Who the hell puts marjoram and sage into a breakfast cereal? We repeat: A BREAKFAST CEREAL.
Overall Rating: 59
This doesn't deserve to be as interesting as it turns out to be. However intriguing the flavour profile out of the box, the spiciness doesn't compensate for the bitter cynicism of the very concept, to say nothing of its execution.
|Image from the confusing Institute collection|
This is the second of a pair of joke cereals released by Post earlier this year in "honour" of something called National Cereal Day in the U.S. I'll give the marketing weasels at Post credit for this much: you can actually see a resemblance, in some of these cereal pieces, to their real-world namesakes. Some of the pieces look like cartoon chicken drumsticks; others are rectangles with a sort of waffle pattern in them. Mind you, the weird flaccid flakes we mentioned in last week's review are in this product as well, for no good reason. But at least this joke stays funny for long enough to get the box open.
We feel confident those who test this particular product are going to be drawn to the list of ingredients, because the smell (to say nothing of the taste, which we'll deal with next paragraph) is so astonishing. The hint of savoury (the sensation, not the herb) is strong the instant the bag is opened—a hint that is explained when one realizes that amongst the ingredients are onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, thyme, and the aforementioned marjoram and sage. Those are not normally considered part of a balanced breakfast.*
Taste and Texture, Dry
The initial taste impact of the chicken-like pieces is horrifying. The herbs are weirdly bitter, making this seem to be the sort of cereal you give to Bad Children. But a curious thing happens after a couple of chews: the spiciness begins to combine with the otherwise-cloying sweetness (that would be your honey, barley malt, corn syrup and cinnamon) in a way that is intriguing if not entirely satisfying for those who are sweet of tooth. There is sufficient black pepper in the spice mix that there is a bite, the merest hint of heat, on the finish. And it's possible to lift a lot of this product from the box without having one's fingers glue themselves together. Just be careful, though: the distance between enough of this stuff out of the box and too much of it is very small indeed.
Taste and Texture, with Milk
Again, this is something that absolutely should not work and yet somehow does. Mind, the window of pleasure for this product is very small indeed, and closes not so much with a bang as with a sodden deliquescent whuffle. But for a few tantalizing seconds a bowl of this product with cow-juice produces a peculiar deliciousness that is, in its own highly artificial way, reminiscent of the mixture of sweet and savoury that one finds in some Moroccan dishes. Sucrophiles are warned, though: don't dawdle through your snack, because when this stuff stops being fun it becomes quite nasty indeed.
Remember the movie Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? The TV series "Sealab 2020"? There is something more than a little nauseating about a consumer product deliberately designed to mimic what others created in earnest. Ineptitude, yes, but earnest, serious ineptitude. Post's recent assault on boomer nostalgia and post-millennial irony is a breakfast equivalent of these cheap jokes. You might find yourself laughing, but the laughter turns bitter all too soon. [June 2019]
*The fact that the author of this piece regularly consumes soup for breakfast, and so is familiar indeed with these spices as a matutinal pleasure, is beside the point here.