Shiny Metal Tiger

Experiences in Baltimore, MD

Product review: Cereal, part 1

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Well, it had to happen, didn’t it? Those of you who know me are already aware of my fascination with cereal products, so it should come as no surprise that I’d make the most of my time here in the land of animals with sugar bombs.

I’ve been through a fair few boxes at this point, so I think it’s about time I shared some of the things I’ve learned in a product review. I’ll present all the products I’ve tried while I’ve been here, and give a brief review of each. I’ll assume a basic level of cereology and freely refer to staples like rice crispies and frosted flakes. Even though it’s a bit simplistic, I’m going to be grading them on three points:

Taste: Pretty simple, how yummy is it? Both immediate gratification and aftertaste will factor in here, as well as the flavor conferred to the milk.

Nutrition: How healthy, or rather how unhealthy, is it? How much sugar, and is it sugar or high fructose corn syrup? How much fat, and is it nice and unsaturated or trans fat from hydrogenated oils?  How much fiber, how much protein, how many artificial flavors and colors? BHT added to preserve freshness?  Corn meal or whole grain? You get the idea.

Appeal: This one is a bit more vague, but basically, how much do you crave it? Appearance counts, both of box and cereal, as does texture and associations. Nostalgia too. The complete cereal experience.

Without further ado, let’s get to it!

The rings

Cheerios - Taste: 2/5, Nutrition: 4/5, Appeal: 4/5

General Mills Cheerios: Good old cheerios. To my knowledge the original oat ring cereal, it’s still popular, if a bit plain by today’s standards. You really can’t fault those rings, and if you can get over the bland taste it’s one of the healthiest options out there.

Honey Nut Cheerios - Taste: 4/5, Nutrition: 3/5, Appeal: 4/5

General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios: Now we’re talking! The honey almond flavor really hits the spot, and not just because of the added sweetness. The standard 30% sugar content, but otherwise the same as regular Cheerios. An A-list cereal to be sure.

Banana Nut Cheerios - Taste: 3/5, Nutrition: 3/5, Appeal: 3/5

General Mills Banana Nut Cheerios: Whatever they’ve done to these cheerios (other than adding banana flavor), it doesn’t work. They don’t have the same substantial crispiness, and the ingredient list is starting to look iffier as well. The banana taste isn’t bad, but it’s marred by some undefinable oily aftertaste.

Kashi Honey Toasted Oat - Taste: 3/5, Nutrition: 4/5, Appeal: 2/5

Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal Honey Toasted Oat: It’s kind of Cheerios, kind of Honey Nut Cheerios, but not really either. The basic concept would appear to be sweetened cheerios with no significant compromise in nutrition, but the end result is cheerios that are slightly tastier but with an air of dog food (a point that I will bring up repeatedly when discussing Kashi cereals).  Overall, I’ll irrationally conclude that I’m not impressed: I’m expecting cheerios, and I get something that’s similar but not quite as rewarding. As evidenced by the score indicated in the image caption, they’re not really healthier than regular cheerios, so what’s the point? Overall, my judgement amounts to: why bother?

Apple jacks - Taste: 2/5, Nutrition: 3/5. Appeal: 3/5

Kellogg’s Apple Jacks: Hmm, Cheerios with apple and cinnamon.  A sure-fire combination of tastes, but does it add anything to this species of cereal? Not really, and like the Banana Nut variety we lose the appealing crispiness in favor of an airy crunch. Not worth it in my opinion, especially since the cinnamon apple flavor isn’t as much cinnamon/apple as random artifical/random artificial. Skip this one, unless you have an urge to try everying (like me).

Cracklin' Oat Bran - Taste: 4/5, Nutrition: 3/5, Appeal: 4/5

Kellogg’s Cracklin’ Oat Bran: A pleasant surprise, with several unique characteristics. Most importantly, it tastes great, and not quite like any other kind of cereal I’ve tried; the brown sugar and baked oat bran go very well together, making it a cozy and enjoyable meal. Second, it’s very filling, easily more than any of the other ring-shaped cereals and above average overall. On a related note, the rings are surprisingly large; several times the size of e.g. Cheerios, the merit of which is entirely dependent on individual taste, I reckon. Health-wise it’s pretty average, but my biggest complaint is probably that it costs about 50% more than most cereals.

Oh!s - Taste: 3/5, Nutrition: 2/5, Appeal: 4/5

Quaker Oh!s: Good things in the middle… of some of the Oh!s. Others have nothing, but I guess that’s life. What exactly constitutes these “good things”? As far as I can tell, a mix of rolled oats and puffed rice. I’m not sure they really add anything, but hey, it’s a nice gimmick so I’ll give them an extra point of appeal for that. The box says Honey Graham Oh!s, and while both are present they’re hardly the main ingredients: Sugar, brown sugar and high fructose corn syrup rank above the honey in the list of ingredients, and the graham flour comes in behind corn, rice, oat and wheat. The artificial flavoring and 44% sugar content don’t help either. Overall, it’s a “chem lab” cereal masquerading as something wholesome.

Phew, this post is turning out a lot bigger than I expected. I’m going to call this part done, and do the other categories at a later time. Sorry to anyone who had to endure the various in-progress postings of this entry; I promise I’ll be more professional next time.



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Written by Martin

2010/09/11 at 01:52

Posted in Uncategorized

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