Ha, purple corn? Yeah, right.
What’s next? Purple carrots? Purple Doritos? Purple ketchup? That’ll be the day!
Oh, what’s that? You say all four of those things have existed before? Deep down, I knew it all along. After all, I was (and pretty much still am) that weirdo kid who would’ve happily dipped his purple Doritos in purple ketchup had the two existed concurrently.
(Staggering the releases of Heinz EZ Squirt and Doritos Rainbows by a decade and a half must’ve been a deliberate move by the junk food deities made for our protection.)
And it’s because I am such an oddball snack-loving goofball that I’m excited to try Trader Joe’s newest cereal: Organic Purple Maize Flakes. And it’s because I love the color purple so much that it took me until I got home from Trader Joe’s to realize the Hendrixian pun in this product’s name—I spent the entire car ride with visions of Grimace and Oprah all in my brain.
The most important thing first: these Barney flakes are crunchy. Heck, from the tightly bound box that opens with all the flair of a horror movie coffin lid to the hardy plastic bag that splits apart as satisfyingly as holiday wrapping paper, I’m surprised Trader Joe’s Organic Purple Maize Flakes didn’t smell crunchy.
The thick (or as the kids today are saying, “thicc” with an ever-increasing number of c’s) flakes have the supreme chomping power of a Taco Bell Crunchwrap and the smooth curvature of Jeb Bush’s still-infamous guacamole bowl. See what I’m doing with these references? It’s called foreshadowing, and we’ll return to it shortly.
Once you get past the startling crunch, the Purple Maize Flakes’ titular, heartily toasted corn flavor emerges pretty quickly. The flakes are made of a corn and brown rice flour mix, so the bright maize notes are properly tempered by the browned grain’s mellower mash, but you certainly won’t be mistaking these for bran flakes. Wholesomely toasty but pretty lacking in sweetness (not surprising considering its 1 gram of sugar per serving), this toasty corn flavor—yes, it’s so toasty that I used that adjective twice (technically thrice now) in one sentence—devolves into something far less…cereal-y, as it’s chewed.
Reading other reviews should’ve warned me, but Trader Joe’s Purple Maize Flakes are salty. Aggressively salty. They’re salty enough to leave Mr. Peanut waiting behind a pirate at the hypertension clinic, and they’re the reason for my hasty Jeb Bush references. See, the saltiness of each Maize Flake spoonful only gets worse as you chew it, and they eventually start tasting like miniature tortilla chips—cheese-less purple Doritos, if you will.
It seemed like pouring queso on these things would make more sense than milk, but I needed something sweet to balance the unexpected savory flavor of my Purple Maize Flakes, so I enlisted dairy reinforcements regardless. And the addition of creamy milk did indeed balance the saltiness, but it also washed away any memorable toasty flavor this Trader Joe’s cereal had going for it. I was quickly left with a pretty-looking bowl of pretty-flavorless, pretty-milk-infused flakes. At least they stay crunchy for what I would I would extrapolate to be eons.
So my verdict presents a pretty tragic dichotomy: buy Organic Purple Maize Flakes and eat them dry (with or without salsa) if you want to munch a bowl of Honey I Shrunk The Tostitos!, or pour on the milk and add maple syrup, peanut butter, and/or soft-serve ice cream until you slather all memory of sodium chloride away.
Or, of course you could buy a more flavorful and nostalgic purple cereal that just so happens to be haunting a grocery store near you soon.
But hey, at least Organic Purple Maize Flakes look aesthetically pleasing. Maybe I’ll just make a bowl of ’em a permanent balcony fixture.
The Bowl: Trader Joe’s Organic Purple Maize Flakes
The Breakdown: Too salty and savory out of milk, too vapid (but not soggy!) in it, Organic Purple Maize Flakes are better off glued together and mailed to Frito-Lay for recycling into Doritos than eaten as a breakfast.
The Bottom Line: 4 bowls of Jeb Bush’s “Please Clap” Corn Flakes out of 10
[Quick Nutrition Facts: 150 calories, 350 milligrams of sodium(!), 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein per 1 cup serving.]