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Millville Chocolate Puffs Cereal (Aldi)

I like cereal, and I like chocolate, so it would make sense that I also tend to like chocolate cereals. The only one that Aldi carries on a consistent basis that I enjoy is their version of Cocoa Pebbles, which are deliciously chocolatey and oh-so-sweet, but those can get old pretty quickly. When I saw their cocoa puffs as a Special Buy, I excitedly scooped up a box knowing that I had found a new friend.

And sure enough, it looks exactly as I expected coming out, with spherical-shaped balls of cocoa-enhanced corn enticing my taste buds even before the milk entered the bowl. What could possibly go wrong, I thought to myself as my mouth started to water, anticipating that familiarly sweet barrage of chocolatey goodness that I was preparing to cram into my mouth hole.

There is an old adage that nothing is a sure bet, and while the person that first uttered that was probably under the duress of having just lost a large sum of money, emotionally our feelings were similar: I was so sure of what I was about to eat that there was simply no possible way I would be let down. And those assured highs are the ones that give way to the lowest of lows.

The cocoa flavor, which looks to be featured in large quantities based on the brownness of each piece, is curiously absent, as is the expected blast of sweetness. There is some cocoa that hits the rear taste buds, but it’s more of a bitter, darker chocolate than the sweet taste that I was expecting. I’d be fine with this if the packaging suggested a more “adult” cereal, but the poor cartoon squirrel cutely cramming these into his cheeks clearly means this is aimed at children, who will more than likely be put off by the serious lack of chocolate taste.

Another failure beyond that is the texture, or rather the immediate breakdown thereof: It looks and feels like the national brand initially, but once it even touches the slightest bit of milk, seems to immediately absorb it, going from crunchy ball, to soggy mess within a dizzyingly quick amount of time. I’ll admit: when I make a bowl of cereal, half of the bowl is filled with milk (granted, I also eat three or four servings’ worth at once) so the sogginess issue is going to creep into any cereal I eat. And I’ve grown to accept that, especially when there are other kids and other possible delays that won’t always allow me to focus on eating it as fast as I would like. But even when I’m able to eat it all in one sitting, I’ve found that around the five bite mark, all the pieces are overly soft and much less enticing, from a textural standpoint.

To bolster my opinion on the flavor, I had my wife—who has a far more distinguished palate than mine, and who loves bitter, dark chocolates—try a small sampling without any explanation or guidance. Even her nose wrinkled as she asked, “Where’s the chocolate?”, a question that immediately validated my own emptiness. It really feels closer to an evil social experiment, whereas subjects are shown, via pictures, a mouth-watering treat, given a treat that looks just like it, only to discover that the taste has been completely removed. In other words, it’s like eating at Applebee’s.

Overall: 3/10. Aldi cereals (under the Millville moniker) have always been hit-or-miss, something that especially extends to their Special Buy cereals, as this one is. Consider this one a big whiff: the chocolate taste is somehow virtually nonexistent, making each bite basically a tasteless ball of puffed corn. Even the milk, which you can normally count on to turn a dark shade of chocolatey brown by the end of a bowl in similar cereals, basically just turns a slightly brown shade of white. It’s an Eric Andre, when it should be a Hannibal Burress. Then there’s the issue of sogginess, where it seems to get mushy way quicker than other brands. Easily one of the most disappointing cereals Aldi offers.

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