(Note: The following article was originally written in January 2015 as a writing sample for a job as a junk food reviewer. This means it it is done in that site's format and all that jazz. The review actually went over well enough with the webmaster that it launched me into the second round of submissions where I ended up losing out to other writers. Not willing to let a good post go to waste, I now present it to you fine folks in its entirety. Just in time too, considering the movie this junk is based on rolls out this weekend.)
Several years ago, I set a personal goal of viewing every single Batman movie. Not just theatrical releases, mind you, but all those straight-to-video features, as well. Ultimately I failed to complete the project, but an interesting phenomenon revealed itself during the process: no matter your mood, there's a bat film to suite your needs, whether that be the kooky horror of Batman vs. Dracula or the head-slapping stupidity of The Dark Night Rises. So while it seems the world's greatest detective has his bases covered in the film world, how does he fair in the breakfast nook?
The caped crusader has returned to the cereal aisle for the fourth time in history with a chocolate strawberry flavored entry based on the upcoming Batman v. Superman. Now let's talk about that flavor for a moment. It makes sense from a marketing standpoint. There's a lot of competition in the chocolate cereal arena, so any newcomer needs an angle to get noticed. Yet from a thematic viewpoint, it's totally senseless. It's bad enough to doubt this character's ability to sell licensed foodstuffs, but if you're going to pair him up with fruit, at least have the good sense to pick something grim like blueberries. On the other hand, maybe an unexpected flavor isn't the worst approach. Otherwise we'll likely encounter Aquaman caviar gummies in a few years.
Like many other licensed cereals, Batman Chocolate Strawberry Cereal comes with a rather high price point. For anyone out there with keen shopping sense or a limited budget this is a fairly notable issue. At least one can't deny General Mills' dedication to presentation as the box is both embossed and textured. Anyone who suffers from a strange urge to touch those weird fish scale style costumes should find at least a few minutes' worth of amusement fondling the box art.
The front of the box claims there's no high fructose corn syrup, something of a cheat considering they use regular corn syrup instead. Likewise the notion of zero artificial flavors isn't very believable once you open the package. The strong cocoa scent seems completely legit, but there's an odd underlying berry smell that comes across as horribly fake and overpowering. As someone who enjoys a good shock to the system now and then, I wouldn't call the sensation unpleasant so much as bracing. Those with more sensitive sniffers may not be quite as forgiving.
Once it actually comes time to dig in, I strongly warn against eating dry pieces. Doing so quickly reveals sawdust-textured generic bits used in countless low-grade cereals. All the flavor is housed in a thick powdery coating that activates the very instant it's introduced to milk. The result is similar to any cheap off-brand cocoa drink though the moisture greatly helps to counteract the texture issues.
No one can say for sure how the newest Batman film will turn out, but his latest breakfast offering leaves much to be desired. There are definitely worse cereals on the market, but very few seem this pointless. The ingredients aren't good enough to qualify as healthy, and the flavor isn't tasty enough to compete with similar offerings. I'd paraphrase that whole 'hero we need vs. hero we deserve' speech, but let's face it; nobody understands that spiel anyway.
Item: Batman Chocolate Strawberry Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 11.9 oz.
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Spiffy packaging. Novel choice of flavor. Remembering how good Mask of the Phantasm truly is. Knowing there's a chance Superman's cereal might be decent.
Cons: Resemblance to dog kibble. Lackluster taste. Overpowering stench. That new bat logo kinda looks like a lump of coal.
Nutrition Facts: Serving Size ¾ cup. Servings Per Container about 12. Calories 120. Calories from Fat 25. Total Fat 3g.Saturated Fat 0.5g. Trans Fat 0g. Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5g. Monounsaturated Fat 1g. Cholesterol 0mg. Sodium 120mg. Potassium 90mg. Total Carbohydrate 22g. Dietary Fiber 2g. Sugars 9g. Other Carbohydrate 11g. Protein 2g.