Long before Chex exploded in popularity thanks to mascotless boxes appealing to the Gluten Free eaters of America, jokes regarding the long litany of cereal variants in a particular brand were limited to Cheerios. Original, Honey Nut, Multigrain, Team, Berry Burst, Frosted, Chocolate…the list went on and on, and flavors came and went, as new, supposedly better and more tasty improvements were developed.
Unbeknownst to Cheerios, a cabal was brewing to take the goodness of whole oats to the insipid base of rice. Like spies prowling the nighttime streets of Los Alamos, raiders from Chex came and stole the secrets to Cheerios’ success, giving way to Chex’s own creation of weapons of unspeakable flavor potential.
It may have begun with Honey Nut and the now defunct Frosted, but it did not end there, and out of this treason within the think-tank of General Mills’ laboratories, a new paradigm of cereal proliferation had begun.
Not one to fall behind the rapidly expanding flavors offered by Cheerios, Mini-Wheats, Cap’n Crunch, Fiber One, Honey Bunches of Oats, and yes, just about every cereal variety ever conceived, Chex has added a new flavor with a familiar profile: Apple Cinnamon.
Not to be confused with regular old Cinnamon Chex, Apple Cinnamon Chex makes the claim to having the distinct and all natural flavor of apples with the warm, sweet taste of cinnamon. Of course, the ingredients also feature allspice and ginger, but I’m guessing they ran out of room on the box to name it “Apple Cinnamon Allspice Ginger Chex.”
Whatever the case, I tasted all the spices in my initial handfuls, and received — for a brief moment — an almost Cinnamon Toast Crunch intensity of flavor. Its short lived, though, and overpowered by an odd tartness of the apple powder. The flavor, as well as the aroma, comes across as too intense. Like those dry bits in a sugar free apple cinnamon oatmeal mix, the powder is concentrated and even off-putting, while the spices make for a slightly unpleasant aftertaste with the rice base.
Speaking of the rice base, Apple Cinnamon Chex unfortunately suffers from what I like to call “Chocolate Chex” syndrome. Meaning, among other things, that the pieces not coated in the flavor base taste like absolutely nothing. And by absolutely nothing, I’m talking as close to uncooked white rice as you can imagine.
Fortunately, like Chocolate Chex, Apple Cinnamon Chex sucks a great deal less when eaten with milk. As the spices disseminate throughout the milk, they yield to a more balanced, less astringent chew that combines the best of slowly cooked oatmeal with none of the mushiness or oppressive heat. Likewise, I hardly notice the insipid bite of the plain pieces, and find myself chugging the end-milk like it was Coke Zero. Dare I say, these ‘warming spices’ even become somewhat refreshing.
As the kind of person who prefers cereal as a snack and enjoys the none-too-complicated fake apple but not-really-apple taste of Apple Jacks, I struggle with Apple Cinnamon Chex. While it’s certainly saved by a shower of ice cold skim milk (or, as Tony Perkins likes to say, ‘success’) it strikes me as reaching too far in its flavor aims, combining a natural tartness and warming spice flavor that’s so natural its positively unnatural in the realm of dry cereal.
A complete waste of espionage resources on the part of Chex? Perhaps not, but until they’re willing to rediscover the secrets of Frosted Cheerios, I’ll be passing on America’s favorite gluten free cereal brand.
(Nutrition Facts — 3/4 cup (31 grams) — 130 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 40 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of total carbohydrates, Less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugars, and 1 grams of protein.)
Item: Apple Cinnamon Chex
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 13.75 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Surprisingly refreshing in milk. Tart green apple taste. Brief seizure by ethereal Cinnamon Toast Crunch flavor. Terrific end-milk. Cereal company espionage. Hope for a return of Frosted Chex.
Cons: Smells artificial. Spices taste too prominent. ‘Chocolate Chex syndrome’. Apple taste is too astringent for snacking purposes. Apple-Cinnamon blend falls to the bottom of the box. No back-of-the-box fun and games.