Milking It: Frosted Krispies

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Frosted Rice Krispies Kellogg's Rating: Two spoons out of four

Cereal description: Toasted kernels of crispy puffed rice visually differentiated from regular Rice Krispies by... nothing. Yep, they look identical, which means keeping Frosted Krispies and their namesake segregated must be a bitch.

Box description: The box's cover features Snap, his red hair like a couple chunks of carrot affixed to his head, holding a giant spoonful of cereal with a hand big enough to palm a medicine ball; blond-tressed Crackle, wearing a red-and-white knit cap that'd make him a big hit with the Rastas in his neighborhood, spinning a bowl on his finger; and brunette, big-toothed Pop sprinkling sparkles that circulate against a blue backdrop like a constellation. In addition, my box features tie-ins to the summer animated smash Kung Fu Panda, with an up-front offer of a "Free Pandana!" in exchange for "5 Panda Tokens," side panel advice about how to "Train Like the Kung Fu Panda Masters!" -- "Be sure to have an adult watch you while you are training," a fine-print snippet warns -- and back-of-the-box copy that describes a Pandana as "the official headgear of ancient Chinese Fighting Pandas." (Hurry: the offer expires in July 2009.) Oh yeah: Inside the box, there are recipes for "Rice Krispies Treats" -- not "Frosted Krispies Treats." Yet another clue that the distinctions between one and the other are microscopic.

Taste: The look of food has a lot to do with our reaction to it -- and because Frosted Krispies duplicate Rice Krispies appearance precisely, it's tough to build up much anticipation about that first bite. Lucky thing, because the flavor isn't particularly scintillating. Regular Rice Krispies have always been bland: That's why back in the day, the boxes featured sugar and chunks of fruit desperately needed to jazz it up. But the sweetening invisibly applied to Frosted Krispies has a very modest effect -- and it quickly fades in milk. Before long, you're eating plain, old, boring Rice Krispies. Yippee.

Conclusion: After munching this stuff, I was the one who was frosted... -- Michael Roberts

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