Milking It: Kellogg's Corn Pops

Corn Pops Kellogg's Rating: Three spoons out of four

Cereal description: Oversized, yellowish carb wads of varying sizes and shapes. Unlike popcorn, which suggests kernels turned inside out, these pieces seem to have been overinflated and thickened. If they were a little spongier, they could double as packing material.

Box description: During the half-century-plus that Kellogg's has been manufacturing them, Corn Pops (originally called Sugar Pops, naturally) have occasionally been pimped by mascots like Sugar Pops Pete and Poppy, a porcupine -- because nothing makes you hungrier than thought of being impaled by quills. But there's no sign of a surrogate on my box, which features a sunburst-yellow background, a jumbo version of the brand's logo, with the word "POPS" reproduced in the bold red of a fresh blister, and a gaggle of advertising-milk-splashed bits held aloft in a spoon that's not quite as large as a turkey platter, but close. The lower-right-hand corner is reserved for a reproduction of an "Adidas Sports Tee," which is "Free By Mail with 8 tokens" (meaning "Free By Mail, not counting the stamp and envelope, if you buy seven more boxes of cereal). To the left, meanwhile, the phrase "Sweetened Puffed Corn Cereal" is juxtaposed with a quartet of adjectives -- "Crispy," "Glazed," "Crunchy," "Sweet" -- most of which can be used as synonyms for getting high. The side panel opposite the nutrition information advises diners to "Fuel Up For Action!" and provides instructions for creating a "Zig Zag Tag Drill" that would probably cause vomiting if attempted within an hour of downing a load of this particular feed. As for the back, it's devoted to the aforementioned sports tee offer, which has also turned up on other Kellogg's munches. The one with Toucan Sam holding a basketball in one wing is so cool that it makes me want to buy seven more boxes of cereal. Of course, that's not uncommon for me. And inside? The cereal is enclosed in an old-school, quasi-foil bag -- the sort that's virtually impossible to open without shredding the top. Memories, like the corners of my mind...

Taste: Years can go by between my purchases of Corn Pops, and I was reminded why this time around. It's not that they're inedible: They wouldn't have remained in production for more than fifty years if they were. Indeed, they're actually sorta pleasant, if unspectacular, with (despite the long-ago name change) a mildly sugary taste and a nice snap, especially at first. But they don't hold up very well in milk, becoming slightly slimy the longer they're doused. They also begin to lose their crunch, their texture growing closer to that of styrofoam. You've been warned.

Conclusion: Eat 'em fast and all is (pretty) well. But linger too long and you'll pay for it.

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