Like bricks, electricity, and duct tape, Chex is a multi-tasker.
It can be used as a breakfast, a snack, a party mix, or, in a pinch, Monopoly board pieces.
Its whole-grain-boosted carbohydrate energy has the capacity to sully forth good ideas, nourish lumberjacks in the woods, or provide the inspiration to bust out the Jock Jams and dance, dance, dance.
It is the chameleon of crunch, the gymnast of the three-ring-circus of cereal. Supposedly, it also makes a fine crust for fried chicken.
Fortunately, the folks at Chex have realized this proximity to perfection and embraced it, releasing a conglomeration of checkerboard-shaped cereals throughout its 76-year-old existence. Their newest iteration? Vanilla.
Frosted and unfrosted: these are the players of the Vanilla Chex game. The unfrosted Chex are of the rice variety, which is welcoming in its simple, one-note taste. The smidgeon of flavor it sustains is that of toasted rice (think Rice Krispies). While they may not hold much in the way of flavor, these unfrosted squares really succeed in crunch.
Their sturdy square shape provides a solid structure that maintains its shape in milk for 10-18 minutes (pending on your tolerance for milk-coated cereal) while the checkerboard holes give a quilted texture to your crunching experience. What’s better is that this unfrosted rice backdrop highlights the bespeckled bits of vanilla-coated Chex, which dot the canvas bowl like pink flamingos on a lawn.
In a world where birthday cakes are slathered with bleach-white frosting and starch-colored dairy dessert qualify as “vanilla”, it is easy to forget that vanilla is a spice and, thus, has the potential to add notes of honey, caramel, pineapple, clove, and, if the planets align just right, hints of bourbon.
Here, the folks at Chex are banking on the honey qualities of vanilla, a taste that provides the rice Chex with a little fructose kick, making it sweet enough for a snack/dessert without becoming too sweet for breakfast. Tasted alone, the frosted bits remind me of the no-cream-involved crème of an Oreo, adding a nice sugary crumble to the rice crunch. Sure, this may not be the vanilla of a Tahitian bean, but it goes splendid with chocolate milk.
Speaking of milk, might I mention how well suited these bits are for the creamy beverage? And not just regular ol’ dairy milk. I’m talking adventuresome milk. The kind of milk that broadens horizons: almond, soy, strawberry-banana-flavored, you name it. The vanilla sugar seeps down into the milk, leaving you with a honeyed, slightly nuttier version of said milk. It’s just enough of a shift in flavor to be noticeable without being aggressive (and really, who wants to eat aggression for breakfast?)
I’ve tried many iterations of gluten-free snacks that have been so dry and tasteless that they have entered my nightmares in the form of anthropomorphic Frankenstein-ian dry cookies. I’m relieved to report that this Vanilla Chex is one gluten-free snack that will not haunt my nightmares. In fact, it’s a pretty tasty spin on the classic without flipping the cereal on its backside. Basic, but not fuddy-duddy. Crunchy, but not mouth-shattering. Inoffensive, but flavory (which is a word, despite what my spell check says). Good show, Chex.
(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 15 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, Less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)
Item: Vanilla Chex Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 13.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy. Crumbly vanilla coating. Vanilla bits reminiscent of Oreo crème. Not fuddy-duddy. Gluten free. Good as snack or breakfast. Broadening milk horizons. Nourished lumberjacks.
Cons: Could use more vanilla bits. Not necessarily revolutionary. “Flavory” is not accepted in my spell check. Memories of grocery store Birthday cake. Frankenstein cookie nightmares.