Milking It: Disney's Princess Fairytale Flakes

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Disney's Princess Fairytale Flakes General Mills Rating: A half spoon out of four

Cereal description: Flakes made of corn -- in other words, corn flakes. Except that these corn flakes are particularly thick and sharp; a martial-arts expert could probably use them as a substitute for Chinese throwing stars. And they're lightly sprayed with an odd, pinkish substance -- just enough to make it look as if the cereal is running a fever. Hungry yet?

Box description: Cinderella and Snow White pose demurely on the cover -- but their come-hither expressions suggest that they're entirely oblivious to the fact that the cereal's name is an enormous insult aimed directly at them. Fairytale flakes? That's you, ladies. Predictably, a bowl of cereal is displayed in the foreground of the box front, while the background consists of rolling hills, a lovely pink castle and a trio of animated birds who have absolutely no reason for being there, other than the fact that Disney and animals with humanoid eyes go together like Sarah Palin and a Saks Fifth Avenue charge card. The side panel opposite the nutrition information features plugs for two other "family favorites" from Disney and General Mills: Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Berry Crunch and Little Einsteins, a mediocre munch previously reviewed in this space. Meanwhile, the back of the box features Cindy plus Sleeping Beauty and Belle, her sisters in effective merchandising, arrayed around a series of "Fun Games;" thank goodness they added that particular adjective, or I might not have known that they're supposed to be entertaining. In addition, there's more blather about healthy foods beneath a "Princess Sequence" and "Belle's Maze," which features the heroine from Beauty and the Beast at one end of a squiggly string and a bowl of what looks like pork and beans on the other. Yes, I, too, am confused.

Taste: Fairytale Flakes aren't light and crisp, as anything associated with princesses should be. Instead, they're oppressively heavy and strangely inorganic, like chips of insulation. And if the pink spackling is supposed to be sweet, well, it ain't nearly sweet enough. True, the stuff does turn the milk pink, but only slightly. The coloration suggests a single drop of food coloring, not Strawberry Quik. Dis-ap-pointed.

Conclusion: I always finish the boxes of cereal I buy for this feature, because I hate to waste even the lousy brands. But consuming all of this one will be even more of a chore than usual. Gulp. -- Michael Roberts

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