Of all the eternal questions I often ruminate on, none perplexes me more than that of Apple Jacks’ place in the universe.
Does it, as we insisted in our youthful ignorance of baggy pants and skateboards, taste nothing like an actual apple? Or does the formula of dried apples and apple juice concentrate really harbor in the crisp and sweet taste of fall’s bountiful crop?
I suppose the answer will never truly be arrived at, but thankfully, Kellogg’s latest spinoff of the ever-popular Apple Jacks cereal doesn’t pose such weighty concerns.
Yes, Cinnamon Jacks really does taste like cinnamon, and manages even keeps alive a fine tradition of creepy cereal spokesmen and challenging back-of-the-box games to boot.
Promising a “brown sugar and cinnamon taste,” Cinnamon Jacks consists of “X” or jack shaped red and orange pieces served up by Cinnamon, the Rastafarian bug-eyed mascot first introduced in 2007 as a foil to the creepy Apple-looking guy who adorns boxes of Apple Jacks. Unlike cereals which advertise themselves as good for you and responsible in their stewardship of the environment and all that crap, the back of the box of Cinnamon Jacks doesn’t send me back to sleep in boredom.
That’s not to say it’s filled up by the usual mazes or cartoons. It’s even marginally educational, complete with words games that make me wish I would have picked up the phone and ordered Hooked on Phonics during those days of playing hooky in elementary school.
The cinnamon flavor is the first thing that registers on my taste buds. It quickly migrates its way into the roof of my mouth to somehow permeate into the schnoz cavity, conferring a distinctive if not sophisticated element which manages to traverse its way somewhere between Wrigley’s Cinnamon gum and classic mulling spices.
The jacks are sweet but not cloying, although I don’t really pick up any distinctive brown sugar elements (brown sugar is not listed in the ingredients, either.) Matched up in terms of pure cinnamon sugar addictiveness against everyone’s favorite cinnamon cereal, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cinnamon Jacks would get clobbered worse than ‘88 Broncos in the Super Bowl. Put up against the likes of cinnamon cereal middleweights like Cinnamon Chex, however, it more than holds its own.
There’s something off with the little jack-shaped pieces though, with their crispy bite yielding to a somewhat disassociated flavor that just doesn’t taste intrinsically yummy to my well-trained cereal taste buds. A quick check of the ingredients lists reveals the culprit: The dreaded whole grain yellow corn flour.
Seriously, what makes companies think that corn and cinnamon work? I may not be up with the latest foodie trends, but I still haven’t seen anyone pour cinnamon and brown sugar on their corn on the cob, while the likes of other corn-based cinnamon cereals, like Cinnamon Honey Comb, have fizzled.
Thankfully there’s enough sweetness and cinnamon flavor to carry me through a dry handful without thinking too much of Kix, but I can’t help but think the little chromosome shapes would taste better and have a heartier crunch if the first ingredient was oat or wheat flour.
For whatever reason, that strange corn flour taste disappears once milk is applied, with the jack pieces transferring their cinnamon sugar sweetness to the end milk while still retaining good flavor in their own mushy right. The end-milk is most excellent; not only drinkable on its own, but added to a morning cup of joe as well.
Cinnamon Jacks isn’t as good as Cinnamon Toast Crunch but that’s okay. It tastes much more like cinnamon than Apple Jacks taste like apples, which is good, because it means that I don’t have to add it to my universal questions to ponder list and can instead go back to wondering about things like how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop or if Luke Skywalker has a middle name.
(Nutrition Facts – 28 grams – 110 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, and a buttload/cornucopia/smorgasbord of vitamins and minerals, although no calcium.)
Item: Kellogg’s Cinnamon Jacks
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10.7 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Finger licking cinnamon-sugar coating. Cinnamon flavor is more sophisticated than what you’d expect from a cereal represented by Rastafarian skateboarding cinnamon stick mascot. Drinkable end-milk. Whole grainy goodness. Not having to contemplate whether or not it really tastes like cinnamon.
Cons: Corn flour taste is too assertive and clashes with the sweetness. No actual brown sugar involved. Not very crunchy. No richness. Learning that Luke Skywalker doesn’t have a middle name after all.