Milking It: Trail Mix Crunch Cranberry Vanilla

Trail Mix Crunch Cranberry Vanilla cereal Post Rating: Two spoons out of four

Cereal description: An amalgamation of different grains -- wheat, oats, barley, rice -- blended with dried cranberries, almonds and plenty more. This potpourri produces a munch that's marked more by dissimilarity than consistency -- a crazy compendium of assorted shapes and textures that seems to have been tossed together at random from ingredients left over from other cereals. Think of it as breakfast recycling.

Box description: Looking for some fun graphic designs? You've come to the wrong place, pal. The cover features a bold yellow "NEW!" banner over the "Trail Mix Crunch" logo, rendered in a breezy red font. In the foreground, a giant spoonful of this mix, arranged as carefully as a table centerpiece (complete with a trembling drop of advertising milk clinging jism-like from the utensil's edge), is backlit by a golden sunrise illuminating, or perhaps setting ablaze, a single pine tree. This image is rimmed by the red curve of a cereal bowl juxtaposed with a couple of cranberries, a cleaved almond and a pretty flower, which I may or may not have just eaten. Finally, the "Cranberry Vanilla" label is accompanied by a description -- "Granola, lightly crunchy nuggets, cranberries, almonds and a touch of vanilla flavor" -- that's longer than the lyrics of some hip-hop songs. The side panel opposite the nutrition information pimps other Trail Mix Crunch variations -- there's also Raisin & Almond and Maple Nut & Brown Sugar -- while the back is dominated by a photo of two Caucasion couples in their twenties wearing backpacks and camping clothes so trendy that it's clear their main mission is a photo shoot, not a commune with nature. ("Are you done yet, Mr. Cameraman? Because it's cold out here...") Oh yeah: There's also directions on how to serve the cereal hot: Microwave it for 30 seconds if you'd like "a big crunch," a minute for "a little crunch." Guess that means if it's in there for two minutes, it vaporizes completely.

Taste: Trail Mix Crunch is absolutely fabulous for jaw exercising. If I ate it on a regular basis, I'll bet I'd have the most bulbous jowls in the neighborhood. Flavor-wise, though, it's pretty much what you'd expect from granola -- a little wisp of sensation by about the fifth chew, followed by hours of trying to get the mashed-up remains out of your molars. The dried cranberries provide the main exception to this rule: They provide an occasional burst of pleasure. But there simply aren't enough of them to make TMCCV stand apart from the other three-trillion granola products on the market.

Conclusion: A cereal as good for you as it is boring. Wake me when breakfast is over.

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