Talk about disappointing.
I waited years for Star Wars: Episode II cereal, and now that it's finally here, it's… this. To call this cereal a letdown would be an understatement. From the light-saber marshmallows that look more like tulips to the lame "adventure game" on the back, General Mills' ill-conceived Star Wars: Episode II cereal gets it all wrong.
Maybe it's my fault. I got myself so psyched in the days leading up to the cereal's release, I couldn't help but be a little disappointed. I shielded myself from spoilers as best I could: I knew it would be corn-based and that there would be, among others, R2-D2-shaped pieces, but not much else. I worked ahead so I could get May 10 off from work, and I was first in line when the IGA opened. I ran giddily to the cereal aisle and proudly—proudly!—bought two boxes, one of each of the two collector's-edition designs.
Trembling with excitement, I ran home and cranked up John Williams' score. I sat down at my kitchen table and gazed at the front of the box, from which the visages of Anakin Skywalker, Senator Amidala, and Count Dooku stared back at me, almost daring me to take a bite. I poured myself a heaping bowl and, with unbearable anticipation, took my first taste of the first new Star Wars-themed cereal in almost 20 years.
Let me backtrack here for a minute. The year is 1983. I am 11 years old, and Kellogg's C-3POs have just hit the market. With my allowance money, I buy my own personal box, because there was no way I was sharing one with the rest of the family. That very first bowl opened my eyes to a thrilling new world of space-fantasy-themed breakfast foods.
What I found inside that box was a wonder to behold. Sublimely delicious oat, wheat, and corn pieces—no marshmallows or raisins or anything. None were necessary, as they would only get in the way of Lucas' vision. This was no "part" of a complete breakfast, but a complete breakfast in and of itself! You took one bite and said, "There's a galaxy-spanning saga of rebellion and romance in my mouth!" On top of that, on the back of the box was a cutout mask of one of six Star Wars characters. That was a fucking cereal.
I finished that box in one day and soon started washing cars to buy more. By the end of the week, I had all six masks and got a good start on the box variations. A buddy of my cousin worked at the IGA, so he got the promotional standee, the lucky bastard.
I'm an adult now, but that magical "Summer Of C-3POs" will always be a cherished memory. I can still recite the commercial from memory: "Twin rings fused together for two crunches in every double O." That was back when George Lucas could do no wrong.
Flash-forward to May 10, 2002. I'm sitting at the kitchen table, staring into a bowl of sweetened corn puffs and marshmallow pieces, and I'm not sure what to tell you. Yes, it's sweet-tasting. We knew it would be sweet-tasting. The puffs are small, uniformly shaped, sugar-glazed corn spheroids. Looks like Kix, tastes like Cap'n Crunch. If I were blindfolded, I doubt I could have told you this was meant to be a Star Wars: Episode II cereal.
And those R2-D2 marshmallow pieces that were so heavily hyped? I can't even begin to convey how little they resemble the droid. Poor R2 looks like a cross between Inky from Pac-Man and a stick of roll-on deodorant. I realize it's not always easy to produce a reasonable facsimile of a person or object when you're reducing them to a tiny morsel of corn starch and gelatin, but it doesn't look like General Mills was even trying.
The Slave I marshmallows are, quite possibly, even worse. Not only is it shaped like some sort of bizarre, melted anvil, but its coloration does not even remotely resemble the blue-gray steel of Jango Fett's trusty ship. Instead, the marshmallow is neon-green with a wild swirl of electric blue. That's just lazy cerealmaking, plain and simple. Did the folks at General Mills even bother to watch any of the Star Wars movies? From the looks of this sugary abomination, it sure doesn't seem so.
Now, I assure you, there is no bigger Star Wars fan than me. But no one can convince me that this cereal isn't just something George Lucas threw together for his kids. That's what it all comes down to in the end. If George Lucas could, I bet he'd go back in time and digitally remaster the "Rebel Rocket" toy premium out of C-3POs because it's too violent for his children. (As if a toy rocket could be too violent for a war-themed cereal.)
I guess that's just how the business is nowadays, all marshmallows and foil boxes. You can't even get a cereal made unless you attach it to a big-ticket summer release, then drop to your knees and lick General Mills' boots.
I don't want to get into a whole drawn-out debate about this. I'm 30 years old and am too busy to spend hours arguing with the fanboys on the General Mills message boards who automatically embrace this as the Second Coming of Cheerios. But I am chagrined, make no mistake. If I had the chance to speak to George Lucas, I would strongly urge him to sit down, eat two big bowls of C-3POs, and remember how he used to do it.
And I'm never trusting Harry Knowles again. He likes every damn cereal.