I once had a dream in which I was very small and pieces of Froot Loops fit into the palm of my hand as if they were the size of half dollars.
My friends, this dream came true as soon as Hardee's began selling Froot Loops mini-donuts -- brightly-colored replicas of Kellogg's iconic breakfast cereal -- to its breakfast menu, earlier this summer.
Yeah, I know fast food dessert items have a bad reputation for either being 1) an afterthought or 2) an abomination. Damn you, McDonald's lava-filled hot apple pie for scalding my taste buds for much of my childhood, damn you!
However, Hardee's abstract take on a morning favorite was just quirky enough to capture my imagination.
While I was at it, I glanced at the dessert menu of a handful of other national chains to see if things have changed since I was a kid.
POPEYES' MARDI GRAS CHEESECAKE
I must admit I've fallen for the hype surrounding Popeyes Louisiana Chicken's N'awlins-inspired chicken often and happily.
From its blackened ranch sauce dripping seductively from the chain's fragrant and juicy "Bonafide" chicken, I can see how Popeyes became a guilty pleasure of the late Anthony Bourdain.
Having said that, I never ordered dessert from Popeye's. And if truth be told, I actually didn't know they had any before.
So, I was gratified to see that, yes, they did offer a fairly limited number of Southern-fied desserts, which included slices of pecan pie, a lemonade ice box pie, plus something called Mardi Gras Cheesecake.
I was immediately attracted to the colorful sprinkles -- edible confetti, according to Popeyes -- that graced the cheesecake.
The green, yellow and purple specks of sugar poured atop a creamy canvas of cheesecake looked good to me. But, how did it taste?
Well, like a slab of watery cheesecake, that's how. Served chilled in a cardboard container, the cake melted quickly even though it wasn't an unusually warm day.
Despite that, Popeyes Mardi Gras Cheesecake under-performed in the taste category as well. What could've been a Crescent City party turned out to be a big letdown from the Big Easy.
BURGER KING'S TWIX PIE
In the chocolate candy world, there is a certain hierarchy which must be observed.
For instance, Milk Duds must be avoided at all costs while the Chunky bar was invented by some diabolical dentist hoping to scoop up big bucks in adolescent molar repair.
Judged solely on taste, Mars classic Twix probably lists towards the top of everybody's favorite mass-produced candy bar. But does the mix of milk chocolate and caramel translate into pie form?
Well, we went to Burger King to judge for ourselves.
With a dessert menu that included an Oreo Cookie Cheesecake and a Hershey's Sundae Pie, BK was certainly bringing out the big guns.
If truth be told, its Twix pie was sublime, nicely capturing the candy's sweet chocolate as well as the slightly salty caramel component.
HARDEE'S FROOT LOOP MINI-DONUTS
Kellogg's Froot Loop is a prime example of a two-scooper. You'd grab a greedy handful for your breakfast before grabbing another handful that was meant for selfish snacking.
While the color of Fruit Loops was inviting, the aroma was intoxicating.
The slightly artificial scent of fruit and wheat became the perfume of our youth. Hardee's crack staff of food scientists must've realized that Froot Loop fans -- perhaps channeling longtime spokesbird Toucan Sam -- always followed our noses.
Hardee's mini-donuts captured the classic smell but did it capture the taste of Froot Loops?
Here's the weird part of Froot Loops. You'd think that the yellow, green, blue, red and purple coloring would correspond with different types of fruit. They do not since all of the colors have the exact same taste.
So do Hardee's Froot Loop Mini-Donuts. They may be artificial packs of sugar poured into donut form but these li'l dunkers were delish. Think of 'em as being Munchkin-sized bundt cakes that come five to a box.
If you want a decadent way to start your day, go with Hardee's Froot Loop Mini-Donuts.