Cereal du Jour: Apple Jacks, my go-to cereal of choice and the baseline against which all other cereals will henceforth be judged.
History: Launched by Kellogg's as "Apple O's" in 1965, its name was changed to Apple Jacks in 1971 at the insistence of advertisers who thought the name Apple O's was old-timey and stupid. Kellogg's describes Apple Jacks as "crunchy, sweetened multi-grain cereal with apple and cinnamon," but that's a bunch of crap. Apple Jacks tastes about as much like an apple as a watermelon Jolly Rancher does the fruit whose name it wears. As a weird side note, that bastion of journalistic excellence, Wikipedia, claims that Apple Jacks was invented by one William Thilly, now a professor at MIT. I don't know whether or not this is true, but there is a professor by that name at MIT, teaching courses in biology and epidemiology, so I'm just going to go ahead and believe it because I like thinking that one of the best breakfast cereals ever was invented by some kind of mad scientist who obviously has a secret laboratory buried deep under the fertile Massachusetts soil where he does cereal-based biological warfare experiments for a cabal of evil Kellogg's executives.The Box: Apple Jacks live in the Big Green Box of Love--easy to pick out in the cereal aisle no matter how hung over you are because of its day-glo green coloration and large size. The front of the packaging has always shown, in some form or another, a blow-up view of the product inside, enlarged to show detail and enhance its apparent deliciousness.
Of late, most of the packaging has also included images of the two new Apple Jacks mascots: Bad Apple (an anthropomorphic apple who apparently is quite naughty--for an apple, anyway) and CinnaMon (a Rastafarian cinnamon stick with dreadlocks and a skateboard. And no, I'm not making that up). Bad Apple and CinnaMon are rendered in frighteningly lifelike fashion--so much so that, if you've ingested the proper chemicals, you might want to leave the box locked in your cupboard just so they don't escape and wreak some kind of apple/cinnamon havoc on your kitchen. If said chemicals are not in your bloodstream at breakfast time, the mascots are just annoying and a little weird, and make me wonder just what in the hell they're teaching kids at Advertising School these days.
The Product: Green and Orange cereal rings, studded with chunky shards of pure sugary goodness. No, they do not taste even a little bit like apples. They taste like what crack cocaine would taste like if it were being produced by a major American cereal company and marketed primarily at spastic children. In other words, delicious and vaguely chemical. Thanks, William Thilly!
The rings hold up reasonably well to milk, but give up much of their flavor once they become soggy. This is good and bad. On the one hand, no one likes a bowlful of soggy O's. On the other, the milk that's left after the cereal is gone tastes like drinking a unicorn's tears.
Best Feature: The Apple Jacks dust left in the bottom of the box after the cereal is gone could easily be collected, packaged, and sold on playgrounds across America as a gateway drug by clever coke dealers.
Worst Feature: Seriously? A Rastafarian cinnamon stick? What the fuck were you thinking . . .
Is It Better or Worse Than Apple Jacks?: Obviously, because this is Apple Jacks, it is exactly as good as Apple Jacks. But in following weeks, every cereal will be compared to Apple Jacks on a variety of levels, so this category will make a lot more sense.