Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a decades-long reputation for knowing how to put out a good cereal.
I know there was at least one foreign TMNT cereal, which - oddly enough - looked similar to the cereal we're about to learn about. I know that's a very liberal usage of the word "learn".
But when you talk about TMNT cereal, you're talking about the one and only - the Ralson sweetened Chex with marshmallows cereal. I know nostalgia can make a lot of things seem better, but I vividly remember how it tasted, and how it is one of my favorite cereals ever.
I tried it again a few years back, and I will admit it wasn't as good as I remembered. Granted, this was probably because the box expired about twenty years prior, so I'm willing to cut it some slack.
Stale attempts to recreate the good old days aside, any cereal to come out now that would dare attempt to put the TMNT name on the box has a hell of an uphill battle. The original will likely always be king, so any newcomer better step up their game big time.
I'm not familiar with the newer TMNT, the show where the characters look like cheap Happy Meal toys come to life. I kind of like that aesthetic - it fits the ridiculousness of the Turtles' world - but it's not the look that I "know". But I'm old and willing to concede that they don't care about my opinions anymore, especially because I don't watch the show or buy the toys.
The bragging on the box about no artificial colors or flavors is worrying. I know cereals are starting to shy away from them, and the TMNT cereal is a great example of how this hurts a cereal.
The colors are all sort of sad. All of them except for Leonardo are okay, just subdued and rather blah for a cereal based on Ninja Turtles. And Leonardo's pieces are terrible. The shade of blue is legitimately ugly to look at.
Using no artificial flavors also seems to hurt the cereal. The taste is... fine. It tastes like a fruit cereal, but it tastes like it should be a healthy cereal. One of those cereals on the far end of the cereal aisle, where the boxes always seem to use jungle imagery for some reason.
Finally, as for the cereal pieces themselves, they're pretty well done. You can tell that they're meant to be turtles. However, they look vaguely sinister.
If Giggles cookies, Phanto from Super Mario Bros. 2, and a racist caricature of a sumo wrestler all had a wild night and made kids (I can't explain the biology of that), the kids would look exactly like these cereal pieces.
Overall, the cereal is okay. Not bad, not great. If you're fiending for something TMNT, it should fit the bill. You might not go back for a second box, but you will be able to know for sure that the original TMNT cereal still reigns supreme. Also, the new cereal doesn't come with a free cereal bowl, so there's also that.
[insert very lazy half shrug of a seal of approval here]
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