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Breakfastime musings about cereal.

Cereal Eats: A Disappointing Sampling Of Special K Varieties

[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

In case anyone has forgotten, I LOVE Special K. Like, love love love it. Yes, I appreciate the fact that it is low-cal, but the whole massive marketing campaign around Special K being a weight-loss helper really doesn't affect my opinion. Truth is, I love the K simply for its texture and flavor.

To review: The pale flakes are light and airy, with lacy, fluted edges tinged with dark brown and bubbles throughout the body. The rice gives them a super light and pleasant crunch, with a distinct toasty taste that lingers on the tongue. In milk they quietly float together like sea anemones, softening in an appealing way, yet leaving just the right amount of crunch. Hopefully, some of you feel the same way.

For a while now, I've been meaning to try some of these new Special K varieties. And now that it's finally happened, I sort of wish it didn't. Look, I've met varieties of cereals that I didn't like before. But this one hit a nerve—it cut me deep! It's my strong love for the pure, unadulterated K that makes this misstep really sting. Let's take a look at what happened.

Before we begin, I will say two things: the first and most important problem with the Special K varieties is that the flake in the cereal is NOT SPECIAL K. It is some wheat-y, nubbly, crackly, overly-and-unpleasantly sweetened imposter. WHY? Why mess with such an awesome thing? And secondly, I will say that these all of these cereals, except for one, vastly improve with the addition of milk.

Special K Vanilla Almond Cereal
This cereal is pretty harmless, as far as a sweetened rice and wheat cereal goes. Unfortunately I don't like sweetened crackly rice and wheat flakes, and I was just left with a slight airiness that made me long for original K. But I can see the appeal for some people. Vanilla and almond flavors are inoffensive.

Special K Chocolately Delight Cereal
I do not understand this cereal at all. While I will say that the chocolate chunks are abundant, I cannot get a grip on why I would want pieces of chocolate floating in milk. The texture is so vastly different than the flakes that my teeth had no idea what to do. While dry, this cereal is actually a pretty nice snack, interspersing sweetened flakes that I guess some people like with benign little nugs of chocolate. But when submerged in milk, this cereal does not obey regular chocolate cereal laws. The milk stays unaffected and the chocolate becomes a mere afterthought.

Special K Fruit and Yogurt Cereal
Too much going on. Just too much. While I appreciate the effort with the "yogurt" coated clusters, there is just too much sweet going on in all the wrong ways in this cereal.

Special K Chocolately Strawberry Cereal
While I love the concept, I have to say I tried four different times to pour a bowl of this cereal that looked remotely like the cover, and failed each and every time. The chocolate chunks stay stubbornly at the bottom and you end up with all strawberries. Not that I'm complaining—as I mentioned a moment ago, those chunks don't do it for me—but if I bought this hoping for that chocolate-strawberry combo, I'd be a bit frustrated.

Special K Red Berries
This one was perhaps my favorite of the bunch. Despite the fact that wet, freeze-dried strawberries kind of freak me out, at least the flavor evokes some kind of strawberries and cream type situation. Milk definitely required. But yes, this is tasty.

All in all, these cereals left me sad. But maybe this is sneakily good marketing, because it left me with a strong desire to go out and buy an extra large box of regular Special K.

Has anyone tried these or the other flavors? Does anyone agree with my thoughts on the flakes?

About the author: Aside from doing an awesome job with her role as Advertising Sales Manager, Leandra Palermo secretly harbors a lifelong passion with all things crunchy and served with icy cold skim milk. This column represents the culmination of that love affair.

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