I love to whine about food products that have unfairly disappeared. Some of these go away for obvious reasons. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had some amazing licensed foods, including their cereal and pudding pies. Obviously, as their popularity faded, their licensed products went with them.
Some items are seasonal, but don’t manage to make it back the next year. This happened with the winter themed Whipper Snapple, which vanished. This eventually happened with the rest of the line, which is unfortunate, but somewhat expected. I couldn’t really be upset with its disappearance, if only for the fact that I bought about two per year, so I was partially to blame for its lack of success.
Other items go away simply because they didn’t sell well. Sometimes they get completely axed, while other times they get limited distribution. There are very few feelings as terrible as the day you realize that a product is gone. At first, you are inconvenienced, and have to get it at a different supermarket. Then you buy it less, simply because you hardly ever see it. The one day, when you are in the mood for Starburst Ice Pops or Fruit Wrinkles, you are unable to find them anywhere.
In recent times, the internet has made finding a product easier than ever. Put the item into Google, and see what you get. Either you can buy it or you can’t. This makes knowing the status of a product quite simple. This, however, wasn’t always the case.
Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this wasn’t possible. I can’t begin to count the number of times I thought to myself, “Hey, I haven’t seen (INSERT KITSCHY/RETRO PRODUCT REFERENCE HERE) in a while, do they even still make it?” The answer would usually be, “Yeah, I haven’t seen that lately either, I wonder what happened to it.” This wasn’t always the response I would get; sometimes I wouldn’t get any type of response. This depended mostly on whether or not there was someone else in the room when I asked the question.
This is one time I am confident that I am not babbling on about something that has only happened to me. That’s not to say that I’m not babbling on, only this time it is about something that everyone can relate to.
One of the most common subjects of the “I remember that, is it still around?” topic are the General Mills monster cereals. And, if I may be so bold, I don’t understand their wild popularity. They’re good cereals, no doubt about that, but certainly nothing worthy of any type of cult following.
The ridiculous level of popularity that these cereals have achieved might seem strange, since their distribution is so scattered. Actually, the fact that they can be so hard to find is precisely why they are so sought after. There’s really only a few ways this scenario can play out. First, someone might think they like the cereals, never see them around, and therefore will always have that opinion. Second, a person might think they like them, and when they get the opportunity to try them again, they still hold that opinion. Finally, someone might think they like them, get the chance to try them, and realize that they actually don’t like the cereals.
If you are wondering where the scenario of someone not actually thinking they like the cereals is, don’t bother looking. Everyone thinks they like these cereals.
I wasn’t too sure where I stood going into the Halloween season. The only one of the cereals that I eat on a regular basis is Count Chocula. I love that cereal, but don’t recall liking the other two as a kid, the other two being Boo Berry and Franken Berry.
Since I hadn’t had them in so long, I tried all of them, going into each with an open mind and no grudges. And yes, all of these flavors became readily available in my area, for Halloween time. I guess the stores were expecting these to fly off the shelves, because every supermarket has hundreds of the boxes on display.
Please note that I am conspicuously not including the other two phantom cereals from this line, Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy. People like to claim that they have eaten these cereals, but they are lying. If anyone claims to have done so, do not believe them. I haven’t, but at least I am being honest. They both had a fruit theme, although the Mummy cereal had vanilla in it as well.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, it is time for some mind blowing reviewing.
The first is the classic standby, Count Chocula. Its dry form seems good enough; it consists mostly of chocolate puffs, glistening with sugary coating. And, of course, there are the marshmallows. The only shapes I can clearly make out are bats, which makes sense. For some reason, many of the marshmallows are green. To find out why, I needed to consult the back of the box.
Apparently, something went wrong in the laboratory, and now “green goo is everywhere – even in your cereal!” Ugh. In order to find out who did it, you need to play a board game, which I can’t do right now. Not because I am alone, but because I can’t find any scissors; my desk is too messy. I’m going to assume Franken Berry did it, he looks like a spaz.
So far, Count Chocula has proven to be quite hardcore. It stays crunchy after being submerged in milk for quite some time. So far, so awesome. There is one question that still needs to be answered. Is the milk delicious???
The answer to that question is… hold on.
The final milk product has a definite chocolate taste to it, but it isn’t the typical Quik type of chocolate milk. It’s more like Ovaltine, which I can only assume is from all of the vitamins washing off the cereal and into the milk. The milk also doesn’t get very brown, so it is a covert chocolate taste.
I don’t even remember what type of reviews I used to give in the other cereal articles. Either letter grades or number grades… I’m going with letter.
Count Chocula gets an ass kicking A.
Next up is Franken Berry. Out of all of the cereals, I always regarded this as the least cool. Count Chocula was everywhere; it had the popularity and great taste. I didn’t know if Boo Berry was good, but at least it was mysterious. And while I didn’t see Franken Berry very often, I would see it once in a while at a random store, so it had nothing going for it. No great taste, no mystery, and that was also back when it was completely unacceptable for a guy to be into something pink. It still is kind of unacceptable, but at least now I’m old enough to not really care.
In every group of people you know, there will always be one person that claims Boo Berry or Franken Berry is their favorite. Despite the fact that they haven’t eaten it in about five or ten years, they still lie and claim this to be the truth. Franken Berry is the name to drop in the cereal world. If you say Boo Berry is your favorite cereal, or that you just bought a box of Boo Berry, it is met with hostility. “Yeah, whatever, shut up; nobody has seen a box of Boo Berry in a decade.” However, if you say that Franken Berry is your favorite, somehow you turn into a heroic figure. Anyone who is able to get their hands on Franken Berry, let alone eat it enough to declare it their favorite, must have something going for them. Bah.
My girlfriend falls into the aforementioned category of people who lie and say Franken Berry is their favorite cereal. She had bought a box of it at Target recently, and considered herself fortunate to get that one box, since there were no others to be found. I don’t know about that; if I found a lone box of cereal that I hadn’t seen in years, and there were no others to be found anywhere else in the store, I’d be a little suspicious. The box had probably been found in the stock room, after it had fallen behind a shelf and stayed there for the past seven years.
Since she was willing to eat expired food in order to get her fix, I figured maybe she was serious about Franken Berry. So when I saw that the monster cereals had become readily available for the Halloween season, I bought a bunch. I gave her four or five boxes of Franken Berry, and one of Boo Berry. What I didn’t know at the time was that my brother had already bought her five boxes of Franken Berry for her birthday. As a result, she wound up with ten boxes worth of monster cereal love.
I must give credit to my brother; it would have never occurred to me to give cereal as a present. I mean, cereal is awesome, so it seems natural to pass that on to someone else on their special day. I don’t want to give anything away, but I think that all my friends can expect some rectangular shaped boxes on their birthdays.
Now it is time to decide: is Franken Berry good enough to eat ten boxes worth?
The initial impression of the cereal is rather startling. I knew that it was pink, but I didn’t realize it was this pink. If the color of the cereal was any indication of the flavor, I was in for some major league berry blasting action. I haven’t decided whether to add or subtract points for the color. On one hand, it looks awesome; I want a shirt in this color. On the other hand, I don’t like having to squint just to eat a bowl of cereal. Okay, I can’t deny it anymore: it looks awesome.
And as it turns out, the taste is pretty strong. It doesn’t really taste like strawberry, although when the cereal looks like bite sized glow sticks, I don’t think it is expected to taste like real fruit. The taste isn’t bad at all, although a more subdued berry flavor might have improved the overall experience.
The cereal, however, is not the best part… not even close. The real treat is what you get when the cereal is finished: the milk. Franken Berry turns the cereal into strawberry milk, which is infinitely superior to chocolate milk. Well, not infinitely superior, but better.
So, despite my initial misgivings, Franken Berry has proven to be a worthy addition to a cereal rotation, whenever it can be found.
Overall, it gets a solid B.
Today’s final course is the ever elusive Boo Berry. This is, without a doubt, one of the top “Do they still make that” items that are still, uh, made. This was a question that I used to ask, as a naïve youngster. This was before sacrificing a nice chunk of a normal social life, and perusing web sites that discuss cereal and beverages. As a result, I was aware of Boo Berry’s antics.
These antics, in my experience, are laying low and making the occasional cameo appearance. Then, when you see a box, you get all excited, and buy a few. Then you get home and realize you never liked it in the first place.
I assumed that this would be the case again, but I still went into the test with an open mind. After all, Franken Berry had a good showing, so the ghost might as well.
The initial impression is a very big let down. After the day glo pink color of Franken Berry, I was expecting a similarly Boo’s blue to be just as shocking. Alas, it is not. It is a very drab shade of blue, or grayish-purple. So the aesthetics are missing, but the taste might make up for it.
Quite frankly, the taste sucks. It isn’t overtly disgusting, but it isn’t something I would look forward to repeating. It tastes like if you took all the Kix out of Berry Berry Kix and just ate that, except not as good.
The one thing Boo Berry does have going for it is the ghost. He is definitely the coolest of the three. Count Chocula is a vampire with one tooth, and Franken Berry is just way too happy. Boo is laid back, looking debonair in his bow tie and hat.
The cereal, however, doesn’t live up to the mascot… C-
Not only is General Mills coming at you with the triple dosage of monster cereals, it is offering a free video game available for play at www.countchocula.com. The game looks like it would fit in well on the NES, but it’s still good to kill some time. You run around collecting magic wands, so the monsters can stop the green goo. These things happen. You also need to eat marshmallows in order to replenish your health, which sounds like an average day for a typical American.
Finally, when all three wands have been collected, the monsters are able to stop the goo. To say thanks, you are treated to a door knob hanger that you can print out. Or, if you don’t feel like beating the game, you can just get it here. Lazy ass.
If you really want to get a good time in the game, you’re going to need some help. Luckily, each box of cereal contains clues on the side. These clues allow you to guess the password for each monster, which will give you extra power ups during their level. As you can see from the clues, it isn’t easy. If you are somehow able to crack the code, you will be rewarded. If you are unable to guess the password, be careful with the spoon when eating; you’re likely to stab yourself.
Get ready for the hardcore breakneck speed review: Count Chocula – You already know it’s good. Franken Berry – Better than expected, but not as good as the cult following might suggest. Boo Berry – Don’t waste your time eating it; get a tattoo of Boo instead.