I’ve prattled on before about how, with two small kids and a propensity to stay up late writing dubiously amusing food reviews, I often don’t have a lot of time in the morning. You’ve heard me talk about shoveling down a waffle while simultaneously emptying the dishwasher, and doling out Cheerios to a creature who knows “Daddy,” “purple,” and “shoe,” but not “Oh father, if I do not receive more toasted oat cereal immediately, I shall surely perish.” (We’re working on it.)
So I’m always open to a new breakfast product that promises I can eat it on-the-go without having to actually visit a Dunkin’ Donuts, because then you’re always like, “Do I put a dollar in the tip jar?” They probably make minimum wage, but really: dude grabbed two donuts off a shelf and threw them in a bag. It took four seconds, for that I’m going to tip 53 percent? Then you feel bad and put in the dollar because seriously, you have a steady job at a place where you aren’t forced to wait on impatient, sleep-deprived assholes who are too cheap to tip. Don’t be that guy.
Where were we? Oh, on-the-go foods. As we established, there’s value in something you can eat in the car while someone gleefully belts out “Welcome fame? He’s ignored. Action is his reward!” from the back seat. Nabisco is already in that market with their belVita breakfast biscuits, and now they’ve introduced two new flavors — chocolate and cinnamon brown sugar. The claim seems to be that these are health conscious and will provide “sustained energy,” perhaps meant as a wholesome alternative to those energy drinks everyone seems to love even though we all know they’re just radioactive goat piss. The touted nutritional benefits include containing 19 grams of whole grain per serving. Mostly they just use the word “natural” a lot, as in “chocolate natural flavor with other natural flavor,” which makes me nervous because technically cow patty is natural. And don’t look now, but the calorie count isn’t minuscule and that’s a decent amount of fat. Nothing ridiculous, but eating these instead of cereal won’t have you shedding pounds like it’s your job.
I’m intrigued by the fact that these are breakfast biscuits, which I’ve always considered a decidedly British concept. Our biscuits are light, flaky things slathered in butter, whereas these are hard, thin oval-ish deals that crack and crumble. Advantage: colonists. Still, can’t judge a book by its cover. You have to make certain concessions to the fact that these are supposedly healthy and natural, so if they taste decent while being nutritious and giving me gobs of energy, I’m prepared to call them a success. Also, as noted in our earlier review, they’re made without high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or artificial flavors or sweeteners.
First up is the cinnamon brown sugar biscuits. As mentioned, they don’t look terribly impressive — the most visually interesting thing is two stalk-of-wheat imprints that subtly blend into the biscuit. Texture-wise they’re coarse and unyielding, to the point where I’m tempted to use one to smooth down some spackle in our bathroom. Biting down, it’s solid but not tough to chew. It is, however, pretty plain. “Cinnamon” and “brown sugar” is being a bit generous, in that I’m prepared to believe these were transported in a truck that also sometimes delivers Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It has exactly one hint of cinnamon and no more, and I couldn’t swear in court that there’s any brown sugar in the mix. Beyond that, the biscuit is fairly flavorless. It doesn’t taste foul or anything, there’s just no pizazz. (They’re also dry enough that you’ll want to have a drink handy.) It’s certainly not doing anything to break down stereotypes about health food, that’s for sure.
Well, maybe the chocolate biscuits will be more promising. The appearance is identical to the other variety, obviously aside from color. You can pretty much just go back and read the last paragraph re: texture and consistency, too. However, I’m pleased to report that the taste is a little better, and the smell is vivid and promising. Before you get your hopes up, let’s be clear — it’s all relative. Getting socks for Christmas is still better than getting nothing, and that’s basically what we’re dealing with here. The chocolate breakfast biscuits are useful, and well intentioned, and under the right light they even look somewhat appealing. But they’re still socks.
Of the two, the chocolate biscuits have to be declared the winner. To be sure, it’s a hollow victory, like a fight that’s called after two rounds when one of the boxers remembers his doctor advised against getting repeatedly punched in the face. Again, certain allowances have to be made for the fact that these are ostensibly nutritious and made with natural ingredients, and that’s reflected in the scores. They also fill you up for what it’s worth, and that can mean a lot when you’re dieting. But they aren’t going to be challenging Pop-Tarts, or even cold pizza, for the portable morning food crown anytime soon, and I can’t say I noticed any unusual bursts of energy after eating any of the packages. And unless you’re all about the natural ingredients, you can certainly find tastier options out there for the same calorie count.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 pack/4 biscuits – Chocolate – 230 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 4.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 190 milligrams of potassium, 35 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein. Cinnamon Brown Sugar – 230 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 90 milligrams of potassium, 35 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)
Item: Nabisco belVita Breakfast Biscuits (Chocolate and Cinnamon Brown Sugar)
Purchased Price: $3.89
Size: 8.8 oz/5 packs
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Chocolate)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cinnamon Brown Sugar)
Pros: Go whole grain or go home. Chocolate flavor is decent, though not overwhelming. Relatively filling. Easy to eat in transit. Can be used to sand down rough patches in drywall.
Cons: Deciding whether two donuts merits a tip. The British concept of “biscuits,” even if theirs did come first. No noticeable increase in energy. Not remarkably low in calories or fat. Cinnamon brown sugar is way too subtle. Not knowing if it’s pronounced “bell-vyta” or “bell-veeda.”