Marshmallow Blob Training Centers

Kellogg’s DreamWorks Kung Fu Panda Crunchers

By: Kellogg’s

I Paid: $2.50 for a 9.9-ounce box (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2stars


Marketing: 3stars

“Pandas never skip breakfast and neither should you!” Wise words on the box of the cross-promotional Kung Fu Panda Crunchers cereal. The DreamWorks movie of the same name received surprisingly rave reviews; unfortunately, it seems unlikely that a similar fate awaits this multigrain cereal laced with an assortment of thematically appropriate marshmallows.

You have to give the cereal a certain amount of credit just for showing up: The box is, in fact, festooned with movie-focused stuff such as a “Train Like the Kung Fu Panda Masters (Be Sure to Have an Adult Watch While You Are Training)” guide. And it’s hard to fault the marshmallow choices: a white blob with two little black blobs (panda), an orange Pac-Man (fortune cookie), a green blob (training center), and a white-and-black circular blob (yin/yang).

From a taste perspective, the cereal’s concept—Kix meets Lucky Charms—is relatively reasonable. The problem is that for a martial arts–themed cereal, Kung Fu Panda Crunchers is surprisingly unbalanced. The multigrain puffs are the problem: They sport a heavily toasted, almondlike flavor that dominates the milk and drives even the marshmallows, which should be the star players, into the background.

The marshmallows aren’t blameless either. They’re small and underpowered, unlike the Lucky Charms charms, which blast their way to the forefront of your palate.

All that said, it probably won’t shock anyone to learn that not every single thing associated with a cartoon kung-fu-fighting panda can be a benchmark for high quality.

Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Chocolate Clusters

By: Post

I Paid: $3.69 for a 14.5-ounce box (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3stars


Marketing: 2stars

Question: What do you do after creating a novel, well-balanced, sweet-but-not-oversweet, deliciously crunchy cereal that appeals to all age groups and genders pretty much equally?

Answer: Add “real chocolate clusters.”

Seriously, Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Chocolate Clusters? Was this necessary? What is it about America, specifically, that causes our corporate entities not only to not rest upon the laurels of their successes, but also to immediately and actively spoil anything vaguely well-received with a slew of sequels and variants?

Ah, yes: public ownership of corporations. It’s not about profit; it’s about growth.

The newly adulterated version of the cereal isn’t as elegant as the classic Honey Bunches of Oats and tastes almost exactly like a breakfast-cereal version of the Drumstick ice cream treat: Crunchy cone meets low-grade chocolate shell, plus ice cream (or, in this case, milk).

But as the milk works its magic, the edge comes off the cereal and the harsher aspects of the chocolate clusters evaporate. The milk turns brown, and suddenly you’re enjoying something pretty darn close to a flake-based version of Cocoa Krispies, another perfect cereal that should brook no changes.

And while the chocolate-cluster incarnation of Honey Bunches of Oats should (and will) not displace the original version, Post should be saluted for playing with fire and not getting particularly burned.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.