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Milking It: Rice Krispies Treats

Rice Krispies Treats Kellogg's Rating: Three spoons out of four

Cereal description: The classic Rice Krispies shape -- a slightly puffed rice kernel -- is still the foundation of Rice Krispies Treats, the cereal spinoff of a marshmallow-laden recipe beloved by people who know more about eating than cooking. But instead of offering mini-bars or squares, as if mom just carved them from a pan, Kellogg's has eschewed uniformity in favor of random shapes. Sometimes the marshmallow-and-rice combo creates individual pieces or small chunks. On other occasions, enormous mounds appear, looking strangely like meteorites hurtling toward our planet to destroy life as we know it.

Box description: The ubiquitous Snap, Crackle and Pop pose on the cover, and Snap has an enormous right arm and hand, apparently developed by lifting a giant spoon full of cereal and not by practicing the other habit that just materialized in your mind. The word "Treats" in the logo is designed to resemble the childhood snack, with a broken "A" serving as a harbinger for the weirdness within. In addition, my box features a tie-in to the movie Kung Fu Panda -- an offer for a "Free Pandana!" for the not-quite-free price of "5 Panda Tokens" (only one is included) dominates the upper portion of the front and the entirety of the back. A pandana, by the way, is described as "the official headgear of ancient Chinese Fighting Pandas," and a couple of asterisked items put its potential effectiveness into context: "Does not guarantee victory, but could help... May at least keep the sweat out of your eyes!" That's closer to truth in advertising than most boxes manage. Oh yeah: A side panel outlines exercises that will allow diners to "train like the Kung Fu Panda masters!," including the "Crane Stand" -- "Balance on one foot all the way through your favorite song!," it advises -- and the "Master Monkey Mode," which suggests that folks "go to the playground and monkey around on the climbing equipment." Guess that means hurling your feces at anyone who strolls past. Fun!

Taste: I know it's apostasy to admit this, but I've always found Rice Krispies to be pretty boring. No wonder that over the years, the boxes have pictured the cereal mixed with bananas or other fruit: Then, they at least taste like something. For that reason, the marshmallow mixture at the heart of Rice Krispies Treats strikes me as an excellent addition, and if it's not quite as sweet as I'd been hoping, I liked the wide variation in the size of the bites. If you're not looking as you shovel the stuff into your yap, you may find that you haven't opened your mouth wide enough to accomodate what's coming your way, but that's okay. The prospect of making a mess can turn any breakfast into an adventure.

Conclusion: Thumbs up to the idea of using marshmallows as glue. If only the same thing would work when it came to home repair. -- Michael Roberts

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