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Milking It: Barbie Cereal

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Barbie Multi-grain Cereal with Marshmallows Kellogg’s Rating: Two-and-a-half spoons out of four

Cereal description: The cereal pieces consist of hearts evenly split between red and purple – the latter apparently a tribute to men and women of the Armed Services who’ve been wounded in combat. There are also five different types of marshmallows, allegedly shaped like a hand mirror, a jewel, a flower, a purse and a butterfly – although you’d never know it without a guide on the top of the box labeling one from the other. The mirror, which is yellow, with a handle-like protrusion and a purplish oval at the center, looks like a mutant avocado, the jewel is a blue mound, the flower resembles a yellow and green police badge, the purple and white purse could pass for a Quonset hut, and the pink and blue butterfly suggests a clip-on bow tie worn to a prom in 1981.

Box description: Bright pink, as a way of repelling any dude who’s not super-comfortable with his masculinity. The illustrated Barbie on the cover is appropriately willowy, with two bright white bars simulating teeth, no nose other than a couple of slashes for nostrils, and blue eyes so giant that she looks like she’s on something – her own cereal, maybe. The sides of the box both sport nutrition information, as if anyone with an I.Q. over forty could be convinced that this stuff might be a part of a healthy breakfast: boring. But the back is busy. The main phrase reads “Have Fun, Barbie Girl! These games are so totally you!” Activities under and around it include a frame for your “fave photo” (good luck cutting it out without completely destroying it, kiddies); a true-false Barbie quiz featuring questions such as “Friendships are forever” and “Doing your best in school is SO cool!”; a feature that asks tots to match Barbie friends Teresa, Nikki, Raquelle and Summer with their personalities (which one is “so glam, and ready for fun”?); and so-called keepsakes reading “Girls Rule!” and “Cool 2BU!” that can allegedly be used as jewelry. “You can punch a hole and thread pink ribbon through them to wear,” the box urges – but that’s a sure way to look like a twerp in front of that nine-year old across the classroom done up in Abercrombie & Fitch. Cruel move, marketing geniuses.

Taste: Not as strong as anticipated given the radioactive color scheme. The cereal bits are at a medium-crunch level – they don’t require energetic mastication, but they hold up okay in milk. The marshmallows are better than anticipated, particularly for Kellogg’s, which doesn’t excel in this area. They’re fairly crisp, not gummy – but they, too, go for a mild middle ground rather than pushing the flavor to – mmmm-mmmm – the edge of toxicity. And why the hell doesn’t it turn the milk pink? Missed opportunity!

Conclusion: Nothing to be afraid of, but no classic, either. Sorry, girlfriends. – Michael Roberts

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