For those about to
rock read my third annual review of the exact same cereal, we salute you!
Listen, Frank. Can I call you Frankie? Francis? Franco-Prussian War?
You know I love you, man. It’s true, it’s true: I tell people I love the taste of Count Chocula the best—not counting my estranged (emphasis on the strange) love, Fruity Yummy Mummy, who’s currently jamming to “Walk Like an Egyptian” in some funky undead pyramid disco in the sky.
But from an aesthetic standpoint, I like you best. I promise. No I don’t mean you, you. Let’s be real here: Boo Berry is both suaver and cuter in his debonair porkpie hat. I’d let him take me to the Poltergeist Prom any day. No way my father would let me get picked up by a pink dude with steampunk apparatuses on his neck. We live in the clean energy age, Francesco.
But your cereal? Those neon pink ghosts and pastel marshmallows? The pastel marshmallows that make the whole thing feel like a Taiwanese night market?
Hoo, doggy! Or should I say, A-WOO, werewolfy!
François, your artificially strawberry-flavored cereal is the prettiest I’ve ever seen. I’d hang it on my refrigerator if it contained enough magnesium per serving (I don’t understand how magnets work). But for now, I have to eat it. So let’s forget about the Count, forget that I just swooned so hard over Boo Berry that I crashed through your coffee table, and let’s have Franken Berry for breakfast.
Either my taste buds are growing senile or Franken Berry tastes less like strawberries every year. While Count Chocula’s cocoa stock has held its market value since the Great Oat Flour Crash of the 21st Century, and while Boo Berry has always tasted ambiguous enough to make Froot Loops look like Whole Foods, Franken Berry’s tickled-pink ghosts have progressively become more corny and less berry-flavored.
Though considering how I almost just used the pun “berry-ly berry-flavored,” excessive corniness may just be a growing epidemic.
Is this a bad thing, though? Maybe. As Franken Berry’s ghost pieces—which are just as chewy and airy as they are crispy or crunchy—include only mild notes of candied strawberry glaze over a robust, toasted maize base (picture a pink Laffy Taffy blended with pink Powerade Zero and a hunk of cornbread), they don’t even feel much like a breakfast cereal anymore. Especially in the face of other new cereals that sucker punch your taste buds with sugar-glazed bits or chocolate chunks, something as plain as aerated strawberry husks doesn’t hold much persuasive sway, aside from its nostalgia value.
And the marshmallows don’t help much, either. The comparatively tame monster cereal gimmick this year was the inclusion of “Monster Marshmallows” in each respective frightening foodie’s cereal. But while Count Chocula got big, honkin’ lightning bolts that jacked up the marshmallow fluffiness of his entire fudge-flavored fare, the lumpy Franken Berry heads here are no bigger than the other assorted lavender ghosts and blue bats.
Plus they look more less like Frank’s head and more like a Ditto that got worked over with a rolling pin.
Franken Berry’s strawberry base needs adequate marbit creaminess to thrive, as the sugar nuggets bring a subtle “berries and cream smoothie” blend that offsets all that corn. So I advise stockpiling all your marshmallows—just like all of us did back in the day as part of Universal Kid Law—and saving them for a select few Loaded FlufferCruncher Bites (patent pending on this technique).
Of course, this will leave you with a bowl full of bland and boring pink bits, so I recommend taking up pen-palling as a hobby. You’ll have plenty of packing peanuts to ship gifts with.
Milk is far from imperative, as this iteration of Franken Berry tastes better as a sweet popcorn substitute during movies or a controversial trail mix mix-in for parties you want to be kicked out of. Milk makes the marshmallows sweeter, creamier, and tastier, but it mostly just makes the strawberry ghosts chewier and styrofoamier.
Since I already made a Pop-Tartstrosity using melted Count Chocula marshmallows and Halloween toaster pastries, I figured I owed Franken Berry the same “luxury” and my arteries the same punishment. I froze my Pop-Tarts before adding the toasted marshmallows, so it ended up tasting like strawberry shortcake ice cream inside a sugar cone…wrapped in a corn tortilla. My conclusion? Needs some strawberry Go-Gurt to complete the hedonistically creamy-crunchy trilogy.
Overall, Franken Berry just isn’t doing it for me this year. The marshmallows feel smaller, the ghosts feel starchier, and every other new cereal just seems more flavorful. My sincere hope for next year’s flavor gimmick is “Flavor-Blasted Monster Cereals.” Take the powder-coated goodness of Thin Mints Cereal, Strawberry and Blueberry Toast Crunch, and baste Count, Frank, and Boo like they’re Cornish game hens.
Until then, I’ll have to pour Smucker’s jelly on my Flavor-Blasted Goldfish.
See what you made me do, Franken Berry?
The Bowl: Franken Berry Monster Cereal (2017)
The Breakdown: All corn flavor and no jumbo marshmallows makes Frank a dull boy, and Dan hungry for something innovative.
The Bottom Line: 5 Powerade purées out of 10