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Learning to Cope Without Circus Animals

Whoa—what are those abominations on the right?  Yikes!
Nigel Jones | The Naked Loon↑ click to enlarge ↑Whoa—what are those abominations on the right? Yikes!

It has been three full weeks since the untimely demise of Mother’s Cookies dealt a crushing blow to humanity. While it may be too early for some who are still suffering through denial, anger, bargaining, or depression, The Naked Loon humbly presents the following review of Circus Animal alternatives to help the wounded nation move on.

Naked Loon staff members scoured local grocers for alternatives to the cherished Circus Animal cookies and were able to find two—one produced by Keebler and one by Franz.


Keebler Animals Cookies Frosted

Top: Mother's Circus Animals | Bottom: Keebler Animals Cookies Frosted
Nigel Jones | The Naked LoonTop: Mother’s Circus Animals
Bottom: Keebler Animals Cookies Frosted

Keebler gets off to a pretty lousy start with a mouthful of a name. Seriously, “Animals Cookies Frosted”? That’s the best they could come up with? Yikes. Unfortunately, it’s downhill from there.

Color: Washed-out pink, and I don’t know how it’s possible, but even the white cookies look washed out. Apparently food coloring is a difficult science to master. Grade: D

Sprinkles: These poor “animals” are practically naked. You can count the sprinkles on some of the cookies on one hand. Seriously. It’s not as if you can spot little craters where the sprinkles just fell off, either. To call Keebler’s treatment of sprinkles negligent would be to gravely understate the matter. Grade: D

Shapes: The package appears to show an elephant, a sheep (?) and what I think might be a buffalo. The only animal the cookies themselves really resemble is an amoeba. Calling these formless blobs “animals” is an insult to the English language. Grade: F

Taste: The frosting has a weird almost slimy texture—am I eating an animal cookie here or licking algae off the inside of a neglected aquarium? It’s hard to tell with your eyes closed. The cookie portion itself is somewhat on the mushy side, and while the overall taste is “similar” to Mother’s Circus Animals in the most general sense of the word, I’d rather just stick with fond memories than insult my taste buds with this lousy mockery of a childhood favorite. Grade: C

Verdict: Giving these to your annoying neighbors would be a great passive-aggressive way of sending a clear “I don’t like you” message. Overall Grade: D


Top: Mother's Circus Animals | Bottom: Franz Frosted Animals
Nigel Jones | The Naked LoonTop: Mother’s Circus Animals
Bottom: Franz Frosted Animals

Franz Frosted Animals

Now we’re getting somewhere. A nice simple name, recognizable shapes like the lion and the camel, and bonus points for throwing a monkey in there. Also note that the “zero grams trans fat” claim holds a prominent place on the packaging, much like Mother’s. Nice touch.

Color: Very similar to authentic Mother’s Circus Animals. Perhaps just ever so slightly oversaturated, but overall a very nice attempt to match the original. Grade: A-

Sprinkles: On average the Franz cookies sported as much or slightly more sprinkles than the Mother’s Circus Animals we pulled out of the package. Sprinkles were nicely distributed across the cookie, and seemed to hold nicely to the frosting. Grade: A

Shapes: While the shapes are not exactly the same as Mother’s Circus Animals, the folks at Franz have clearly made a strong effort to develop very close matches. Quality control on the shapes seems to be top notch. Grade: A

Taste: We were able to tell the difference between authentic Circus Animals and Franz Frosted Animals in a blind taste test, but the difference was very small. The frosting was appropriately solid and the cookie has the right amount of crunch. One of our testers reported a barely noticeable aftertaste. Grade: B+

Verdict: If we can’t have the real thing, Franz Frosted Animals are the next best option. Overall Grade: A-

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7 Comments on “Learning to Cope Without Circus Animals”

  1. I continue to be impressed by the ever-increasing breadth of subjects covered (with sprinkles, mmmmmm) by Naked Loon reporters, and this story doesn’t fail to satisfy (although I’m really hungry now, dadgummit).

    I look forward to the upcoming article on PNW etiquette regarding socks & sandals.

  2. The stock market will shoot up when investors realize that a reasonable replacement to Mother’s circus animal cookies is available.

  3. A great piece of investigative reporting – King 5 Investigators could learn a thing or two from you.

  4. I saw “fall colors” frosted animals at the store this weekend. I think it was at QFC. I didn’t catch the brand. Have to check up on that.

  5. I was soooo sad to hear about Mother’s demise. These cookies have been my secret guilty pleasure for years…since childhood and that was a looonnggg time ago. A wonderful friend got me a last bag, but once the kids saw them…well I had to share. Thanks for doing the research, but there’s nothing like the real deal.

  6. I come bearing good news! Kellogg’s bought the recipes from Mother’s cookies. Circus Animal Cookies are back!!

    http://investor.kelloggs.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=352232

  7. [...] is not lost, however. The Naked Loon did some emergency grocery shopping and located two alternatives to Circus Animals: Keebler Frosted Animal Cookies and Franz Frosted Animals. The former weren’t any good, but [...]

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