Milking It: Special K Cinnamon Pecan

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Special K Cinnamon Pecan Kellogg's Rating: Three spoons out of four

Cereal description: Brown-tinted flakes made of rice and wheat of various shapes, sizes and textures. Imagine a topographical map of a mountainous region run through a blender set on "chop." Pecans are part of the combination, too, but finding them is only slightly easier than spotting a dude at a screening of Mama Mia!

Box description: To make it clear that Special K is a cereal for grown-ups in general (and women in particular), the designers at Kellogg's clearly attempted to make this container as staggeringly dull as possible -- and they succeeded. The cover is dominated by a big red "K," a white bowl filled with cereal, a pile of ground cinnamon beneath three artfully arranged sticks of the stuff and five pecans -- period. The side panel opposite the nutrition information features photos of seven other Special K mutations whose boxes are similarly dull. And the back is filled with the same "Nutrition at a Glance" info that turns up on so many other Kellogg's cereals. Where are the games? (Adults like games.) Where is the mascot? (Adults like mascots.) Where is the toy surprise? (Adults like toy surprises -- especially the kind that vibrate.)

Taste: Given my mania for sugary/chocolaty fare, not to mention my gender, I'm hardly the typical Special K fan. But I've always liked the stuff. The original recipe is lighter than regular Kellogg's Corn Flakes, and also sweeter -- an important component, to say the least. Which is not to say that Cinnamon Pecan is all that similar to its namesake. The flakes are larger, thicker, coarser -- less like Special K than Wheaties, which has never been my idea of a Breakfast of Champions. Fortunately, the flakes are crisp instead of heavy and the taste is sharper and more pungent (in a good way) than I'd anticipated. As for the pecans, I didn't even realize at first that they were among the ingredients, since none of them made their way into my first three bowls. They exist, as I discovered after dumping the remainder of the box into a giant mixing bowl and conducting a reconnaissance mission. Unfortunately, though, they'd all sunk to the bottom of the interior bag. Apparently our friends at Kellogg's didn't factor gravity into their computations.

Conclusion: If you feel compelled to eat something nutritious, you could do a lot worse than this. But don't make a habit of it. -- Michael Roberts

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