Milking It: Strawberry Chex

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Strawberry Chex General Mills Rating: Two spoons out of four

Cereal description: A roasted rice and corn meal concoction arrayed into puffy squares that resemble a prison window with double-paned bars. Half are the usual Chex light brown, while the other half have been sprayed with pinkish speckles that suggest confectioners sugar after it's been run through a washing machine with a red shirt.

Box description: Any cereal that's supposed to be good for you winds up in a boring box. If it's not a formal regulation passed down from the finger-waggers at the Food and Drug Administration, it might as well be -- and Strawberry Chex certainly doesn't go against the (whole) grain. The cover features a single spoonful of cereal resting on a bed of advertising milk that boldly defies the laws of gravity; its edges are sharp enough to be used for picking a lock. The logo features the word "Strawberry" in cursive over a bright red variation of the Chex logo and the slogan "With the Deliciously Light Taste of Strawberries" -- a message so important to convey that it's repeated, word for word, in the lower right-hand corner. The panel opposite the nutrition information touts "these other delicious flavors!" -- Chocolate Chex, which really is pretty delectable, and Honey Nut Chex. The back, meanwhile, touts the cereal again with bland ad copy topped by the line "Simply Delicious." Me thinks thou doth protest too much.

Taste: Yeah, yeah, original Chex is a classic -- and I don't disagree. But the supposedly "light" flavor here is heavier than is implied by the "8 grams of sugar" boast that appears twice on the box -- and not in a good way. The aroma is unpleasantly thick and the cereal itself doesn't have much snap or tang to it. Instead, it's rather sickly -- the opposite of its claims. I don't care that the results aren't even slightly redolent of strawberries; I'm a big fan of artificiality, and the fakier the better. But the results seem like they should be stocked at the perfume counter, not in the cereal aisle.

Conclusion: Chex this one off your list. -- Michael Roberts

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