REVIEW: Burger King Donut Holes

BK Doughnut Holes

I’ve developed a few personal rules about breakfast:

Don’t mix orange juice with coffee.

Don’t put grapefruit in the omelette.

Don’t put broccoli in the chocolate ice cream.

If you want a donut, get one.

The last of these, while the seemingly simplest of the bunch, is not always easy. When the craving for a rotund chunk of fried dough strikes, there’s no stopping it, but, in a city where the only fresh-made Krispy Kreme is in an underground cement “garden” and the price of artisan donuts could empty the bank, it’s easy to find yourself stranded in lower Manhattan without a reasonably priced fried dough option in sight…but what’s this?! Burger King offering me instant puffs of fried dough?

Look at that receipt

It proposed such unknown…and yet such happiness. And are we to deny ourselves potential happiness for fear of the unknown? Nay, dear readers! We are not chicken-bellied fools! We boldly go forth and pursue happiness!

Doughnut hole secret identity

It may be a Whopper box, but you can’t fool me!

Pully-aparty donuts

You donuts and your secret identities.

I take a bite and, ahhh, yes, warm donut holes. Or rather, doughy, cube-like shapes. Nothing scary at all. At the same time, nothing too spectacular. On first bite, the dough is warm and a bit chewy, the glaze sticky and sugary. This is a yeast dough, to be sure, somewhat reminiscent of the cross between a grocery store donut and a brioche roll.

However, this joyous experience is time-sensitive. Give these suckers two minutes and the dough takes on taste and texture of a frozen Pillsbury dinner roll that’s been put in the microwave a few seconds. The eating process gets to be a bit of a calisthenic session for the jaw.

The glaze was simple enough, tasting mostly of sugar, sugar, and sugar, a one-note satisfaction to which I’m especially keen on, although I wouldn’t have argued if a little vanilla or cinnamon showed up in there. Both in the warm and cool phases, the glaze remained sticky. I was hoping this sugary patina may dry and crackle along the edges like a Krispy Kreme, but it remained shiny and thin as the wax on a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa at a car show.

Sad piece of dry dough

One of the more frustrating qualities of fast food restaurants is the 10:30 breakfast shutdown. Oh, the days that have passed where my 4:30 p.m. sausage biscuit craving is left unfulfilled! Luckily, BK put these donut holes on their all-day menu, so, if the craving hits, you can trust BK will be there with your yeast rolls and sugar.

But, overall, I don’t think I’m up to buying these again. Maybe it was the weather or the lunch rush, but the dry dough and thin glaze didn’t fill the empty donut pocket in my soul. If you really, really need a glazed fix or enjoy microwaved dough, these are an acceptable stand-in, but I would recommend the grocery store Krispy Kreme first.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 donut holes – 280 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Other Burger King Donut Holes reviews:
Brand Eating
Man Reviews Food
Serious Eats

Item: Burger King Donut Holes
Purchased Price: $1.40
Size: 5 donut holes
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Available any time of day. Sweet glaze. A good idea. Nice portion.
Cons: Dry. Tastes of microwaved dinner roll. Tough to chew. Weak glaze. Grapefruit in an omelette. Low Krispy Kremes population in Manhattan

REVIEW: Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions

Contrary to a review history which leans towards a diet based exclusively around breakfast cereal and fast food, I do not hold anything against the vegetable food group. I count Larry the Cucumber among my favorite recording artists, have been known to munch on frozen peas as if they were beer nuts, and might, according to my grandmother, even transform into a vegetable one day thanks to hours spent watching college sports on TV.

So no, I’m not a veggie-phobe by any means, and I certainly wouldn’t spurn the chance to nosh on a salad that could increase my lifespan.

But here’s the thing: vegetables are complicated. Buying them, cooking them, and even knowing which part to eat are all tricky. Also, if I want to add a totally chic “lean protein” to the salad, I have to wield a knife and totally risk salmonella with my careless Millennial kitchen hygiene habits (not to mention risk chopping off a finger).

Of course, I could go the convenience route, but that can be expensive. Last I checked, Panera had a rockin’-looking Asian chicken salad. But $7.09 plus tax is pricey. I mean seriously. That’s like seven and a half small Wendy’s Frosty desserts forgone. If you really want me to eat my vegetables, then get me something cheap, not complicated, and something which won’t go bad should I, you know, put off the whole veggie eating thing in favor of those Frosty desserts for a few days.

Lean Cuisine meals might not be aesthetically pleasing, but they aren’t complicated. Taking something out of the freezer and heating it up in the microwave oven is, based on numerous test runs, pretty simple. A head of lettuce? Well, aside from exercising restraint and resisting the cereal aisle at the grocery store, that actually seems relatively painless as well.

Also, ‘Asian style’ food isn’t complicated. I’ve never been one to even try to understand what separates Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines, but throw some carrots and broccoli in there, dress it up with something gingery and soy-based, and my white person American taste buds are totally basking in the idea of ethnic food.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions 3 Packets

Lean Cuisine’s new Salad Additions look to engage my yearning for de-complicating veggies by combining the miracle of refrigeration with some good old fashioned step-by-step heating instructions, all the while keeping me well away from knifes.

After keeping the ethos of Asian-style and picking up a head of green leaf lettuce and some spinach at for a combined $2.73 at my local Lotte plaza, I made sure to follow the directions by placing my sesame-ginger vinaigrette in room temperature water to thaw. It didn’t. At least it didn’t within the three and a half minute microwave window the box told me to nuke the vegetables and chicken for, and it still didn’t thaw completely after I stood around and inhaled the smell of bland lettuce for five minutes after that.

This was a most disheartening wait given that the vinaigrette passed from a consistency bordering on root beer float popsicle to that of diarrhea, all the while waiting to be drenched on a hodgepodge of cut up colors that provided little truth in advertising to the juicy pieces of pineapple and grilled chicken breast that the package photo displayed.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions Made

Finally reaching a vinaigrette consistency that might fool you for an actual vinaigrette, I decided to make my salad pretty. Despite an art background which includes numerous preschool awards for staying within the lines, I was unable to make my salad appear exactly as it was on the box. The salad tastes like what you’d expect from a mediocre fast food attempt to make a similar salad.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions Chicken

The chicken doesn’t really taste like chicken, but with ten ingredients to make “cooked white meat chicken,” that might be expected. The chicken strips ranged from gummy to dry and were mostly salty with a bit of that gelatinous gunk you sometimes encounter with canned chicken.

Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions Closeup

The broccoli and edamame would best be described as terribly bland. However, I can accurately report the orange and yellow carrots tasted like absolutely nothing. Compared to absolutely nothing, bland might as well be chocolate cake. I believe, but cannot confirm, I received one or two small slices of pineapple, which tasted canned and were cloying, like the dressing. However, I do appreciate that dressing as well as the crunchy noodles. Together they contributed salt, sweetness, crunch, and a bit of fat, albeit in a very McDonald’s salad kind of way.

Lean Cuisine’s new Asian Chicken Salad Addition is not very complicated, not very Asian, and not very good. But because it’s also not very expensive and not very horrible, it leaves me feeling significantly less guilty about my purchase than an overpriced and not very good salad from say…McDonald’s. It also leaves me less likely to purchase something that will significantly decrease my lifespan, and leaves me with a buttload of leftover lettuce. And you know what they say when life gives you a bunch of lettuce?

Yeah, I don’t really know either. I just hope it doesn’t involve buying more Lean Cuisine Salad Additions.

(Nutrition Facts – 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 gram of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 510 milligrams of sodium, 400 milligrams of potassium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)

Other Lean Cuisine Salad Additions reviews:
Brown Girl Next Door
Texas Type A Mom

Item: Lean Cuisine Asian-Style Chicken Salad Additions
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 7.2 ounces
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: No fuss vegetables. Tasty vinaigrette. Noodle strips. Cheaper than most ‘Asian-style’ fast food salads. Fitting in with the middle aged women at the office lunch table. Forces me to buy lettuce. Turning into a vegetable via too much college sports watching.
Cons: Gives vegetables a bad name. Insipid two-carrot mix. Not very many vegetables. “Grilled” chicken that doesn’t taste much like chicken, and contains nine ingredients which aren’t actually chicken. Vinaigrette looks like frozen Dr Pepper.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cookie Sandwich and Churro

Taco Bell Desserts

Taco Bell (in)famously reconfigures the same few ingredients into “brand new” menu items quite often. If they ever wanted to offer actual new products and services, there are a few obvious candidates.

They could sell single servings of Pepto-Bismol, hand out business cards for good local plumbers, or provide complementary euphemisms for gastrointestinal unrest when the explanation, “I drunkenly ate a Taco Bell Party Pack at 2 a.m.” just won’t do. Investing in a new line of bakery goods wasn’t an obvious choice, but that’s the direction Taco Bell went with their new Cookie Sandwich and Churro.

On the Friday night after Thanksgiving, while you were likely getting ready for your high school reunion or engaging in the cherished annual tradition of contemplating how you could murder that one annoying cousin and make it look like an accident, I decided to venture out to the Taco Bell in my hometown. After downing a couple Doritos Locos Tacos (the fake Brad Pitt ad is really effective marketing), I tried out these new dessert offerings.

Taco Bell Cookie Sandwich 2

At first glance, the cookie sandwich looked almost like a toy, as though three layers of Play-Doh had been hastily pushed through a miniature pie mold. My tactile first impression was also quite negative, since the cookie sandwich was cold, hard, and clearly just removed from a storage fridge.

Taste-wise, the item performed a bit better, but not by much. The cookies were fine – appropriately sweet and chewy, and with a decent number of chocolate chips. After 10 seconds in the microwave, I imagine they could’ve resembled a poor man’s Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie.

Taco Bell Cookie Sandwich 1

The frosting, however, was awful. It was much too sweet, much too rich, and much too much, as the excessive frosting quickly made eating the cookie sandwich a very messy experience.

Taco Bell Churro 1

For my tastes, the churro fared significantly better. It came out as warm as the cookie sandwich was cold, with a noticeable and pleasant scent from the exterior dusting of cinnamon sugar.

Taco Bell Churro 2

The shell was nice and crispy, and provided a great contrast to the soft, moist innards (which was just barely on the good side of the line between moist and mushy). I actually thought this product could’ve used a little more sugar, and I wished there had been a dipping sauce on the side. But for 99 cents, the churro provided solid value.

While I’ve written a mixed review, I do like that the folks at Taco Bell, between these items and the Cantina offerings, are making real strides in adding to their menu, and I definitely enjoyed my churro. Next time you drop in for your Doritos Locos Tacos fix, make sure to pick up a couple churros, too.

And if you happen to be a plumber, maybe consider leaving some business cards there. You never know how else Taco Bell might be trying to improve the business.

(Nutrition Facts – Cookie Sandwich – 390 calories, 160 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 44 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. Churro – 190 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.)

Other Taco Bell Cookie Sandwich reviews:
Grub Grade
Brand Eating
The Smidview

Item: Taco Bell Cookie Sandwich and Churro
Purchased Price: $1.29 (Cookie Sandwich)
Purchased Price: 99 cents (Churro)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Cookie Sandwich)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Churro)
Pros: Cookies were appropriately sweet and chewy with decent number of chocolate chips. Churro was warm and smelled great. Churro’s crispy shell and moist inside contrasted nicely. Taco Bell offering actual new items. SNL Brad Pitt ads. Seeing high school friends over Thanksgiving break. 2 a.m. Taco Bell runs.
Cons: Cookie sandwich was cold and looked toy-like. Frosting was awful. Churro could’ve used more sugar or a dipping sauce. Your annoying cousin. 2 a.m. Taco Bell runs.

REVIEW: Betty Crocker Reese’s Puffs Muffin Mix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Muffin Mix

CerealMuffinMixes

I’ve written before at no brief length about my love of breakfast cereals.

Stand-up comedians seem to articulate my feelings about cereal well — Jerry Seinfeld opining that he loves being able to eat and drink simultaneously with one hand while reading the paper, and Mike Birbiglia admitting that if he buys a box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch at four in the afternoon, that box ain’t making it to eight o’clock the next morning.

Both of those observations apply to me, and ever since I became an adult (no, it’s true, I pay taxes and work and everything), I’ve struggled with limiting cereal to just breakfast time. Honestly, why would you? I guess if you’re on a diet or pinching pennies, maybe, but otherwise it’s the perfect snack.

Apparently General Mills is thinking along the same lines, because they recently released a line of cereal-based muffin mixes through the Betty Crocker brand. No word yet on whether that’s due to an impeding global milk shortage (we have top people looking into it. Top. People.), but the goal is for you and I to be able to enjoy all the benefits of a nice bowl of dry cereal in a far more portable manner. There are three kinds so far: Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Reese’s Puffs, and Cocoa Puffs, of which we’ll be taking a look at the first two.

On a sidenote, I’m a little surprised to find two classic cereals sharing space with a relative newcomer like Reese’s Puffs, but I guess they probably wanted some variety and there aren’t that many peanut butter-based cereals to choose from. (Although there WOULD be if everyone had kept eating E.T. cereal like we all agreed. No, I haven’t gotten over it.)

CerealMuffinMixes2

But let’s start with the aromatic wonder itself. Right, I didn’t mention that yet… yeah, they smell. The Reese’s Puffs batter has an extremely noticeable scent that’s vaguely peanut-ish but mostly chemical-y, not to overload on hyphens. It’s not acrid or reminiscent of a filled diaper or anything, but describing it as “pleasant” would be something more than a stretch. My wife was helping me make them because, even though they’re extremely easy to prepare, I’m not skilled in the culinary arts and we didn’t want them to end up with refrigerator magnets or loose change in them; and in her opinion, the smell was really distracting. To be fair, I’ll offer that the aroma is far less prevalent when they come out of the oven…

…but that’s somewhat cold comfort, because the bad news is that while the scent lessens, the muffin itself is sporting a very artificial taste. There’s a sliiiiiight peanut butter flavor, but it’s pretty mild, which may or may not be true to the actual cereal itself. The muffin was fairly moist, though really that’s ultimately up to you and your stove. Most of the taste you’re going to be getting is a fairly standard chocolate, albeit tinged with that same artificial flavor and aftertaste. It’s okay, but certainly not comparable to some of the better, or even average, chocolate and/or peanut butter muffins you’ve had in your life.

CerealMuffinMixes3

And not that we at TIB advocate judging a book by its cover (despite all being jaw-droppingly attractive people ourselves), but you’ll notice from the picture that the “peanut butter” crumbs sort of melt into each other and congeal, whereas on the box they’re all perfectly separated and look crunchy rather than gooey. Yeah, yeah, no one expects truth in advertising, but they do look a bit less palatable in reality.

CerealMuffinMixes4

Okay, but Cinnamon Toast Crunch will be our savior, right? Wendell and those two other bakers who got blacklisted after admitting their relationship have never let us down. Well, don’t be so hasty — the counterpoint to CTC’s awesomeness is that any kind of spinoff has a lot to live up to. Which was a bigger disappointment, The Godfather Part III or Police Academy 3? Exactly. But it does get off to a better start than the Reese’s Puffs mix just by virtue of the batter not smelling as odd.

Actually making the muffins is just as simple, the work of maybe 10 minutes, tops. Basically all you need is vegetable oil, two eggs, and water. You don’t even need paper baking cups, though my wife used Spider-Man ones anyway because that’s how we roll.

CerealMuffinMixes5

I like the look of them better than the Reese’s Puffs muffins, because the cinnamon sprinkled on the top looks more natural and less, well, blobbish. As for taste? Sigh… well, they’re better, you can say that. But that’s faint praise, because they still aren’t anything to write home about, unless you like disappointing your mother. More than usual, I mean. (She just wants what’s best for you, dear.)

You can taste the cinnamon more so than you could the peanut butter on the other kind, but it still carries that distinctly artificial flavor, somewhat moist but with a lingering aftertaste that isn’t found in nature. It smells better, so there’s that. And like the Reese’s Puffs kind, they’re pretty filling, so you shouldn’t need to eat more than one or two to fill you up for breakfast. But I still can’t recommend them any higher than a general “Eh… I’ve had worse.”

Damning with faint praise, I know, but what are you going to do? Maybe trying to capture the magic of cereal sans milk was always doomed to failure. Or maybe it could have worked with different ingredients. My gut tells me that this is just sort of what you get with instant muffins, but who knows. Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that these particular muffins are subpar. Unless you’re just inadvisably curious, don’t waste your time.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 muffin – Reese’s Puffs – 170 calories, 70 calories from fat, 3 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 85 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugars, 2 grams of protein. Cinnamon Toast Crunch – 170 calories, 70 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 40 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.)

Other Betty Crocker Cereal Muffin Mix reviews:
Baking Bites (Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
Foodette Reviews (Reese’s Puffs)
The Smart Cookie Cook (Cocoa Puffs & Reese’s Puffs)

Item: Betty Crocker Reese’s Puffs Muffin Mix and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Muffin Mix
Purchased Price: $2.59 each
Size: 12.75
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Reese’s Puffs)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
Pros: Super easy to make. Spider-Man baking cups. Cereal, the perfect food. Cinnamon tastes artificial, but not terrible. Police Academy 3, kinda. Not that bad for you, all things considered. More portable than real cereal.
Cons: Not as good as real cereal. Reese’s Puff batter has a weird smell. No more E.T. cereal. Taste is uninspired and artificial. Reese’s Puffs muffins don’t look too appealing. The Godfather Part III. Maybe trying the Cocoa Puffs kind would’ve been better?

REVIEW: Nabisco Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes

Nabisco Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes

Meet the cookie I am sure Guantanamo Bay serves to its residents.

Nabisco’s Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes.

They do have a coconut-ish flavor. They are delightful, if you enjoy getting punched in the stomach. They are not Oreos. They are indeed fudgy, if waxy chocolate is the definition for fudge. They are not creamy or creme-mey. I could leave it at that and you would know all there is to know about these cookies.

I’m not a cookie whore. When I want something sweet, it’s either chewy Starburst (I prefer the Sugus brand if you can find them in Asian markets) or vermouth. However, I do have a soft spot for sandwich cookies. If you place a Nutter Butter or a no-name lemon sandwich cookie in front of me, I’ll gobble them up shamelessly. I’ll even eat the Dolph Lundgren of Oreos, Hydrox.

When I first heard of these “delights,” I was expecting a normal Oreo cookie with coconut flavored cream in the middle, and then dipped in fudge. Like my parents, expectation leads to disappointment.

So what is this thing Nabisco is doing to an Oreo? The cookie is a single Oreo wafer with coconut cream layered on top and then dipped in chocolate “fudge.” It neither resembles nor performs like the beloved sandwich cookie.

It’s as if Outback Steakhouse came out with a new Aussie cheese fries and they were just stupid ‘ol potato chips with bacon bits sprinkled on top with Greek yogurt plopped thoughtlessly. Boooooo!

That’s not Aussie cheese fries and this is no friggin’ Oreo. I want to twist that cookie and selectively deconstruct it with my tongue as I eat each element separately. I want to dunk it in a cold glass of whole milk. I want to pretend that these things are poker chips as I stack them in edible columns. In short, I want an Oreo.

Not even on Earth-Three where the Justice League is villainous, Wonder Woman is even hotter and the Joker is a good guy, would anybody there consider this an Oreo. I was reluctant to write this review because I had to filter my strong dislike to write something coherent.

My first draft went something like this, “I fucking hate these fucking cookies that are not fucking good at fucking all because they fucking suck the fucking dog’s fucking tongue for fucks sake!”

Yeah, I agree with you… it’s a run on sentence.

Nabisco Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes Packaging

Upon opening the cookies, you are slapped in the face with this fake buttery smell. It was a bit off-putting but my father-in-law and wife seemed not to mind. I shrugged and hesitated to eat one because of the strange smell.

The coconut creme was nutty and tasted artificial. Furthermore, the white stuff was similar to paste and a bit chalky. I couldn’t stomach the so-called chocolate fudge because it was very plastic and had an excessive fake buttery flavor. It’s akin to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter with its weird, not quite butter smell and flavor.

Nabisco Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes Closeup

The sole saving grace was the cookie, which was crisp and deep with cocoa flavors.

I was hoping this Oreo would be close to a Mounds candy bar, but the cookie as a whole tasted like an overly-buttery, too-sweet, and nutty mess. I ate a few because I thought maybe the flavors would temper a bit. But nope.

Nabisco also succeeded in creating something with almost every unpleasant texture to mouths everywhere. In fact, if these were soggy, then this depressing cookie would be complete.

I champion Oreos and their foray into assorted flavors, but this specific variety I cannot. My father-in-law devoured them but the poor guy is totally restricted from all things sweet and fatty. Take that for what it’s worth.

I’m all for trying new twists on familiar subjects but more often than not, they fail miserably like the Americanized 1998 Godzilla (who was awesomely killed off in 2004’s Godzilla: Final Wars), but I’m also not for torturing my taste buds. Sorry Nabisco, but we’ll always have the Creamsicle Oreo.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 cookies per serving – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Coconut Delight Oreo Fudge Cremes
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 11.3 ounce package
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: The cookie is crisp and definitely chocolate flavored. Cookie whores. Coconut is nutty. Trying to come up with positive things to say about this Oreo variety. American Godzilla getting vaporized by the Godzilla we all know and love. Oreo taking chances on different flavors.
Cons: Waxy chocolate, pasty creme and fake buttery flavor. Trying to find something positive in something terrible. Being restricted from all things sweet and fatty. Earth-Three Lex Luthor sucks.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s 2012 Team USA Cereal

Kellogg's 2012 Team USA Cereal

Ah breakfast. The most important meal of the day if you ask any medical professional, and the fuel that gives athletes around the world the competitive edge when competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics. Team USA, par usual, has been dominating this year’s London Olympics, with golden boy swimmer Michael Phelps taking center stage once again. And what, praytell, fuels Phelps’ dolphin like speed?

Funny you should ask, because according to a Google search, it’s actually three fried egg sandwiches, three chocolate chip pancakes, a five-egg omelette, three buttered and sugared pieces of French Toast, and a bowl of good old fashioned grits. It’s just step one in a 12,000 calorie day feeding frenzy that would make Great White Sharks feel bloated.

Of course, for someone like me, whose most celebrated athletic accomplishment is breaking an eight minute mile, Kellogg’s has introduced 2012 Team USA cereal.

Don’t be fooled by the multicolored loops. This is no Froot Loops knockoff or Apple Jacks wannabe. No, these are red, blue, and yellowish rings of these here United States and its athletic prowess. Taking a look at the Collector’s Edition box, one can’t help be swept up in a mural of amber waves while imagining the sweet, seductive smell of victory over the Russian women’s gymnastics team.

Maybe that’s how the cereal smells in London, but on my couch watching the Olympics, I’m instead struck by the unmistakable smell of slightly cardboardy and artificial vanilla flavor. Clearly, Team USA had a slow surge off the blocks.

But that’s okay, right? I mean, even the Dream Team fights it out with Lithuania, but eventually Coach K gets Kobe, Durant and the boys to lay the hammer down on the road to Gold. That’s it, I figure. The smell is just the pregame warm-ups. Wait ‘till the hand goes down into the box. Then we’ll get down to business.

Or maybe not.

Kellogg's 2012 Team USA Cereal Bowl

The texture makes about as much of an impact on my taste buds as Nova Scotia makes in the sport of beach volleyball. That’s to say it hardly registers. The dry crunch is virtually nonexistent, while there’s no glazed coating to provide that crisp, Froot Loops-like sweetness. A mediocre and artificial vanilla flavor hovers in the background, but overall, the sweetness seems to lack any pop. I find myself wanting some kind of fat in the ingredient list to crisp up the cereal, and something other than plain old sugar to give the cereal sweetness.

Okay, so we’re clearly falling behind here, but Team USA always rallies. So it’s time to go back for one final try and reach down deep, this time with milk.

Kellogg's 2012 Team USA Cereal Closeup

Ugh. The results aren’t any better. Milk just turns the already light cereal soggy in a hurry, and not in that good soggy way that Life cereal gets. Little, if any, sweetness is transferred to the milk, and while the vanilla flavor is more pronounced, who has ever bought a Froot Loops-looking cereal for Vanilla flavor, anyway? Michael Phelps, in all his calorie laden breakfast glory, would not approve.

If Team USA cereal was competing in the mythical (but currently patent pending) Cereal Olympics, it wouldn’t even qualify in the prelims. Actually, I’m not sure it would even be allowed to compete. Masquerading as Froot Loops in much the same way that the 2004 U.S. Men’s basketball team masqueraded as the Dream Team, Team USA cereal does American breakfast eaters a disservice. With arguably half the calories per box as Michael Phelps’ breakfast, I think it’s safe to say it’s not the breakfast of champions, and won’t be leading me to athletic glory anytime soon.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 110 calories, 5 calories from fat, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein)

Other Kellogg’s 2012 Team USA Cereal reviews:
Time for Cereal

Item: Kellogg’s 2012 Team USA Cereal
Purchased Price: $1.99 (on sale)
Size: 8-ounce box
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Collector’s Edition Box. Fun Olympic athlete trading cards on the back-of-the-box.Only 110 calories and nine grams of sugar per serving. Decent vanilla flavor in milk. Imagining all the crap I could eat if I had Michael Phelps’ calorie needs.
Cons: More disappointing than the 2004 USA Men’s basketball team. Lacks pop in sweetness. Smells like cardboard. No fruit flavor. Lackluster crunch. Leaves skim milk end-milk that tastes too much like Skim Milk