I really, really hope you like lots of red-on-red images, folks...
When Taco Bell's highly touted breakfast menu went national last year, a lot of publicity was given to the ill-fated Waffle Taco. Sure, it was a pretty gross miscue on par with the Arch Deluxe, but all of that negative word-of-mouth obfuscated what were two undeniable triumphs of the brand roll-out. First, the A.M. Crunchwrap -- as proven by its myriad variations released over the last 365 days -- was a bona-fide fast food success. The other big winner in the re-branding process was a mere $1 item that many big chain breakfast enthusiasts initially overlooked -- the Cinnabon Delights.
Despite bearing more than a passing resemblance to "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" stalwart Meatwad, the Delights were (and are) precisely what the name implies -- a delicious, super-satisfying ball of sugar, enveloping an even more satisfying molten creme center. That they kinda' looked like hush puppies and left brown flecks of cinnamon dust and granulated sugar underneath your cuticles were mere asides -- this stuff was, in every sense of the word, tremendous.
That Taco Bell would eventually release a variation of the Cinnabon Delights isn't surprising in the slightest. What is surprising, however, is who Taco Bell partnered with for that product permutation -- Cap'n freaking Crunch.
Now, I enjoy his limited time only Halloween and Christmas flavored cereals as much as the next guy, but on the whole, I've never really been enthusiastic about the regular Cap'n Crunch cereal. It doesn't taste bad or anything, it just tastes, well, too normal for my liking. When I bite into a breakfast cereal, I want something unique and kooky, like Yummy Mummy or S'mores-flavored Krave. Unfortunately, as hearty as his puffy comestibles may be, he just ain't hitting me with enough of the weird to keep me interested in his volumes upon volumes of product variations.
But these Cap'n Crunch Delights, though? Well, they are something altogether different. Not only do they share more in common with the standard Cinnabon Delights offerings, you'd be hard-pressed to even detect the Cap'n Crunch flavoring in the menu item. Let's take a closer gander at these suckers, why don't we?
Right off the bat, let's get the testicles jokes out of the way. Yes, yes, these things do indeed share an uncanny resemblance to a pair of cherry red cojones -- an aesthetic made even worse since the flakes of cereal really make it look like the products have tufts of hair. For god's sake, the two I ordered even came in the dreaded "semi-colon" formation, which occasionally happens to guys testes' when one of them flips over sideways. Obviously, if you can't get past the mental image of chomping into Hellboy's nutsack, you should probably abandon ship while you still can. (Honest to the Almighty true story time, folks: when I ordered my pair, I referred to them as "Cap'n Crunch's balls," and the cashier almost had a nervous breakdown from laughing so hard.)
After a while, thankfully, these things stop resembling the devil's bollocks and begin to look more like strawberries with orange crap glued on them. Despite the claret hue, the balls ... I mean, 'Delights' ... still have a very profound cinnamon taste and texture, which completely overpowers the bits of cereal. I mean, yeah, you can technically taste the Cap'n Crunch, but only for a second or two before the sweet spiciness starts running around your tongue like a retard on fire. And interestingly enough, the red dye stuff doesn't seem to melt off on your fingers, which makes me want to ask some heavy questions about what kind of additives Taco Bell is adding to these things to maintain such a healthy -- albeit certainly unnatural -- sheen.
Of course, the real highlight of the Delights ain't the Crunch, but the ultra-delicious, super gooey creme core that's probably one of the ten most pleasurable things I've ever placed inside my mouth. Essentially, it tastes the same as the standard Cinnabon Delights ball, but it has a really nice pop that's complemented by by the cereal bits. It's like getting a bit of granola in your vanilla milkshake -- sure, the textures clash a bit, but it's a harmonious clash that creates a gustatory Woodstock on your taste buds. And yes, I know full well the image above looks like what the kids today call a "creampie" -- and no, I am most definitely NOT talking about the beloved dessert offering.
It's kinda' hard to give you a quick wrap-up thought on the new item. I mean, it is pretty much unnecessary, and it tastes so much like the original item that you kind of have to wonder what's the point. That said, it definitely has a cool aesthetic (a crimson red doughnut hole that spits tartar sauce-hued goop at you when you bite into it!) and the exterior mouthfeel, with all that kooky crunchiness going on, does taste quite unlike anything you've probably eaten at a fast food establishment before. When it comes to "cross-branded" novelty foods -- i.e., your Reese's flavored Oreos and what have you -- I tend to straddle the line on whether such is a neat consumer ploy or something really, really stupid and lazy. Essentially a tri-branded product, the new Delights are certainly excessive, but beyond their wacky external appearance, they're actually a pretty damn yummy (and super-affordable) drive-thru impulse purchase.
When the new Cap'n Crunch Delights were first announced, I figured it was nothing more than another smarmy, pseudo-ironic, hipster-baiting marketing move. While I still think that's the case to some extent, the overall product turned out way better than I thought it would. It's yummy, filling and unlike virtually every other fast food breakfast pastry, it doesn't dye your teeth a funky color or leave chunks of sugary dough all over your clothing when you go to town on 'em. Believe it or not, these things aren't just value-priced comestibles targeting the stoner demographics -- somehow, someway, the Almighty Bell was able to take what conceptually sounds like the grossest thing ever and package it into one of the most sickeningly enjoyable guilty pleasure fast food snacks in recent memory.
And, of course, the popularity of the product lends itself to some much more interesting permutations down the line. Halloween is nearing, guys -- how about whipping up some Boo Berry and Count Chocula Delights to go along with these suckers? Or how about Lucky Charms Delights in time for St. Patrick's Day? Hell, for that matter, why not go full on retro-revival and bring back Baron von Redberry or Sir Grapefellow in all-new, cinnamon and sugar-paste form?
You've got yourself a license to print money, here, Bell. Golden opportunities like this one just don't present themselves everyday, y'know...