Update, August 26, 2021: Remember this big bag o’ sugar at the end of the rainbow? Well, General Mills is back to its old tricks: according to a press release sent to The Takeout, Lucky Charms Just Magical Marshmallows return to store shelves this month for a limited time. Hilariously, they’re now being sold in 4-oz. bags rather than last year’s 6-oz. size, perhaps in tacit acknowledgment of the point we make in the taste test below: that a little goes a long, long way when it comes to technicolor cereal marshmallows. At a suggested retail price of $3.99, you might as well pick some up for the novelty factor. Just be sure to share them with at least 50 of your friends, because there will be plenty to go around.
Original post, September 10, 2020: Okay, so we should start out by stating the obvious: this is not a taste test, at least not in the traditional sense. Typically we track down new items on fast food menus or grocery store shelves, and sink our teeth into things that no one outside of initial test markets has had the opportunity to chow down on before. Occasionally, we investigate some new and improved version of an old standby to find out how it stacks up against its predecessor. (Remember the Cosmic Crisp apple?) But Limited Edition Lucky Charms Just Magical Marshmallows is neither a new release nor a new-and-improved variant. It is precisely the product you know as well as the back of your own molars, unmitigated and unchanged. Just Magical Marshmallows is what happens when a producer of breakfast cereal is tired of receiving the same critique of its cereal every day since 1964, throws up its arms, rubs its temples, and decides to give the people what they want.
To clarify, this is not the first time that an all-marshmallows version of Lucky Charms has been allowed to exist: in 2019, customers could enter to win one of 15,000 boxes of marshmallow pieces by typing in an online code found on a regular box. But now, Just Magical Marshmallows are available to the general public on grocery store shelves for a limited time. They’re in 6-oz. Mylar bags this time around, not boxes, and while six ounces sounds like a paltry amount, the bag positively overflows with its bounty, thanks to the signature airiness of each Lucky Charms “marshmallow.”
The question, in this Taste Test, is not “What do Lucky Charms marshmallows taste like?” but rather “How do Lucky Charms marshmallows taste in this heretofore unseen concentration?” and, to a lesser extent, “Are these marshmallows indeed Magical?”
Surprisingly, the answer to the latter question is yes, sort of. The marshmallows exit the bag looking rather dusty and drab, but they quickly come alive in the milk, which transforms their muted hues into bright pinks and blues and yellows. And yes, I did add milk. It seemed only right, though it’s possible that Magical Marshmallow purists would balk at this presentation. The marshmallows are just waiting for their chance to be disintegrated; they stuck to the palm of my hand as I held them out for a quick photo op, and they leave trails of sludgy, technicolor residue along the sides of the bowl after I dig the spoon in. They hold their form only long enough for you to identify them as unicorns or tasty red balloons before breaking down. Indeed, the ideal state of a Magical Marshmallow seems to be one of partial decomposition: softened exterior giving way to stiff, grainy resistance at the core.
That resistance typically stands in contrast to the toasted oat pieces that comprise the majority of a box of classic Lucky Charms. But with no carby crunch to mitigate the piff of marshmallow sugar disintegrating against your molars, every bite feels sort of like taking a shot of tequila—a hyperconcentrated serving of something that’s best served diluted. And like tequila, it is an indulgence you will regret.
There’s no sense in reviewing a bowlful of Lucky Charms marshmallows and declaring it “too sweet.” Flavor balance is not a consideration for a product whose only ingredients are sugar, corn starch, corn syrup, dextrose, gelatin, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, artificial flavor, and Yellow 6. No, it’s more like an “oops! all maraschino cherries!” ice cream sundae: Sure, we all love the cherry on top, but it has to be on top of something.
Making my way through a small ramekin of Lucky Charms marshmallows in milk, I gained newfound appreciation for the marketing execs at General Mills who have kept this product at bay for 56 years. The patience this must have taken! The resoluteness! The integrity! These purveyors of freeze-dried sugar nuggets must have known all along that consumers were requesting this product against their own best interests. But as I stared at the colors bleeding into the milk, my hunger completely unsatiated, I felt like I understood what informed General Mills’ decision to finally unleash Just Magical Marshmallows upon a gleeful public: the fact that sometimes you have to give the people what they want to make them realize it’s not what they want at all.