the product is made of whole grain (fine by me) and features no salt (not so bad, either). There's also a description of millet, and that's a good thing, since I needed a tutorial. It reads: "MILLET, 'The Little Giant:' The smallest of all grains, Millet has been cultivated i the East since 4,000 BC. With its complete protein and fat free composition, millet has been a staple longer than wheat and rice. It makes a tasty, puffed cereal, to be enjoyed anytime." Too bad this last sentence ends a factual description with blatant lies. As for the back, it sports nutrition information opposite a roster of additional boasts ("Vegan...," "All Natural -- no artificial anything!" and -- egad -- "No Added Sugar") and a recipe for something called "Cheesy Dill Squares" that sound horrifying, if only because it uses this stuff as a primary ingredient.

Taste: Eaten dry, Puffed Millet Cereal tastes like -- nothing. And milk is one of nature's miracles, in my view. But a weird kind of alchemy takes place when these elements are combined, with the millet managing to make the milk's flavor far, far, far less pleasant than it would have been on its own. In addition, the texture of the millet is downright gag-worthy. Rather than crunching or snapping, the pieces react like mini-sponges that must be masticated into an undifferentiated mush prior to being choked down. After the first bite, the combination made me (1) wince, (2) moan aloud, and (3) despair at the realization that finishing the container, as I've done with every breakfast food I've ever purchased, would even constitute torture at Guantanamo Bay. Point blank, this is the worst cereal I've ever eaten, earning Milking It's first-ever no-spoons rating (and necessitating a search for the new empty-silverware-container graphic seen above). Even thinking about it makes my gut hurt.

Conclusion: A new standard has been set. What an accomplishment.

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