Milking It: Princess Gems cereal
Disney Magic Selections
Rating: Two and a half spoons out of four
Cereal description: The main cereal pieces are made of oats shaped like puffy stars with a hole in the middle, as if they've been blasted by a Disney super-villain armed with a .44 magnum. In addition, the box includes marshmallows in four different designs: a red flower with a green leafy base, a yellow crown, a purple-staff-and-yellow-blob combo that's probably supposed to suggest a magic wand but more closely resembles a penis with a particularly angry erection, and a fourth item that's blue, brown and pretty much unidentifiable. A beast's footprint? A twisted face? An erupting volcano? Who knows? It's like a sugary Rorschach test for the single-digit set.
Box description: Beneath the Princess Gems logo, printed in pink, naturally enough, the front cover features soft-focus images of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White looking much too demure to shove a dripping spoonful of processed foodstuffs into their yaps. In addition, my box boasts that a "Free Sticker and Trading Card" is inside -- an increasing rarity these days, and a welcome one. The card I got (the fifth in a series of ten) showcases the aforementioned babes plus Belle from Beauty and the Beast on one side and some "Fun Facts" on the other -- and one of the facts actually was fun, despite a rather egregious typographical error. It reads, "Oops-goofs! When the fairies give Auora [read: Aurora] the tiara, it has no jewels. Later, when she awakes, there are three rubies in it." Blew that one, didn't you, Walt? As for the rest of the box, one side panel touts more trading cards available in boxes of Princess Gems and additional cereals in the series -- Honey Nut Nemo O's and Incredible Berry Crunch! -- and its mirror opposite sports the usual nutrition info. The back, for its part, showcases a tedious "Kid's Guide to Healthy Eating" hosted by that corporate suck-up Mickey Mouse and a "Princess Matching Game" that challenges tots to figure out if Jasmine from Aladdin should be connected to a magic lamp or a glass slipper that perfectly matches her outfit. Hmmmm. How about mixing-and-matching instead?
Taste: My fifteen-year-old daughter Ellie recently had a friend stay the night at our house, and when she pulled out the Princess Gems the following morning and received a quizzical look from her pal for doing so, she defended herself by saying, "They're just like Lucky Charms." And oh man, are they. Betcha the Disney Magic developers spent month upon month in their laboratory duplicating the taste and texture of the General Mills staple -- and if so, they certainly achieved their goal. There's absolutely nothing original about the results -- hence the mediocre rating for what's otherwise a very eatable product. Originality counts for something even when it comes to cereal. To use a musical analogy, Lucky Charms is Nirvana, while Princess Gems is the Stone Temple Pilots.
Conclusion: Somewhere there's one pissed-off leprechaun... -- Michael Roberts