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Milking It: Fruity Cheerios

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Fruity Cheerios General Mills Rating: One and a half stars out of four

Cereal description: Mini-life preservers made of corn and oats and tinted in a variety of hues. But the red, yellow, green, orange and purple colors are bleached out and pale, not bright and vibrant. Could it be a sign?

Box description: My version of the box features a bright red backdrop with various circles of orange, purple and red displayed in artistically pleasing spots. The word "Fruity" over the Cheerios logo is light green, while a gleaming yellow bubble announces that the cereal is a "Good Source of Calcium & Vitamin D: 9 grams of Sugar." Which isn't nearly enough, by the way. Rather than showing a bowl of the stuff, the cereal is displayed in a single giant spoon splashed with advertising milk so out of control that two distinct ovoids can be seen floating into orbit. Opposite the panel featuring nutrition information is more nutrition information -- rip-off! But at least the back of the box features an activity, albeit a dopey one. Diners are supposed to link a joke question with its appropriate punchline, which is only entertaining when mismatched. Maybe it's just me, but I think the answer to "What did Cherry do when Lemon asked for a kiss?" should be, "He squeezed in," not "She puckered up."

Taste: Bland. Nondescript. Boring. This stuff may look like Trix that have been left in the sun too long, but the flavor doesn't even come close to measuring up. This isn't coincidental, I suspect: If the stuff tasted too good, the General Mills flavor scientists probably think, those eating it might begin to wonder if it was actually healthy for them, as Cheerios is supposed to be. But taste this weak is hardly an incentive to keep eating it.

Conclusion: If this is what nutrition tastes like, give me something with no dietary value at all. -- Michael Roberts

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