REVIEW: Malt-O-Meal Cookies and Cream Cereal

Malt-O-Meal Cookies and Cream Cereal

In the late 90s, I can remember watching The New Addams Family on Fox Kids on summer afternoons, and there were lots of Oreo O’s commercials with Bessie the cow. Until last summer, it was the only cereal I ever knew of that had a Fourth of July version. But then, as you likely know, the cereal was discontinued in the States, and everyone was sad.

Luckily, Malt-O-Meal has brought it back! Except now it’s called Cookies and Cream.

One of the requirements for reviewing this cereal was that I had to miss Oreo O’s. In full disclosure, I missed Oreo O’s before it went away. After it had been out a few years, they decided to add marshmallows to it. Even as a chubby adolescent who cared nothing about nutrition, I thought that was too much sweetness.

Thankfully, this doesn’t have any marshmallows. When I first tasted a piece dry, it totally seemed familiar, as if I’d just had Oreo O’s last week. In reality it’s been nearly two decades. So, if you miss Oreo O’s, rejoice! This is as close as it’s going to get.

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Pouring milk over them is really the way to eat it, and it tastes just like I remember. It’s one of those cereals where I feel like I could eat bowl after bowl. At the same time, though, there’s something not completely satisfying about it. Maybe it’s because it’s so airy and has giant holes in the middle, so it’s not terribly filling.

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The leftover milk looks like cookies and cream ice cream and has a sweetness to it, but not the same level of chocolatiness you’d get from Cocoa Puffs or Count Chocula.

When I brushed my teeth immediately after eating the cereal, my toothpaste spittle also looked like cookies and cream ice cream. (I was going to include a picture but decided not to. You’re welcome.)

So if you want the Oreo O’s experience again, definitely pick this up. It’s a worthy replacement.

If, however, you’ve never had Oreo O’s, it’s less important for you to try this. It’s a tasty, passable cereal, but don’t expect it to be like other chocolate cereals. It’s basically cookie-flavored Froot Loops. Does it taste like Oreos? I don’t think so, but it is reminiscent of them. And one cup of cereal still has fewer calories than two Oreo cookies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup (30 grams) – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of total carbohydrates, less than one gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.48
Size: 34 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like Oreo O’s. No marshmallows. Leftover milk looks like cookies and cream ice cream. Fewer calories than actual Oreos. 90s nostalgia.
Cons: Not very filling. Rough on the roof of my mouth. More sugar than most name-brand cereals. Doesn’t taste like actual Oreo cookies.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cap’n Crunch’s Blueberry Pancake Crunch Cereal

Limited Edition Cap'n Crunch's Blueberry Pancake Crunch Cereal

I have fond childhood memories of the Cap’n, but like many childhood heroes, he’s faded into irrelevance for the adult me. But, Quaker Oat’s latest innovation, Cap’n Crunch’s Blueberry Pancake Crunch drops the Cap’n right back into my consideration set! I should’ve guessed that this limited edition cereal would be delicious because there was only one left on the shelf. It was a lone box nestled all the way in the back, so I had to contort myself to even reach it.

The age-old debate: do you pour milk or cereal first? If you answered milk, you’re a monster. My vote is always cereal first, so you can taste the cereal in its untainted form. Plus, you have better control of the milk to cereal ratio. Tangent aside – as I poured the cereal out, pretty teal blue and cream corn/oat cereal orbs tumbled out. The pretty teal orbs reminded me of little Saturns; maybe the Cap’n is at the helm of a new spaceship because this cereal is out of this world. Ha – get it? Too much? Fine.

To complement the pretty coloring (yay, blue 1), there was a rich, sweet syrupy smell. No, not like the finest Canadian maple syrup, but more like Aunt Jemima high fructose corn syrup syrup. I say that in the most endearing, nostalgic way possible. I grew up with Aunt Jemima and kid-me loved that syrup. But, we all know, Aunt Jemima doesn’t have anything on Canadian maple syrup. So, if this nostalgia factor doesn’t resonate with you, I could see how this artificial smell would be off-putting.

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I proceeded to try each of the three orbs by themselves. First up was the teal blue one – it didn’t register until the aftertaste that this was supposed to be the blueberry. The initial taste was very much a generic, sugary cereal. I was worried that once these hit milk, it would dye the milk blue and it would be like drinking liquidated Smurfs. Yuck.

The next up was the semi-teal orbs – these looked like an accident, like the teal orbs brushed up on the cream ones and transferred some color. But, the box does show various shades of teal so maybe it’s intentional. It did, though, have a slightly different aftertaste. I imagined this is the equivalent of a blueberry buried in the pancake batter.

The final orb was the cream colored one. I was guessing this was supposed to be the pancake part of it. It just tasted sweet, nothing to write home about.

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Then, I ate them all together. I liked the subtle complexity of the cereal. Don’t get me wrong, the Blueberry Pancake Crunch clearly isn’t some fantastic molecular gastronomy or anything. Heck, if you blindfolded me, I probably would have a 50 percent chance of guessing that it was blueberry pancake-flavored.

If you add milk, it decreases my chances of guessing to about 5 percent. The milk somehow really washes out the flavor instead of enhancing it like I hoped. I was glad that the teal didn’t come off and dye the milk blue, though! But, honestly for a $3 box of sweetened corn and oat, I’m not complaining.

By the way, National Blueberry Pancake Day was on January 28th so pick up a box and have a belated celebration with me!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 15.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Making the cap’n relevant again! No liquidated smurfs (a.k.a blue milk). Pretty teal orbs.
Cons: High Fructose Corn Syrup smell can be off-putting for some. Eating it with milk (which is the whole point of cereal) really washes out the flavors.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Cereal

Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Cereal

One hundred years.

The Girl Scouts of America have been selling cookies since 1917. That’s how long in the making this was.

Now that Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us, our favorite pint-sized peddlers have teamed up with General Mills to stock shelves with a breakfast cereal representative of their famous baked goods. It’s about time.

The famous flavors of Girl Scout Cookies have managed to find their way into everything from ice cream to chocolate bars over the years, and starting now, you can officially have Thin Mints and Samoas in a bowl for breakfast without feeling awful about yourself.

I picked up a box of Thin Mints at Target, opting to pass on the Caramel Crunch (Samoas) variety, because the idea of having a mint flavored cereal intrigued me much more.

They certainly smell the part, which took a second to adjust to. I don’t think I’d ever even heard of a breakfast cereal with mint in it until that moment. I can’t think of one off the top of my head. Either way, the cereal smells just like the cookie.

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As far as aesthetics, they aren’t the best looking cereal. My brother’s dog eats food pellets that look exactly like these little dark discs, so that image was tough to shake at first. For a more palatable example, If Cookie Crisp ever borrowed a marketing ploy from the Cap’n, these would be “Oops, All Chocolate Chips Cookie Crisp.”

The cereal pieces have an outer crispy area encapsulating a center that tasted like it was on a fast track to sogsville the second I poured the milk in. Each bite had a typical crunch but soon turned gluey, and clung to my teeth more than I expected.

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All in all, they taste like less chocolately Cocoa Puffs with a cool little mint kick on the finish. The mint flavor fades as the cereal pieces start to scratch your mouth up, but there was still a constant cooling reminder that you’re eating a mint cereal. That being said, these aren’t exactly Altoids. Don’t forget to brush your teeth after breakfast, ya sickos.

I tried these as a dry snack, too. I had a couple handfuls out of the box, and the chocolate was more pronounced. The pieces are coated in a powdery layer of flavor that must have faded immediately when the milk was poured on. The mint also powers through more on the dry pieces. I guess it was intentional that the extra powder layer was included to improve the milk at the end of the bowl.

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I’ve gone on record about my feelings of cereal milk. I don’t even want it half of the time. Part of me finds it mildly disgusting – a tepid, gross colored pool of cereal backwash – but the other part of me feels guilty pouring half a cup of milk down the drain.

But Thin Mints has some pretty damn good cereal milk. You can’t really go wrong with minty chocolate milk, can ya?

So, this is a decent first effort by General Mills. I still plan to try the Samoas cereal, but expect them to be a less impressive transition to a cereal box. As a lover of Reese’s Puffs, I really hope they tackle Tagalongs next.

These cereals are a limited edition, so act quick. I’m not positive if proceeds benefit the Girl Scouts, but I imagine they do. Either way, I always take some solace knowing I’m contributing to a good cause when I house an entire box of Girl Scout Cookies.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 Cup – 120 calories, 3 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of other carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: They smell like the real thing. Basically a Cocoa Puffs/Cookie Crisp hybrid. Mint in a cereal. Tasty cereal milk. Hopefully a good sign of what’s to come. 100 years of Girl Scout Cookies.
Cons: Sogged up quickly. Mint fades as you go. What the heck are “other carbohydrates?” Little burger looking cereal pieces. No fun games on the back of the box, just some kind of environmental message.

REVIEW: Cinnamon Pebbles Cereal

Cinnamon Pebbles Cereal

Churros existed before I discovered them in 2009, or so I’m told. But that fateful March afternoon in a Barcelona café was a personal turning point. As in – I turn my head any time I hear the word now. “Did someone say churros?” I ask, more a plea than a question.

When Cinnamon Pebbles cereal was announced last month, it was immediately linked with churros. Blog posts breathlessly asked if the breakfast flakes would taste like them. News articles suggested making Cinnamon Pebbles-covered churros.

My churro buds were aching when I ripped open the box of Cinnamon Pebbles. The scent was definitely cinnamon, but not churro-y. It was familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on what it reminded me of.

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I threw a dry handful into my mouth. The size, weight and texture are the same as the classic Pebbles varieties. Then the taste revealed itself. These were not Churro Pebbles. They were the simple cinnamon sugar of my youth.

I instantly flashed back to 8 years old, finding an ancient shaker of Domino’s “Sugar ‘n Cinnamon” in the back of the kitchen cabinet. I started dumping clumps of cinna-sugar (emphasis on the sugar) over my plain Rice Chex cereal. That is precisely the taste of Cinnamon Pebbles.

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The cereal absorbed milk quickly, in typical Pebbles (and most rice cereal) fashion. The flavor stayed pretty true wet or dry, which makes me think it’s really baked in, not just a coating. It did impart some cinnamon-sweetness and a beige tint to the leftover milk, but visually not the party of brown flecks I expected.

While I loved the cinna-sugar/rice cereal combo in 1984, and eating it now was a bit of fun nostalgia, it’s 2017 and tastes have changed. Flavors have gotten more complex, exotic and sometimes silly. Hence, I can’t say that this cereal was exciting or “new.” It needed a hook to make it more modern.

Cinnamon Pebbles might have been greatly improved by adding a dash of red pepper, so I set out to do just that. I spread a layer of the cereal on a cookie sheet, sprinkled a mixture of water, ground cayenne and roasted Saigon cinnamon on top and gave it a quick toast in the oven (250 degrees, 5 minutes or so).

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The results were beyond my expectations. The extra cinnamon knocked down the overwhelming sugar and the red pepper brought a delayed warmth that hit just as I was ready to take the next spoonful. This was a cereal worth buying again.

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I also tried using the Cinnamon Pebbles as a pie crust. Filled with devil’s food instant pudding and a bit of cayenne, it was an easy and decent approximation of churros and chocolate.

Cinnamon Pebbles Cereal 6

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup cereal only – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 11 oz. box
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Yep, they’re Pebbles alright! Pleasant throwback cinna-sugar flavor.
Cons: Too simple for novelty-seekers. Needs something to offset or amp up the cinnamon.

REVIEW: Keebler Cereal

Keebler Cereal

Those crafty Keebler elves!

Not content with just a good portion of the snack aisle (they make Town House crackers, too?!) or hollowing out trees for mass cookie production, they have decided to expand their reach by entering my morning time with the debut of their eponymous cereal. They are so excited by it, actually, it doesn’t need any wildly descriptive title as it is simply just called Keebler Cereal.

Thank goodness the packaging shows the actual product so you know that it is chocolatey cookie based like their Chips Deluxe line rather than Sandies shortbread. PHEW! However, there is a red flag on the top flap noting that I need to “SHAKE IT UP!” as the “Cookies may have settled.” Uh-oh. Upon opening the box it is worse than I imagined as there is nary a cookie in sight even after examining all sides of the inside bag.

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After a good, hearty shake the “real mini chocolate chip cookies” do reveal themselves as promised but the ratio is off. They are present but not predominantly and this is in addition to the fact that they are nearly half the size of the chocolatey puff pieces they are paired with. I wonder what kind of math curriculum the elves have in school because whatever it is it needs to be reevaluated.

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The taste of the cookies is okay with a nice milk chocolate richness that definitely comes through upon chewing, even though they are probably better suited for a snack mix than a breakfast cereal. The other pieces are mediocre, just kind of generic chocolate puffs that are very similar to those in other kid’s cereals. They remind me of the bagged bargain ones you have to buy on the bottom shelf while waddling like a penguin through the aisle as the memorable commercial dictated.

Eating the cereal with milk offers a better experience as you get a nice blast of chocolate every time you stumble upon one of the cookies amongst the puffs. However, I noticed that while eating my way through the bowl there seemed to be even fewer cookies than I had started with.

I did a test by putting one cookie and one puff in milk and stirring vigorously. Upsettingly, the cookie started to dissolve while the puff stayed intact. I was expecting Keebler magic, but not like this!!!

Better luck next time elves.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 130 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.39
Size: 11.2 oz. box
Purchased at: ShopFoodEx.com
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Rich chocolate flavor from real cookies. Keebler venturing into other grocery aisles.
Cons: Questionable elf math skills. Boring chocolate puff pieces that make me think about waddling like a penguin in a grocery store. Unintended cookie disappearing acts.