Confession time: when I was a kid, I loved the Keebler Elves.
Ernie. Ma Keebler. Buckets. Fast Eddie. Even that mischievous miscreant Elwood. I treated my E.L. Fudge cookies like edible action figures, using them to reenact the Hollow Tree’s treat assembly line and play games of “synchronized milk diving.” Later in my adolescence, the cookies even became diplomats in tense scenes of imagined inter-arboreal geopolitics.
Let’s just say I had more snacks than friends for a while there.
Since my history with Keebler is long and sentimental, it was a Coconut Dream come true to hear that Kellogg’s was releasing a new Keebler Cereal, even after 2008’s Keebler Cookie Crunch Cereal was discontinued. And I’m Double Stuffed with joy to see that we got the real, two-dimensional Ernie on the packaging, instead of the computer-inept, ironically meme-ing CGI Ernie from Twitter:
Can someone put me in the picture with the Pumpkin Spice Fudge Stripes? I haven't been to the Photo Shop. pic.twitter.com/3slP6LFKxo
— Ernie Keebler (@KeeblerElves) September 12, 2016
With promises of real chocolate chip cookies inside, this cereal is singing my name like an Elf at work. I’m expecting big, doughy things from Keebler Cereal, but if all else fails, I’m sure I can still use the cookie pieces as projectiles for an E.L. Fudge-manned trebuchet. Let’s fire away!
When I first opened my Keebler Cereal bag, I nearly gasped. Had I been coaxed into some sort of cookie snafu? There were no cookie pieces to be seen! This had to be some next-level prankishness: I’m talking “Uh-Oh! Oreo” meets “Oops! All Berries” levels of erroneous trickery.
But then I gazed deeper—past the milk chocolate sea—and saw them: dozens of wee choco-chip cookie domes, lurking like buried treasure beneath the brown brine. I should’ve heeded Cardboard Ernie’s advice to shake the box, and you should, too, if you choose to buy Keebler Cereal.
Let’s talk about those chocolate puffs first. A logical first impression would be, “Oh, these are just jumbo Cocoa Puffs.” But in reality, Keebler Cereal’s soft spheres are more like souped-up Reese’s Puffs—with all the peanut butter pieces carefully removed like nutty gallbladders.
Rather than being corny and glazed with dark cocoa like Sonny’s vice of choice, Keebler Cereal’s chocolate puffs have a densely dusted, sweet and slightly salty cocoa powder coating, along with a base flavor that’s more like a graham wafer. They’re not quite as tasty as miniature chocolate powdered doughnuts,* but they’re close.
*Though these puffs will spew embarrassing chocolate powder all over your nice dress pants, just like a certain debaucherously dusty doughnut. Don’t ask how I know.
I was expecting the “real” cookie pieces to taste—at best—like Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams. But I’ll be darned: Keebler Cereal’s cookies really do taste just like Chips Deluxe or Crunchy Chips Ahoy! cookies. These aren’t your Saturday morning Cookie Crisps: Keebler Cereal cookies have a gritty crunch, buttery bursts of golden brown sugar, and delightful pops of smooth milk chocolate.
The only problem is that you have to eat more than one cookie piece at a time to taste anything—and that’s if you eat them alone. When chewed in tandem with the chocolate puffs, there must be at least a few cookies per spoonful to create the delicious, yet delicate “cookies dunked in chocolate milk” combo that rewards careful cookie rationing. Anything less, and it’ll just taste like flour-tinged chocolate biscuits.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does turn breakfast into a rollercoaster of doughs and “D’oh!”s.
Keebler Cereal is a breakfast treat that practically begs to be eaten with milk. Not because of what a milk dousing does to the chocolate puffs—they taste largely the same. No, it’s the ceremonial “Slurping of the Endmilk” that’s made doubly delicious here. The leftover milk is turned into a rich river by the washed-off, Nesquik-esque cocoa detritus of long-devoured Keebler puffs.
Oh, and did I mention all the chocolate chip cookie pieces that fall to the bottom of the milk? Wait, you’re saying I didn’t mention the heavy nuggets of browned butter that sink like sugary stones and suck up creamy, dairy goodness into their semi-sweet chocolate pores? How silly could I be to not tell you about them, sitting there at the bowl’s deepest depths like doughy doubloons?
Fine, I’ll tell you about them: they’re really, really good.
Of course, this settling of cookie pieces is both Keebler Cereal’s strength and ultimate weakness. Drinking down milk and buttery boulders may be fun, but it makes the first 90% of any Keebler Cereal eating experience unbalanced and unoriginal. And of course, I wish there were more chocolate chip cookie pieces in the cereal to begin with. Heck, my inner child wouldn’t mind munching down an entire box of those neat little niblets.
But I can live without it: my sensible side knows that a purely cookie cereal-based diet would result in an undesirable, Chips Deluxe-sized waistband.
Overall, Keebler Cereal may have some balancing issues, but I think it’s still a welcome addition to the breakfast aisle. I don’t know if its “real cookie” gimmick will secure Keebler Cereal a permanent place on shelves (a Fudge Stripe or E.L. Fudge Cereal, on the other hand…), but I hope it sticks around long enough for me to gradually fill an antique glass vase with pilfered chocolate chip cookie bites.
For decoration, you know?
The Bowl: Keebler Cereal with Real Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
The Breakdown: A precarious balancing act of passable puffs and chipper chocolate chip cookies, Keebler Cereal will disappoint the impatient and reward those who treat it like a trapeze.
The Bottom Line: 8 instruments of medieval baked good warfare out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 130 calories, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein per 3/4 cup serving)
***Huge thanks to our friend Snack Cellar for sending over this box of Keebler Cereal, when all my local grocery stores failed me. Be sure to check out his review, too! If you want even more Keebler Cereal, Junk Banter baked up a fresh review, too!***