Still Krispie after all these years Secret ingredient for crispy rice treats might just be nostalgia

June 02, 1993|By Teresa Gubbins | Teresa Gubbins,The Dallas Morning News

Rice Krispie Treats are back.

Bars based on the crispy rice and marshmallow formula have been spotted at convenience stores and health-food stores. You can buy plastic molds for the treats, and one company publishes a crispy treat newsletter.

And for those who have trouble boiling water, Kellogg's, maker of the original Rice Krispies, introduced Rice Krispies Treats cereal in March. It consists of small clusters of Rice Krispies with a marshmallow coating.

Although it doesn't have quite the same sticky consistency, the cereal duplicates the taste of the '50s dessert that still sends baby boomers into dewy-eyed recollections.

"I can remember it like it was yesterday," says Darrell Day, a writer at the corporate offices of I Can't Believe It's Yogurt.

Mr. Day and his younger brother would go out to play, armed with Rice Krispie squares for fortification.

"I remember the way your teeth felt as you smooshed into them," he says. "And they stuck to your teeth so you kept tasting them for hours afterward.

"The squares were better than Jell-O because you could put them in your pocket, take them with you," he says. "They made for a handy projectile, as well."

Kellogg's obviously struck a chord with the new cereal: It sold out consistently when it first appeared.

"It's something everyone remembers," says Kellogg's spokeswoman Kristin Pawlak.

Jane Stern, who with her husband, Michael, chronicles American food, called Rice Krispie Treats part of "the whole 'Leave It to Beaver' aesthetic.

"The squares became the classic teen party food, consumed at the rec room party, made by the nice suburban mom, the classic mother of the Midwest, which is the heart of the Rice Krispie belt. It represents a corny Americana.

"I think what's happened is that the concept of Mom and her homecooking has ceased to exist, but people still want those things; they just don't want to do it themselves," she says. "So the company does Mom's job for her."

Initial demand for the new cereal was so high that Kellogg's took out full-page newspaper advertisements pledging to increase production. The cereal is now available in most markets.

Kellogg's isn't the only company with an eye on crispy treats. Health-food fans can buy treats made with brown rice and "health food" ingredients such as honey and sea salt. Flavors include almond, cashew, peanut butter and carob. Look for them in health food stores.

Mouldings, a Utah firm, makes plastic molds used to make crisp cereal treats in a variety of shapes, from animals to candy canes. Mouldings also publishes The Crispie Quarterly, a newsletter with recipes and suggestions.

Nostalgia fuels the return of the Treats, but their appeal as a

snack food, akin to Cap'n Crunch, helps their popularity.

"This is something people eat any time of the day," says Kellogg's Ms. Pawlak.

Rice Krispie Treats

Makes 24 squares

1/4 cup margarine

1 (10-ounce) package (about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows

6 cups crispy rice cereal

Melt margarine in saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Add cereal; stir until well coated. Using a buttered spatula, press mixture into buttered 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Cut into 2-by-2-inch squares when cool.

MICROWAVE INSTRUCTIONS: Microwave margarine and marshmallows on high (100 percent power) in large glass mixing bowl for 2 minutes. Stir to combine. Microwave on

high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes longer. Stir until smooth. Add cereal; stir until well coated. Press into pan as directed.

Per serving: calories: 81; fat: 2 grams; no cholesterol; sodium:

117 milligrams; percent calories from fat: 21.

Chocolate and dried cherry crispy rice treats

1/4 cup margarine

1 (10-ounce) package (about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows

2 cups chocolate chips

6 cups crispy rice cereal

L 1 (3-ounce) package dried, pitted Bing cherries, cut in half

1/2 cup coconut

Melt margarine in saucepan over low heat. Add marshmallows and chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from heat.

Add cereal, dried cherries and coconut. Stir until well coated. Using a buttered spatula, press mixture into buttered 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Cut into 2-by-2-inch squares when cool. Makes 24 squares.

Per serving: calories: 195; fat: 8 grams; no cholesterol; sodium: 165 milligrams; percent calories from fat: 35.

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