I feel like I’m starring in a movie trailer for an unnecessary 2017 reboot of a classic ’80s film. You know, the kind of trailer that inevitably starts with all the wizened and crow-footed stars of the first movie reuniting in their old haunt to topically argue about how things just aren’t as good as they used to be and crack jokes about iPads?
Yeah, that’s how I feel about buying my 2017 box of Count Chocula, because those trailers always open with someone muttering the same line: “Well, here we are again.” Or maybe, “Hello, old friend.” Or even, “Y’all haven’t aged a day.”
Even though a year has passed since I’ve tasted the Count’s sweet cocoa spoils (not counting the expired box I found in my pantry and begrudgingly—though not regretfully—ate on the 4th of July), I feel like this caped chocolate cruncher has never left my side. Like a warm memory or a Tamagotchi that just won’t die, the nostalgic spookiness of Count Chocula—who’s been on shelves for 46 years now, despite being an ageless vampire—is resonant enough to keep me thinking about old elementary school Halloween parties and goofy candy corn cupcakes all year long.
So while I’m sure I won’t find much new to say about Count Chocula’s taste that I haven’t said in previous reviews, I owe this trusty Hershey’s syrup-blooded bloodsucker his annual tribute. Let’s sharpen our canines and start munchin’!
Err, actually let’s take a quick detour and appraise the box art. 2017’s monster cereal boxes are a return to form, after 2016’s election gimmick flopped pretty hard. This fall’s classic design is pretty similar to 2013’s box, just with a different perspective, a cross-brand monster mash on the back, and some neat little touches—the web on General Mills’ logo, the direct “BACK FOR HALLOWEEN” callout—to make it a cardboard cereal vessel worth snuggling under a blanket with during old Goosebumps re-runs.
Oh, and this year’s “Monster Marshmallows” mini-gimmick, of course. While it’s not as magnetically attractive as color-changing milk or Yummy Mummy, the idea of custom marbits for each monster is cool enough for me to prepare forceps and resin cubes to carefully preserve each ‘mallow in.
Though the box art is ambiguous about how different the marshmallows are, pouring a bowl of Count Chocula makes it obvious. There are some classic, swirled ghost and bat marbits in here, but the most obvious addition is a ton of (what I believe to be are) lightning bolts—even though they look more like purple snaggle-toothed fangs and marbled t-bone steaks.
These sweetened lightning bolts are also way bigger than your standard cereal marshmallow. This shocking sugar surface area, combined with crunchy cocoa ghosts that seem far smaller than previous versions (I’m probably just getting bigger) makes for a Count Chocula taste with new nuances. The balance of chocolate to marshmallow fluff is now tipped in favor of those nuggets of granulated meteorological phenomena, making each spoonful sweeter, softer, and more vanilla-tinged than ever.
While this may suck for chocoholics, this New Marshmallow Order also downplays some of Count Chocula’s negatives, as the often overwhelmingly corny and aerated chocolate ghosts have their faults glazed over by sweet, sweet, cocoa-swirled sugar.
Besides, Count Chocula always had the best marshmallows. Even Lucky the Leprechaun wants to join his undead army.
As it has been since 1971, adding milk to Count Chocula is the way to go, as it saturates every cratered ghost and squishy marbit with sweet creaminess. And since 2017 Count Chocula is already the marshmallowiest, even more of that sweet white nectar effectively turns this stuff into a bowl of chocolate-fondued Count Creamula.
I promise to never, ever say Count Creamula again. Because if I do, it’ll summon him, Beetlejuice style.
But because just reviewing the cereal would be boring, I knew I had to cobble together an experimental, Count Chocula-based recipe. After surveying the sad state of my pantry, the answer was obvious. And stupid.
In a display that would leave even Gordon Ramsay speechless, I toasted a handful of marbits on my stovetop, sandwiched them between two Halloween Chocolate Fudge Pop-Tarts with some of the Count’s ghosts, then hot marshmallow glued a few more to the top, for good measure.
It certainly won’t get accepted into the Louvre, but my Frankenstein’s Monte Cristo tasted fantastic. So good, in fact, that if you see me next January on My Strange Addiction as “That Guy Who Can’t Eat Anything But Pop-Tart And Cereal Sandwiches,” know this is where my downfall began.
The combo of marshmallow, buttery crust, and an intricate hierarchy of chocolate flavors made it taste like a s’more gone batty, while my hastily affixed toppers evoked the crunchy, sprinkled legacy of Spookylicious Pop-Tarts.
This artery-clogging abomination was exactly the silly, childish thing I needed to kick off the Halloween season in style. I’m ever-grateful to the ever-delightful Count Chocula for making it happen—though he’s a little less chocolatey this year, his cereal has emboldened me to start buying fake spiderwebs by the Donkey Kong-sized barrel-full.
The Bowl: 2017 Count Chocula Cereal
The Breakdown: More marshmallowy than chocolatey this year, Count Chocula is nevertheless anostalgic treat that sparks hunger and seasonal imagination alike.
The Bottom Line: 9 Count Creamula costumes (oh no, what have I done?!) out of 10