[When my oldest daughter started talking, we transitioned her from Cheerios to Alpha-Bits, and as a side effect wondered if they'd boost her language skills. They just stopped selling Alpha-Bits at our grocery store, so I guess my youngest will have to make do with just the one letter.]
Ah, Cheerios… dullest of all breakfast cereals. There’s a measure of respect in that — you don’t become an institution by pandering to the latest fads like “marshmallows” or “sugar,” or by changing your shape or packaging every six months like some hussy — but the fact remains, Cheerios are boring. Rice Krispies at least crackle and pop (that “snap” stuff is BS), and if nothing else Total and Bran Flakes come in irregular shapes. (Shredded Wheat doesn’t count, no one under 65 has ever eaten any.) Honey Nut Cheerios are essentially the “kids” version of Cheerios, and when that wasn’t enough, they started frosting the sumbitches. But the reinvention bug is hard to shake once it digs into your scalp and lays eggs, and recent years have brought a slew of new Cheerios varieties from General “Bills” Mills. The latest? Dulce de Leche Cheerios and Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter.
You have to think it’d be hard to screw up caramel-flavored Cheerios, and you would be right. Actually, I’m surprised it’s not a more common flavor — offhand I can’t think of any other caramel cereals I’ve ever heard of, though I’m sure there must have been some. Seems like a pretty obvious taste to partner with milk, but I guess that€™s why I€™m not one of those high-powered cereal fat cats. Regardless, it€™s been implemented to good effect here. Wikipedia tells me that “dulce de leche” means “sweet of milk” and is technically caramel-like, but much like a good Romex watch, you won€™t be able to tell the difference. Akin to its honey nut brethren, the taste is distinct but not overwhelming, so you enjoy each spoonful but don€™t feel like you€™re actually eating candy. As you can tell, I€™m a big fan, both for the taste and the probably misplaced belief that this qualifies as “eating healthy.” And not that it really matters, but the O’s come in two different colors: as tan as my parents and sister in the summer, and as white as me in the always.
And in column B we have Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter. If you pay any attention to the news (don’t worry, me neither), you may have heard about all the parents up in arms about this cereal. In brief, lots of young kids these days have nut allergies because we stopped sacrificing virgins to Mr. Peanut last century, and he is a jealous and angry legume. Since the peanut butter variety looks pretty much identical in color to regular Multi Grain Cheerios, there’s a fear that oblivious parents might send some to school for their own kid, a child with allergies could grab some, and BAM! — peanutality. Personally, my kid’s worst experience with peanuts was jamming one up her nose and needing to have it removed by a specialist (to the tune of $900 if we didn’t have insurance, because apparently science has not yet invented the peanut magnet), but I understand the concern. I’m as disdainful of overprotective parents as anyone, but just a whiff of these things sends a wave of peanut butter flooding into your sinuses.
That carries over to the flavor, too — if the dulce de leche variety flirted with a caramel taste, these grab peanut butter, drive it home, and rip off its shirt. Not to say that’s a bad thing, though, depending on your feelings about peanut butter. As I’ve mentioned before, I can take it or leave it if chocolate isn’t part of the equation (mental note: try adding Cocoa Puffs later), but I still thought they were decent; a true peanut butter lover will probably be in heaven. As you’d expect, the longer you let them sit in milk, the more the taste dilutes, with the compensatory fact that you’re setting yourself up for some tasty milk. (That goes double for the dulce de leche variety. Mmmm!)
It’s always nice when you can try two new cereals and come out with two winners, and that’s the case here. As a caramel fan I’ll be sticking with the Dulce de Leche Cheerios going forward, but those who worship at the altar of the great god C’shewlu are welcome to the peanut butter variety. They may never topple Buzz and his honey nut version, but they’re way better than making do with boring ol’ regular Cheerios.
(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 65 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugars, 12 grams of other carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein. Dulce de Leche Cheerios – 100 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 75 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugars, 14 grams of other carbohydrates, and 2 grams of protein.)
Items: Dulce de Leche Cheerios and Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter
Price: $2.39 each
Size: 12 oz (Dulce de Leche)
Size: 11.3 oz (Peanut Butter)
Purchased at: Wegman’s
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Dulce de Leche);
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Peanut Butter)
Pros: Appealing to a new demographic without betraying who you are. Multicolored Cheerios promote diversity. Delicious but not overpowering caramel flavor. Can’t beat a good Romex. Strong peanut butter scent and flavor, if that’s your thing. Both varieties give the leftover milk a great taste. Reasonably healthy breakfast choice.
Cons: Cereals that only teach 1/26th of the alphabet. Peanut butter taste a little strong for my taste. Possibly killing some kids. The continued non-existence of the peanut magnet. Crazy obscure Lovecraft jokes that like 5 people will get. Peanut butter variety would probably be better if combined with Chocolate Cheerios.