One week of sugary confections coating my lips led to an unexpected self-realization.
As an experiment, born from the fact that I love cereal and was startled by the fact that cereal-flavored lip balms are a thing that exists, I had to take on the sure-to-be difficult, insurmountable task of wearing cereal-flavored lip balms for one week. I purchased them on Amazon and waited for their arrival. #PrayForMe
When I first opened the Cinnamon Toast Crunch-flavored lip balm, the smell was sublime. It literally smelled like some moment from memory past, deep in my childhood when I’d last opened a box of the cereal in question and took in the sugary breakfast’s aroma*.
*Actually, if we’re being honest I last had a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch three weeks ago at work and it was delicious.
The first thing I noticed about the lip balm was the sugar. You’d think there would be more of a hint of cinnamon, but it felt like I’d coated my lips with sugar. At first the taste was addictive and I kept reapplying the lip balm like a junkie needing hit after hit of artificial sweetener. I was convinced I’d end up in an alley by the end of the day, listening to Sublime’s 1996 self-titled album and snorting Cinnamon Toast Crunch lip balm in between trading blow jobs for cereal.
None of this happened, it mostly made my sparkling water taste sugary all day and produced several demands from my co-worker Candace that I “get that intolerable smell away from [her].” This lip balm business was already ruining friendships.
Day 1: I learned that you should probably let your co-workers know when you’re going to be sugar-bombing the office. Rating — 3/5
Marshmallows don’t have a smell, do they? It’s one of those things where you invent a smell based on how something tastes, kind of like vodka, isn’t it? Either way the smell was more akin to bubble gum than a bowl of Lucky Charms. I put this one on because I play pub trivia every Tuesday evening and while I didn’t really need the luck (my team’s kind of a big deal) — it couldn’t hurt.
Except it hurt so badly. I’m gay and I live in Los Angeles and I can say without hyperbole that this was the worst taste I’ve ever had in my mouth. I used to think the worst Leprechaun-themed taste I’d ever experienced was a Shamrock Shake, but this tasted like an elixir of the Shamrock Shake-flavored vomit that lines the streets outside of McDonald’s on St. Patrick’s Day.
What’s worse is that we did NOT win trivia that night and this bad luck lip balm made my Pilsner taste like syrupy shit. I’d honestly rather watch any of the Leprechaun sequels than have Lucky and his gross lip balm dance near my lips again.
Day 2: I learned that instead of this faux-Irish lip balm, I’d have rather tasted a ginger. Rating — 1/5
First of all, Franken Berry is THE SHIT. If we’re ranking the General Mills Monster Cereals, then “bad bitch contest, Franken Berry in first place.” The elusive cerealteuse Yummy Mummy is a close second, with Boo Berry third, followed by that Malt-O-Meal masquerading as cereal — Count Chocula. I’ve heard good things about Fruit Brute but it was discontinued before I was even born, so I guess I’ll NEVER KNOW. But I’ve digressed.
Franken Berry mostly tasted like cherry Chapstick, but more flavorful. This is a good thing. It didn’t stand out as gross and extra-sugary, but it wasn’t just a bland 99-cents lip balm either. This one quickly ratcheted to the top of my lip balm flavors, which is surprising, because when I kept licking my lips all day it tasted nothing like the actual cereal. It just tasted like a really cool cherry-flavored lip balm.
But you know what they say. The more Franken the berry, the sweeter the juice*.
Day 3: I learned that cherry-flavored lip balm is kind of impossible to fuck up. Rating — 5/5
*No one says that. And that sounded gross, I apologize.
I’m not a big fan of Count Chocula, but he’s a brooding vampire and I was seeing Fifty Shades of Grey that night so it felt apropos. I’m sure chains and whips excite both the Count and Christian Grey equally.
The lip balm tasted as horrible as I imagined. It was like a chocolate Creamsicle someone left in the fridge during winter and on the first warm day of spring you taste and realize that shit’s been in there for six months.
Count Chocula caught a lucky break, however. Fifty Shades was SO bad I needed something to distract me from Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson’s awkward, negative chemistry. So every time a scene made me uncomfortable I applied the lip balm. This ended up happening during every scene, so by the time the seven-hour (I’m rounding up) film was over, it literally left a bad taste in my mouth.
Day 4: I learned that there are things worse than Fifty Shades of Grey. And it’s Count Chocula lip balm. Rating — 1/5
I’m not sure why Creamsicle was the inspiration for all these damn flavors, but the Trix one tasted a lot better than Count Chocula. The fruit flavor was pretty muted compared to Franken Berry, which confused me, because isn’t the Trix rabbit basically a cereal-guzzling psychopath? The flavor did NOT make me go wild and it made me question that rabbit’s sanity.
At one point, I went to get lunch during the day and someone saw me put Trix lip balm on. The look they gave me was Jim Crow South-lite and I was confused as to what was so horrifying about a man putting on Trix lip balm. It’s not as if I was having gay sex in front of him. I started to feel self-conscious, but also, putting on Trix-flavored lip balm is like, a choice so I guess I couldn’t feel discriminated against. Still, it was weird.
When I got back to the office after lunch I realized that the guy who’d glared at me was someone I ignored on Tinder two weeks ago so it actually had nothing to do with the lip balm. Oh well.
Day 5: I learned that it’s weird recognizing people from Tinder and it also probably looks weird rubbing Trix on your lips in public. Rating — 3/5
The final lip balm was Boo Berry, which I saved for Valentine’s Day when I’d be having a Single Ladies (No One’s Put A Ring On It) brunch. I was #blessed that it smelled like Ring Pops and Gushers when I took the cap off, then died and went to heaven when it touched my lips. I never made it to brunch that day. RIP me.
Kidding. Of course I made it to brunch. And my mimosas tasted even sweeter with the added hint of Boo Berry flavoring.
That evening, I capped off the end of my lip balm experiment by going out with some friends to bar hop. During the night, I ran into someone who must have been feeling desperately single and alone on Valentine’s Day because he approached me and started flirting with me. One drink led to another and we ended up kissing. It’s at that point, he pulled away and asked me if I was wearing lipstick. If I hadn’t been blinded by his attractiveness I probably wouldn’t noticed all the dialogue cues that hinted he was one of those “masc only” guys that seems to spring forth from Grindr like Gremlins from a Mogwai.
I didn’t expect to actually have a moral crisis during this challenge. Did I want to tell the guy about the challenge so I could have a messy one-night stand, or did I want to call him out for being a stereotypical, gender role-conforming asshole?
“Yasss, sis. It’s Katy Perry’s new cotton-candy-flavored lipstick,” I said before leaving my brief lover to rejoin my friends.
Day 6: I learned that I possess at least a modicum of self-respect. Rating — 5/5
Final Thoughts: Boo Berry was my favorite, but I’ve always felt a kinship to fellow amorphous blobs. Lucky Charms and Count Chocula are trash so never let them anywhere your lips, lest you want cereal-pes.
Would I wear them again? Ma, like the Ghost Town DJ’s in â€˜96, I’ve got my Boo (Berry) on me right now.