For a lot of kids who weren’t raised on sugary cereals, the first year away from home can mean a lot of experimentation with diet, combined with a near-total lack of money to budget for things like “food.” And for a lot of us, whether those early experiments took place in a ratty studio apartment, or a federally-subsidized college cafeteria, packaged sugary cereal was the vehicle for our creativity.
It’s a kind of celebration, really. For the first time, you’re away from your parents, without a lot of money to spend, and with nearly limitless opportunities to squander the gift of physical health that your mom and dad were so insistent on forcing on you. So why not Frankenstein together some Honey Bunches of Oats with some Honey Nut Cheerios? Who’s going to notice, if you end the decades-long segregation between Golden Grahams and Cinnamon Toast Crunch? And who’s going to care, if you start speedballing Cap’n Crunch mixed with Fruity Pebbles? You’re an ADULT, maaaaaaaan.
It’s in that spirit, then, that General Mills recently launched a new cereal mashup: Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes. From the website:
“All the magically delicious marshmallows you love. Now with crunchy, lightly-frosted corn flakes! (Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes are not gluten-free.)”
Now, before we get into the tasting notes, there’s another leprechaun in the room that you may have noticed, that needs to be addressed. Though this seems like a cooperative teamup between two major cereal flavors, the cereal experts among you may have noticed something immediately: Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes are made by two completely different companies (General Mills and Kelloggs, respectively). That’s right. The mad scientists at General Mills trolled Kelloggs hard on this one, coated their own corn-based flakes in sugar, and rolled out their own version of Frosted Flakes. They even rendered the logo in the familiar blue-and-white colors more commonly associated with that sneering Tony the Tiger.
According to Serious Eats, Kellogg’s was never able to trademark the term “Frosted Flakes,” because it is too generic a descriptor, and thus can’t be protected by trademark. Fast forward 70 years, and you’ve got one of the major cereal manufacturers straight jacking the leading variety of a competitor, calling it by the same name, adding their signature marshmallows to it, and there’s nothing anyone can do. Gangster.
There’s another piece of good news, in all of this: Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes are one of the best-tasting, most satisfying, most sugar rush-inducing cereals I’ve tried in years.
I was already a fan of the standard-issue Lucky Charms, but like most of us, the “charm” lay more in the chalky, crunchy-on-the-outside pastel-colored marshmallows (technically called “marbits, Poindexter), than the little sweetened puffs of corn. The combination in the traditional version of the cereal can prove to be too much; too much corn, too many rugged little nuggets, too much extruded corn swelling up in your mouth. As often as I wanted to eat regular Lucky Charms, the prospect sometimes seemed too intense, too overwhelming.
In Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes, though, this 55-year-old problem has been solved. Those dense little puffs have been replaced by lighter-than-air, shatteringly crisp, sugary corn flakes, which stay light and airy, before ultimately becoming a satisfying milk-soaked mash that’s the perfect contrast for the chalky, too-sweet marshmallow bits.
Overall, while Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes may not be any more inventive than something college freshmen were already stuffing into their unsupervised gobs every single day, it’s a spinoff that works. All of the flavors of a regular bowl of Lucky Charms are present and accounted for, but with different textures that put a fresh spin on the classic “dried out marshmallow and sugary corn” combination we all know and love. Lucky Charms Frosted Flakes may not break new ground in terms of creativity, but they feel like a revision of a classic that we didn’t realize we needed so badly.