Fruity Pebbles, Part 2: Marshmallow Pebbles

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Cereal Philanderer is a weekly feature in which Jason Sheehan talks about cereal more than he probably should.

Cereal du Jour: Marshmallow Pebbles, a cruel joke by the Post cereal development laboratories and quite possibly the worst cereal ever invented.

History: Last week, we sat down and talked a little bit about Fruity Pebbles--the cereal that invented multi-platform brand marketing and eats like shards of shattered sugar, frosted in sugar and sprinkled with a little bit of sugar for luck. That picture up there? That's how Fruity Pebbles are supposed to look--like a little acid flashback in a bowl, a breakfast rave for the preteen set. While Fruity Pebbles are not my favorite cereal in the world (that would be Apple Jacks, natch), they are an occasional indulgence--a special-occasion food, like for when I've got something breakfast-related to celebrate or really, really need to stay up all night on a twitchy sugar high.

But after finishing off last week's Philanderer column, I went to the grocery store and discovered that there's now a new breed of Pebbles on the market--this one packed with marshmallows. And I thought to myself, Fruity Pebbles . . . marshmallows . . . What could possibly go wrong?

The answer is: everything. Marshmallow Pebbles should've come off like a cross between traditional Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms--as though Fred Flintstone and that racist leprechaun got really drunk one night on corn mash, bumped whatever passes for uglies among cartoon characters, and gave birth to some bastard spawn of a cereal product full of trippy, sugary flakes and marbits in the shape of dinosaurs, whiskey bottles, and bondage gear (because you know Fred likes it rough). It should've been a triumph. It should've been awesome.

Instead, it was one of the worst cereals I have ever had.

No, seriously. I've eaten squid congee for breakfast and liked it. I've eaten mueslix and Grape Nuts. During my formative years, back when my parents thought I would derive some benefit from being forced to climb mountains and camp in places without bars or Nintendos, I once made a breakfast of dry oatmeal eaten off the blade of a hunting knife because my folks had forgotten to pack either silverware or a cooking pot, and even that was better than eating Marshmallow Pebbles. Better by a long stretch.

There are so many problems with this cereal I'm not even sure where to begin. With the "flakes" that turn instantly to mush at the mere mention of milk? With the marshmallows that taste of chemical stabilizers and soap? With the disgusting gray color that the milk turns after coming into contact with this vile excuse for a cereal?

No. The absolute worst thing about this stuff is the fact that Post completely turned its back on the time-tested Fruity Pebbles formula and instead made this crap, with some kind of allegedly vanilla-flavored proto-Pebble with all the crunch of a wet Kleenex and a flavor like licking stale cupcake frosting off a boot. The taste of the cereal, sans 'mallows, is actually physically revolting to me, comparable only to chewing a scented candle. And the smell of it is sickly-sweet and awful in a way that just screams poison.

So now take everything I've just described and add marshmallow pieces to it: vaguely sweet, briefly crunchy, unusually shaped chunks of compressed sugar with a terrible aftertaste and which, for reasons I don't understand, actually enhance every bad trait of the cereal itself by making it taste even more cupcakey and chemical-y and wrong. The result? One of the first cereals I have ever run across that made me want to barf when dead sober. I couldn't even force myself to finish one entire bowl, and threw the entire box away as soon as I was sure I wasn't going to hurl my Pebbles all across the kitchen.

The Box: Who gives a fuck about the box when what's inside is so awful?

The Product: A vanilla-and-marshmallow abortion, created in the name of providing a "healthier" version of Pebbles for all the brand-loyal fatties out there. Does Post honestly believe that there was some kind of huge hue and cry for healthy Fruity Pebbles? Those motherfuckers must be even more delusional than I thought.

Best Feature: Could be used as a means of breakfast-related torture by the CIA. Or as a gentle emetic by doctors.

Worst Feature: Everything else.

Is It Better or Worse Than Apple Jacks?: Forget Apple Jacks. This shit is worse than being punched in the stomach and should be avoided at all costs. If you find yourself in some sort of post-apocalyptic scenario where a box of Marshmallow Pebbles is all that stands between you and starvation, you'd be better off eating your own foot.

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