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Milking It: Barbie as The Island Princess Cereal

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Barbie as The Island Princess Cereal Kellogg's Rating: Three spoons out of four

Cereal description: Corn and oat flour bits squeezed into red and purple heart shapes -- the latter apparently intended as a subtle tribute to our brave soldiers in uniform. These nuggets are supplemented by marshmallows available in a variety of mysterious designs. A purplish butterfly that looks more like a bow tie. A yellow and aqua flower that suggests the head of a supervillain with a really bad color scheme. And a jagged pinkish thing that's a dead ringer for a jagged pinkish thing.

Box description: The Barbie on the cover looks just a wee bit overly made up. Her eyelashes look like flailing black-widow spiders spewing poisonous sparkles and her lips rival Angelina Jolie's. And that's not to mention her crown, which, I think, features a bejeweled goose wearing its own crown and a festooned tail piece made of peacock feathers. Sporty yet practical enough to go grocery shopping in. A blue sky inexplicably pocked with twinkling stars can be seen above her head, while a bowl of the cereal doused with advertising milk occupies the foreground. The side panel opposite the nutrition information as well as the back of the box feature tie-ins to a Barbie as The Island Princess DVD about which I know less than nothing, but which apparently casts Barbie in a princess role, thereby allowing her to stretch out, acting-wise, into a part she's only played on and off for a half century or so. (Unfortunately, an inside-the-box coupon offering $3 off on the disc expired August 31. Damn the luck.) One section invites us to "rank Rosella's island activities from 1 to 5 according to how much energy they use up" -- including "Biking (if she had a bike on the island...)" Come on, people! Give that princess a bike! Also included: trading cards of Princess Rosella, Tika (an elephant), Azul (a peacock -- one who either sheds or got thoroughly plucked for that cover illustration), Queen Marissa and Prince Antonio, who resembles old favorite Ken except gayer. As if that's possible.

Taste: I was thoroughly prepared to be underwhelmed by what looked to be another poorly thought-out product -- but lo and behold, it's pretty good stuff thanks largely to the cereal pieces, which boast a mildly fruity flavor without actually tasting like any fruit known to man or beast. The marshmallows are less impressive. Kellogg's remains behind the curve in marshmallow technology: They tend toward gumminess, not crispness. Still, even mediocre marshmallows are better than none, making the overall combination pretty enjoyable. Operative word: pretty.

Conclusion: I'm not ready to be voted off this island. -- Michael Roberts

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