Milking It: Special K Blueberry

Special K Blueberry Kellogg's Rating: Two spoons out of four

Cereal description: Rice and wheat flakes that are large, rough-hewn and speckled with dark dots that would probably cause most folks to phone their physician if they started showing up on their forehead. There are also supposed to be "blueberry-flavored clusters" consisting of rolled oats and a smattering of other ingredients. But halfway through the box, I've only found one -- so perhaps that description should have been kept singular.

Box description: The guys and gals in the Kellogg's graphics department probably didn't have to put in for a lot of overtime while coming up with their latest design. My box's cover features a yellow, pentagonal "NEW!" banner across the top, an angled yellow stripe near the bottom sporting the words "Our Newest Flavor: Blueberry" next to three pieces of the fruit in question, the familiar Special K logo over a bluish-white backdrop, a bowl of cereal, a verbose fine-print, lower-case description of its contents ("naturally & artificially flavored: crunchy, blueberry, rice & white flakes with oat & blueberry clusters"), and that's it. Okay, everybody, time for lunch! The panel opposite the nutrition information boasts breakfast-touting spiel inspired by the phrases "On Your Mark" (juxtaposed with a pic of a completely different cereal than this one), "Get Set" (its image includes a notebook, an iPod and what may be a set of radio headphones -- notice any redundancy?), and "Go!!!" (the last shot is of a dog with a leash in his mouth, silently urging his human to get his ass off the couch). And the back? A soft-focus, ready-for-a-magazine-spread shot of yet another bowl, this one accompanied by fruit and coffee, paired with another phrase devoid of capital letters: "eat breakfast, weigh less." According to more ad copy below, "research shows that women who eat breakfast, like the Kellogg's Special K Breakfast, weigh less." (What about us dudes? Do we blow up like late-period Orson Welles?) Next to this blather is a photo of what looks like the happiest anchorwoman on the planet. Nothing but good news from now on!

Taste: One of the things I've always liked best about Special K cereals is its light texture. But the latest variations, including Special K Cinnamon Pecan, reviewed in this space last September, utilize heavier flakes -- the result of all that wheat. They're not terrible, just a lot more typical. And the blueberry additives lower the pleasure principle that much further. At this point, cereal manufacturers like Kellogg's haven't found a way to make their version of the fruit work as well as the real thing. Hence, the aroma here suggests blueberry-scented Sharpies -- you may find your miscreant teenager huffing from the open box in the hopes of getting high -- and the taste is about as natural as Spandex. Not that I generally object to flavors that seem to have been invented in a laboratory instead of plucked from a tree. But they've got to provide a kick that makes the phoniness worthwhile -- and that's not the case here.

Conclusion: Special K Blueberry made me blue, all right...

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