Milking It: Disney's Little Einsteins Fruity Stars

Little Einsteins Fruity Stars General Mills Rating: Two spoons out of four

Cereal description: Little Einsteins does indeed consist of fruity stars in a variety of shades: surprisingly bright yellow, light orange, watered-down green, aquamarine and a reddish hue that, for the sake of simplicity, I'll call "red." Clearly, Simpsons lawyer Lionel Hutz (voiced by the late Phil Hartman) could never ensnare Disney in the sort of dream false-advertising lawsuit he leveled against the makers of The NeverEnding Story.

Box description: The front cover features four of the main Little Einsteins characters -- Leo, June, Quincy and Rocket -- looking unnaturally peppy, as cartoons are wont to do, through the front windshield of a flying craft. The nose of the contraption seems to bash into a bowl of Fruity Stars, which splash around amid faux milk as thick as wallpaper spackling. Meanwhile, text describes the product inside as "Lightly sweetened naturally & artificially fruit flavored cereal," which covers a lot of bases, as well as a "good source of whole grain, calcium, vitamin D," which would no doubt have relieved Einstein himself had he known that someday his name would be used to sell breakfast food to children instead of atomic principles. The side of the box opposite the nutrition information touts other Disney cereal "family favorites," including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Berry Crunch and Princess Fairytale Flakes, whose name sounds more than a little insulting. A couple of games appear on the back, such as "Quincy's Sequence" and "June's Maze" -- but half the space features more blather about the healthfulness of cereal contained within. Quit rubbing it in!

Taste: A commenter on my harsh review of My Friends Tigger & Pooh Corn Puffs felt I should have graded on the curve since the cereal is one of the rare crunches on the market to be gluten-free -- and Little Einsteins is, too. But while that's an important factor to some parents, I base my takes on how much fun the stuff is to eat, and Fruity Star racks up a mediocre score under that criteria. Yeah, it's better than Tigger & Pooh Corn Puffs, which tasted like eating nothing. In contrast, Little Einsteins is like a considerably milder version of Trix. But I want wilder, not milder. That's the type of formula any scientist should be able to understand.

Conclusion: Next time you General Millers make a cereal that's nutritious, try adding some more flavor, too. Wise up, geniuses. -- Michael Roberts

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