Milking It: Kellogg's Raisin Bran Extra!

Raisin Bran Extra! Kellogg's Rating: Two-and-a-half spoons out of four

Cereal description: Whole wheat flakes are joined by the usual number of raisins, plus the (very) occasional cranberry, almond slices and yogurt wads with an interior consisting in part of "palm kernel," which I didn't know existed until I read the list of ingredients. I knew about the sugar, though. Oh, yes: I knew a lot about that....

Box description: A "FREE Mail-In Rebate" offer good through March 31, 2010 takes up more of a banner along the top of the box than the declaration that this stuff is "NEW!" Which makes sense, I suppose -- but how do you know if you want more of something until you've tried it in the first place? The main portion of the cover is dominated by a purplish backdrop framed by yellow sunbeams that don't seem to be emanating from Raisin Bran's sun mascot, who's apparently too busy holding a couple overflowing scoops of raisin to do much in the way of shining. The RB logo hovers over the word "Extra!," whose color and texture is practically identical to the advertising milk splashing from an overflowing spoon below. Flakes and yogurt clusters can be seen flying as well, like shrapnel from an improvised explosive device made entirely of breakfast food. The side panel opposite the nutrition information is taken up by a standard "On Your Mark... Get Set... Go!!!" graphic-and-text combo that appears on many different munches, while the back is the place to find additional hype for this "Wholesome & Hearty!" blend and two variations -- original recipe and Raisin Bran Crunch, which got the same rating as the latest version back in February. That doesn't exactly count as progress.

Taste: Raisin Bran is good, if kinda unexciting, stuff -- no doubt about it. But Kellogg's attempt to jazz it up with additional bits and pieces falls short. The almond slices tend to get lost in the flakes, the cranberries are so rare that they don't make much of an impact, and the yogurt clumps, though an interesting notion theoretically, look weird and a mildly unpleasant, and their flavor is so mild that their presence is negligible as well. In the end, I'd rather have more raisins in lieu of all the other elements. That'd be an "Extra!" I could fully endorse.

Conclusion: I'll probably take advantage of that free rebate offer eventually -- but it's not a top priority.

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