Monday, October 6, 2008

Truth never gets soggy in milk.

[Part two in a series. See: the old blog.]

Lies. Rhetoric. Double-speak. These are plagues to our nation in this day and age, walls to a maze that we must navigate as we search for what is real. But the people are hungry for the truth. They are hungry for a prophet. They are hungry for a breakfast cereal that sets them on a path of hope for the day, rather than a soggy, ill-conceived spoonful that leaves them pondering the horrifying mechanisms of the human mind from the moment they wake up until they are once again allowed to cross another day off of the calendar and cry themselves to sleep. Yes, nowhere is the web of falsities that has trapped our culture more apparent than in the cereal aisle—a wall of brightly colored logos, mascots, and false claims, each trying to convince you that they will provide the change you need in your morning. And that’s where I come in. I am the seer. I am the beacon of light that shines through the darkness of aisle seven, guiding you confidently to the express lane. I am…The Cerealist.

The cereal: NEW Froot Loops Smoothies!

The Idea: “Okay, so how about this—‘Fruit Loops Smoothies.’ I know, I know, the name sounds kind of disgusting, but if we make it kind of disgusting, at least they’ll be getting what they paid for. Wilson, write the ad. Maxwell, start designing those boxes. I tell ya, boys, when we print out the packaging it’s like we’re printing money!”

The Packaging: Even judging solely by the title emblazoned across the front of the box, Froot Loops Smoothies aren’t promising. Kellogg’s seems to think that by combining two things everyone loves they’ll automatically create a third thing that people will love—but if this were the case, Shrimp Brownies and George Clooney Milkshakes would have taken off years ago. Underneath the title, the box reads, “with yogurty-covered cereal pieces!” The invention of the word “yogurty” had me wary before the first spoonful—it sounded as if I was about to eat something that was like yogurt, or of yogurt, but which was not necessarily yogurt. A foodstuff should not defy our very vocabulary.

The back of the box, however, is initially promising, containing a maze and some word puzzles—staples of any good cereal box. True, none of these puzzles is challenging enough to last until the cereal’s soggy, but then, if I wanted a challenge, I’d do the New York Times crossword (and if I did the New York Times crossword, I probably wouldn’t be eating a cereal whose two main ingredients are probably sugar and food coloring.)

It’s in the theme of this packaging that Froot Loops falters—the heading declares, “The time has come to dress like a pirate.” Here, Keloggs reveals itself as woefully out of the loop (pun entirely intended) with today’s youth. For one thing, simple market research reveals that the buccaneer trend has passed, and that Vikings are poised to become the new pirates. It’s sad to see this once trendsetting company reach for such a woefully dated reference. What’s next, Kelloggs? “The time has come to ride a bicycle with an enormous front wheel?” “The time has come to die of the common cold?” “The time has come to invent fire?” Secondly, I’m not sure that “the time has come to dress like a murdering, thieving rapist” would be appropriate on a box of Grape-Nuts, let alone a cereal aimed at our nation’s youth.


The product: Upon tipping the box of Froot Loops Smoothies towards my bowl, I was met with a rude surprise. On the initial pour, it seemed that I had only one yogurty piece for every ten traditional loops—a far cry from the five-to-one ratio depicted on the package. Willing to give Kellogg’s the benefit of the doubt, I shook the box and poured again—after all, common cereal physics state that all marshmallows, almonds, and other nontraditional pieces sink to the bottom of the bag. On the second pour however, it became clear that the ratio had been misrepresented on the packaging, and that Kellogg’s quality control has fallen far since the company was founded as the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company on February 19, 1906.

After tasting the cereal, though, I could only be relieved that Kellogg’s had spared me the nightmare of additional yogurty pieces. You see, by “yogurt,” Kellogg’s apparently means “an off-white coating with the consistency of melted crayon and the color of three-day old snow.” Each yogurty piece is a shriveled, smothered ring of artificially flavored oats thats look Anemic when floating next to its colorful, Frooty brethren—like a pale, pasty Englishman in the pool of a Jamaica resort. The pieces left a slick, waxy coating in my mouth; I imagine a similar effect after eating a snail, or a rag soaked in Crisco.


The verdict: I can feel the aftertaste in my mouth even now, meaning that, in addition to “unappetizing” and “misconceived,” Froot Loops Smoothies can add “haunting” to its misdemeanors. Being a long-time champion of Froot Loops—I once correctly identified four out of five loop flavors with my eyes closed—I can only hope that this disappointing sequel hasn’t spoiled the original for me, and that this review has saved you from a similar tragic fate.