You darn kids have it sooo easy!
Way back in the day, my sister and I had to a walk half a mile to the local IGA every so often just to buy ourselves some Chex Mix (uphill, both ways, naturally). Sure, that might not seem too daunting, but you must keep in mind that it was snowing or raining or hailing or sleeting or doing one of the other thousands of things precipitation is capable of doing in the Midwest approximately 89 percent of the time.
Also, in those days, we only had two options: cheddar or regular. That’s right. No barbecue, no honey crunch, no turtle shell, and no jalapeÃ±o cheddar blend. Even hot and spicy didn’t yet exist. Thank the Chex gods those dark days are over!
We always chose regular for the simple fact that the fine folks at Chex Mix lacked a Doritos-level grasp of the concept of sticky flavor powders. Here’s a hint, Chex: moisture is probably involved in the process.
Chex Mix was a specialty snack for us, fit for only one occasion: Saturday night Nickelodeon. SNICK. Do they still have that? I’m struggling to recall the original line-up. Ren & Stimpy and Are You Afraid of the Dark? were involved. That I’m sure of. It seemed like a repository for all the, at best, questionably appropriate Nickelodeon shows – a miasma of violence, fart jokes, rubber nipple salesmen, kitty litter, Canadian imports, and genuine terror. Truly, it was a thing of beauty.
We made a game of not eating during commercial breaks, which sounds boring, but as a seven year old, resisting the savory allure of Chex Mix for even three solid minutes proved challenging, especially when the whole bag was right there and my parents were all the way at the opposite end of the house watching PBS, completely out of supervisory range.
Times change, though. By the time I hit middle school, SNICK seemed to be rotting away into a non-offensive, semi-palatable mush. Clarissa finally explained it all. Amanda Bynes joined the cast of All That. The great northern imports disappeared entirely. Meanwhile, in the junk food world, Chex Mix blossomed into an array of just barely differing flavors. My approach, by and large, was to ignore all of it, rent old Ren & Stimpy tapes at the local video store until I destroyed them, and make my own flippin’ Chex mix. I was impossibly cool and alternative. Every so often, though, Chex would unveil a new variety capable of cracking my shell of teenage indifference, usually with sugary bits or new pretzel shapes.
Some things don’t change. I am still just that stupidly easy to sway. Limited Edition Cocoa Chex Mix manages to target two of my snack weaknesses with the inclusion of Lucky-Charms-like mini-marshmallows and large cinnamon bun pieces where the rye chips once stood. I couldn’t resist grabbing a bag. This particular mix also comes equipped with cocoa powdery corn Chex, vanilla yogurt rice Chex, and, for better or worse, the same old circle- and window-shaped pretzels which seem to exist nowhere outside the Chex universe.
Normally, the great thing about Chex Mix is, well, the mixing. No handful is complete without a metric ton of salty, spicy coating covering every piece, harmoniously joining a range of ultra-processed grains to create something far greater than the sum of their partially hydrogenated parts. This is the point where Cocoa Chex Mix begins to lose steam. Remember the cheesy Chex Mix from before? Well, even given *cough cough* years (sorry there, I seem to be getting choked up by the dryness of this snack), the fine people at Chex still haven’t quite figured out a way around the powder dilemma.
Every square inch of the mix, from the cinnamon buns to the window panes, comes coated in an ultra-fine layer of excess powder which from the cover picture I assume was only meant for the corn Chex. This powder isn’t especially sweet or exceptionally chocolatey. It’s basically just cocoa powder. The haphazard distribution of the stuff leaves the mix looking like something you’d dig out of the back of a couch, a relic of SNICKs past.
The cinnamon buns are tasty. The marshmallows, marshmallowy. But everything is so, so very dry. In theory, the yogurt rice Chex compensate for this. In practice, there are about five yogurt rice Chex pieces distributed throughout the bag, hopelessly lost in a barren wasteland of corn Chex hell-bent on sucking up all moisture and happiness in the world. If you’re lucky enough to scoop up a handful with one of the rare yogurty rice pieces, you’ll be amazed. Once you add those guys in, the mix truly begins to shine. But in all likelihood, particularly if you’re sharing the bag, you’ll never really experience the dazzling effect of the full flavor array. My advice to you in that case is to steal all the cinnamon buns while your Chex eating buddy isn’t looking. Insist that, like the rice Chex, the cinnamon buns were woefully scarce from the beginning.
As a treat for those determined enough to make it all the way to the bottom of the bag (or unobservant enough to open the bag upside-down), the marshmallows mimic the original Chex’s peanuts in their astonishing ability to cluster and sink to the bottom. They might look scant now, but just wait. Or shake the bag.
Actually, no. In order to experience the best this mix has to offer, just go buy a bag of marshmallows and some cocoa powder. Combine. Shake that. Voila! Cocoa for people who hate liquid! You can thank me later. Now get off my lawn. Blasted whipper snappers!
(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)
Other Limited Edition Cocoa Chex Mix reviews:
The Talking Spoon
Item: Limited Edition Cocoa Chex Mix
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Fry’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Cinnamon buns as delicious as they look in the picture. Early SNICK. Marshmallows are of the kids’ cereal ilk. Yogurt rice Chex are a revelation. Ren & Stimpy. Mix does not actually taste like it came from between two couch cushions.
Cons: Powdery dryness akin to licking salt flats in Death Valley. Contains no chocolate morsels, chips, or chunks. Not overtly sweet. Utter lack of rice chex kills the flavor dream. Are You Afraid of the Dark?-induced nightmares. Marshmallows woefully smaller than their Lucky Charms counterparts. Dumping the mix in milk in a desperate bid for moisture makes the pretzels soggy. The last few seasons of All That.