The end of August, AKA "what now apparently is considered the start of Halloween season" took me by surprise this year. I think it is due to the fact that last year, I overestimated my Franken Berry needs, and bought way too many boxes. Since I'd see the extra boxes sitting on my backup cereal shelf all year long, the switch in my mind never flipped to, "Fall better arrive soon, I'm low on Monsters Cereals."
Instead, all of a sudden, BAM, there they are. In the Target near me, it was the first thing to go up in their Halloween section, because Target has its priorities straight. The seasonal section was still 95% back to school stuff, with a lonely end cap of Monsters Cereals.
Despite the fact that Monsters Cereals are good, they've definitely reached an echelon among a lot of us that maybe isn't quite deserved. Are they awesome? Of course. But are they awesome to the level where people should look forward to fall just to eat them, and reference them haphazardly in an attempt to ingratiate themselves to other people? Maybe not. In the case of Boo Berry, definitely not.
Maybe people just love talking about them because it is a cooler signifier of Fall arriving as opposed to just everything being pumpkin flavored.
I won't pretend to know the figures, since my subscription to Cereal Sales Monthly has lapsed, but I've long wondered why the Monsters didn't revive either of their retired fruit cereals. With all the good will the Monsters cereals have accumulated, it seemed that bringing back either of the two fruit cereals would be a winner.
This year, General Mills decided to bring back not one, but both of their fruit cereals. Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy would join the other three. This is the first time these five have ever been on shelves together. Since Yummy Mummy replaced Fruit Brute, they were never around at the same time.
As cool as that is, it seemed like this might be a problem. Fruit Brute was just before my time, and I don't really remember eating Yummy Mummy. But both cereals are "fruit" flavored - were they different fruits? Given that there are already two other fruit flavored cereals in the assortment, was this a generic "froot"-esque flavor, or did the original releases of Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy have different flavors?
Upon seeing the new boxes on shelves, I was immediately disappointed. I love the cereals and all, but I hate the box design they've been using the past few years. They're just... terrible. They're ugly and just have a horrible art design.
Look at this assortment of dreck:
Compare that to the simple, and simply awesome original styles:
I'm not saying the current boxes have to look like they used to, decades ago, but a more natural art progression would have been nice, as opposed to, "overuse one shade to make the box monotone, although that's good because it might drown out how bad the characters look".
Even the box art they were using in 2004 was much better than it is now:
I reviewed the core three Monsters Cereals nearly (jeez) ten years ago here - Monsters Cereal Review. So I won't bore you with a retread of that topic. On to new (well, old) cereals!
The boxes' backs show how the main three monsters meet Fruite Brute and Yummy Mummy. It seems strange to me that monsters would be so scared of hearing a wolf's howl, especially since they have the advantage in numbers, but once they all hang out and have cereal, everything is cool. Just like in real life. Except it seems there's only enough milk for one bowl, which Boo intends on stealing. I told you Boo sucks.
Fruit Brute's box isn't an improvement on the design of the other Monsters Cereals. In fact, it's worse. He looks really stupid. Actually, he looks exactly like Jean Ralphio with longer sideburns.
Thankfully, Target presumably got fed up with the horrible boxes, and decided to do something about it. So at Target, you can get all five of the Monsters Cereals in retro boxes. Are they better?
One major change between the original and the "retro" box is that the flavor of the cereal has gone from "fruit" to "cherry". Now, I don't know if the flavor of Fruit Brute was cherry all along, and was only called fruit, or if they made the new flavor cherry to better distinguish it from Yummy Mummy. I am sorry for my lack of information. Not that I ever really have information, but this time I'm actually sorry about it.
Putting the boxes next to each other just magnifies Wolfman Jean Ralphio's awfulness.
Trying a few pieces of the cereal dry, I was worried, since the flavor reminded me of cough medicine. In fairness, the flavor erred more on the Luden's side of cherry than Robitussin. Thankfully, once in milk, the flavor softened a bit. Cherry is usually very hit or miss for me, mostly because of the aforementioned similarities to cough medicine. But Fruit Brute's cherry-ness wasn't overwhelming, and felt more like "froot with extra cherry" as opposed to "HERE'S SOME CHERRY FLAVOR IN YOUR MOUTH YEAH!!!"
One downside to the Monsters Cereals is I've always thought they did a rather weak job of flavoring the milk. Count Chocula even brags on the back of the box that he "vants to turn the milk chocolatey." Big talk, but it's always a mediocre chocolatization. Same with Franken Berry - no confusion with Strawberry Quik to be had.
Fruit Brute gave the milk a bit of a cherry flavor, but really not much. Although honestly, that's fine with me. I don't really want cherry milk.
Fruit Brute was better than I expected, since the cherry flavor was more muted than I'd feared. But at the same time, two days after having my first bowl, I'm not itching (get it? fleas? sigh...) to have another bowl.
[insert halfhearted (but spooky!) seal of approval here]
Of the two cereals, I was looking forward to Yummy Mummy more. This is solely based on the fact that Yummy Mummy is so much fun to say. Yummy Mummy. It's also kind of fun to type. You get to be in that rhythm of typing "M"s a lot. Yummy Mummy.
Unfortunately, Yummy Mummy is not immune to having a terrible box. Instead of a mummy, he looks more like an undead Fruit by the Foot. We will have to avert our eyes from this monstrosity (not the good kind), and steer over to Retroland.
Ahhhh, much better. And this Yummy Mummy has MONSTER-MALLOWS!
I wasn't particularly excited about an Orange Cream-flavored cereal, either. I think I'd have preferred for them to alternate years that Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy are released, so they could be the same "fruit" flavor, without having to have differing, weaker flavors.
The cereal is basically orange sherbet-flavored. The orange smell is stronger than the taste, thankfully. The flavor is good, but if the orangetasity in the taste was as strong as the smell, it probably would have been much worse.
Yummy Mummy did a better job of flavoring the milk, giving it a very weak Creamsicle flavor. Like Fruit Brute, I enjoyed it, but I'm not exactly clamoring for a second bowl. It's good, I would just rather have much more Count Chocula and Franken Berry before more of either of these two.
[insert halfhearted (but spooky!) seal of approval here]
While I didn't think either of the two new (old) offerings were a home run, both were solid addition to the Monsters lineup. It's nice that a Halloween-timed cereal gets an entire end cap or display in most stores. Halloween displays are always fun, and having a wall of five different Monsters Cereals is a welcome addition this year.
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