Milking It: Froot Loops with Fruity Golden Bars

Froot Loops with Fruity Golden Bars Kellogg's Rating: Three-and-a-half spoons out of four

Cereal description: Wheat, oat and corn flour ovoids colored in assorted bold hues (neon blue, alien green, strep-throat red, Prince's underwear purple) and speckled with a whitish glaze that looks delectable, and is. Also tossed in for good measure: narrow, three-hole rectangles that are supposed to be gold, although they look mighty orange to me, probably from all that Vitamin C they contain. Just kidding.

Box description: The front cover features the familiar "Froot Loops" logo, with the cereal circles substituting for the O's, above the phrase "Fruity Golden Bars" -- and naturally, the middle word glows as if it's radioactive plutonium. So, too, does one particular bar, which hovers over a bowl of cereal, apparently unsure if it's coming or going. Toucan Sam sits to the bowl's left, seemingly less overjoyed than usual. For one thing, his tongue remains entirely within his lower beak; for another, he's in the sitting position, showing off his rarely seen legs. Nice gams, Sam. The side panel opposite the nutrition information employs an "On Your Mark... Get Set... Go!!!" theme to inspire healthy activities. At one point, the text asks, "How many sit-ups or push-ups can you do during commercials of your favorite shows?" Answer: Commercials are for getting up to find more food, not calisthenics, for God's sake. On the back, meanwhile, Sam attempts to "Solve the Challenges to Discover the Secret Code!" onboard an old shipwreck. Assisting him are three identical toucan tots, who bear a striking resemblance to the cereal's mascot. Who's the lucky bird?

Taste: In a September rave review of Froot Loops Marshmallow, I wrote, "Never been the biggest fan of Froot Loops' most basic recipe. They're pleasant enough, but not as good as other long-timers, including Cocoa Krispies, Smacks and even Pops." Problem is, I hadn't eaten Pops in quite some time, and I must admit to being a bit underwhelmed by them when I tucked into a bowl for last week's review. In contrast, I found myself wowed anew by ye olde Loops, which are the rare cereal still on store shelves that lists sugar as the first ingredient. They're sweeter than the vast majority of brands I've eaten lately -- a true throwback to the days when such a quality was seen as a good thing, as opposed to a warning flag to nutrition Nazis. I also dug their crisp texture, which held up better in milk than I remembered. True, the bars taste exactly like everything else: Adding new shapes to an established cereal is a cheap and easy way to trick customers into buying the same old stuff. Then again, when the same old stuff is this delicious, who's complaining?

Conclusion: Bars or no bars, the flavor is worth its weight in gold.

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