REVIEW: Cap’n Crunch’s Caramel Popcorn Crunch Cereal

Cap’n Crunch’s Caramel Popcorn Crunch Cereal

Despite its popularity in everything from Chips Ahoy cookies to Hostess Cupcakes, caramel remains something of a third rail flavor when it comes to this unbalanced side of a complete breakfast.

We’re all fine with it mixed into our frappes and covering an ooey-gooey sticky bun, but we’re only moderately interested should it show up in our cereal bowls. Sales history speaks for itself; Kellogg’s Caramel Nut Crunch and Crunchy Nut Caramel Nut were both short-lived, while Dulce de Leche Cheerios is as elusive on supermarket shelves as Barry Sanders was in the open field of the Pontiac Silverdome.

There’s really only one conclusion to support this: cereal companies have been thinking of caramel all wrong.

Instead of trying to pair caramel with chocolate, apples, or nut flavors like past cereals, Cap’n Crunch’s Caramel Popcorn Crunch looks to the snack aisle for inspiration and gets caramel right.

Popcorn for breakfast?

Actually it’s less crazy than it sounds, and certainly on more solid footing than rainbow sherbet-flavored Fruity Pebbles. Aside from the fact most sugary cereals are made from corn, there’s actually some precedence for eating actual popcorn at the breakfast table. Even though old-timey Americans who would eventually found cereal empires ate popcorn with milk to jumpstart their day, I’d recommend keeping this latest flavor solely in the realm of a dry snack.

Oh sure it’s not bad in milk—actually the end-milk has a delicious dulce de leche sort of flavor—but the light and airy spheres don’t hold their texture as well as other Cap’n Crunch flavors. Also, the salty-sweet flavor and the molasses backnotes are, literally, drowned out.

Cap’n Crunch’s Caramel Popcorn Crunch Cereal 2

Those flavors are much more prevalent when eaten dry, where an intriguing salty-sweet flavor comes together in a flavor rarely encountered in cereal form. There’s the usual brown sugar and coconut oil aftertaste of Cap’n Crunch, but an extra burnt sugar sweetness is balanced by a salty and airy crisp that’s really enjoyable. It’s not perfect in replicating caramel popcorn—there’s something to be said for sticky hands and partially melted corn syrup to lick from your fingers—but it’s pretty accurate for what it is, and, what’s more, comes with the benefit of not having any annoying unpopped kernels. And if you’re into the whole “Chicago Mix” thing, I have great news. It pairs wonderfully with an extra salty cheesy crunch from a snack like Cheese Nips, which everyone knows is far superior to Cheez-Its.

I’m not going to endorse Caramel Popcorn Crunch as a part of a complete breakfast because I don’t want the First Lady coming after good old Cap’n Horatio again, but I will definitely give it a thumbs up as a snacking cereal with excellent mixability with other salty snacks.

Will it stick around for more than a couple of years? Probably not, but such is the lifespan of caramel-flavored cereals. If you don’t like it too, then tough. But at least we’ll have twenty million other caramel or salted caramel-flavored products to fall back on.

(Nutrition Facts – 31 grams – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugars, 1 grams of protein, and if you’re getting the majority of vitamins and minerals from cereal you really need to rethink your dietary choices.)

Item: Cap’n Crunch’s Caramel Popcorn Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 16.2 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Salty-sweet flavor makes for an addictive snack. Brown sugar and molasses depth. Delicious dulce de leche type end-milk flavor. Pairs exceptionally well with Cheese Nips.
Cons: Lacks the buttered richness of caramel popcorn. Absolutely no redeeming nutritional value. Tastes horrible mixed with Cocoa Puffs. Not as crunchy as the other Cap’n Crunch flavors, and still only the fourth tastiest version of Cap’n Crunch.

REVIEW: Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal

I’ve never been one for conspiracy theories. But in the case of the abrupt discontinuation of one of cerealdom’s most flawlessly engineered constructs of sugar and corn, I’ve never been able to accept the company line anymore than most Americans buy that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in 1963.

I speak, of course, of Sprinkle Spangles. Officially, any General Mills exec worth his 10 essential vitamins and minerals will dismiss the cereal’s dismissal to it having just run its course at the breakfast table. But, unofficially, whispers persist as to the real reasons why a cereal so great, so unquestionably yummy, was abruptly yanked off shelves.

Some say General Mills was threatened by government health officials who feared an escalation of childhood obesity; others claim wheat farmers cut off shipments to General Mills’ factories over fears the corn-based cereal sales would render their crops obsolete. Still other experts, namely me, have advanced that it was Dom DeLuise who sabotaged the cereal’s continuance.

Acting out because of selfish demands for more money as the cereal’s spokesman, DeLuise’s refusal to make more commercials left General Mills with no choice but to discontinue the cereal or risk the ire of the Hollywood backlash.

Whatever the real reason, we all suffered, and have never quite found a replacement.

Until now. Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch is the proud successor to Sprinkle Spangles we have all waited for.

The aroma alone is almost ethereal, insofar as you might assign such a joyful and otherworldly adjective to a sprinkle coated oat and corn flour ring. More intense in confectionary goodness than even Post’s recent Sugar Cookie Pebbles, this smell makes me want to plunge my nostrils into the plastic sleeve and risk asphyxiation in the name of breakfast. Cooler minds prevailed, but just barely.

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal Dry

Holding a single donut cereal piece in my finger and examining it with the kind of scrutiny usually reserved for rare diamonds, I’m impressed with the size of the donut rounds. These aren’t Cheerios; fatter, larger, and with that slightly fried texture that makes Waffle Crisp so addictive, the donuts have a heft and body to them usually not seen in ringed cereals. They’re also sprouting more sprinkles than a cupcake designed by an overzealous three-year-old baking prodigy.

Popping one of the pieces into my mouth, I allow the sweet taste to dissolve slowly. There’s definitely a strong note of Funfetti mixed with Birthday Cake Goldfish in each ring, but the flavor is aided by a none-too-cloying aftertaste of baked corn, oats and coconut oil that is unmistakably the taste of Cap’n Crunch. Crunching down, you’re met with the familiar shredding sensation that marks the original Cap’n Crunch, expect in this case, you’re also greeted by tiny explosive shards of pure confectionary firepower. Dare I use a nautical analogy in complete deference to ongoing controversy about the Cap’n’s actual naval accomplishments, but these sprinkles deliver a veritable broadside.

Cap'n Crunch's Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal Wet

Normally I would not advocate breeching the hull of the Cap’n’s vessel, but in this instance, taking on water milk only improves the cereal. Having misplaced the keys to my time machine I can’t compare the taste exactly to Sprinkle Spangles, but milk turns the sprinkles into a kind of donut glaze with just enough richness to make each spoonful seem downright dessertish. An especially telling byproduct of this glazed effect is that the milk slowly takes on multicolored form, with pools of red and green developing on the side of the bowl. Restraint isn’t easy, but should you find yourself willing to marinate the still crunchy donut rings in the milk for an extended period of time, you’ll find yourself rewarded with a flavor that echoes a barrage of donuts, snickerdoodles, and yes, our long lost Sprinkle Spangles.

Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch is not, by any means, an accurate representation of a glazed and sprinkled donut. But you know what? Go grab a sprinkled donut from most stores and tell me it’s not better than just “pretty good.” The truth is this latest galleon in the Cap’n’s arsenal is so much more than its name alludes to, capturing the flavor of a bygone cereal and even improving on it. Whether you’ve been circumnavigating in vain for a replacement for Sprinkle Spangles, or charting a course towards a Cap’n Crunch flavor that does the classic taste justice, you’ll want to make Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch the flagship cereal in your pantry.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Cap’n Crunch’s Sprinkled Donut Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 17 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Tastes just like Sprinkle Spangles, except better. Strong notes of Funfetti, snickerdoodle, and glazed donut with all the brown sugar corn and oat crunch of classic Cap’n Crunch. Leaves one of the most amazing end-milk experiences in cerealdom.
Cons: Not the strongest donut flavor. Cereal conspiracy theories. Overreliance on nautical and naval puns to stretch out a narrative that could be summed up as, “this is really freaking yummy.” Doesn’t contain Bavarian crème in the center.

REVIEW: Cap’n Crunch’s Cinnamon Roll Crunch

Cap'n Crunch's Cinnamon Roll Crunch

There’s something a bit surreal about eating breakfast food patterned after an entirely different breakfast food, isn’t there? I don’t want to get overly zen, but it’s like saying, “I enjoy this food enough to want to duplicate its taste, but do you have a slower, less convenient way of eating it?”

We all know cereal is awesome, but you can’t eat it one handed while changing lanes, shifting gears, adjusting the radio, balancing coffee in your lap, and flipping off some moron who’s trying to do too many things at once. And if you can, please cease driving along the PA/NJ border between the hours of 8:30-9:00 every morning.

Nonetheless, Her Majesty’s honorable Captain Horatio Soggybane Crunchley has decided to give it a go, so here we are. If you’re like me, your first thought was, “Did they try to make the pieces look like mini cinnamon rolls? Or will they resemble the jagged Cap’n Crunch bits we all know and some of us love?” The surprising answer is “neither” — these are just little asymmetrical balls, about the size of a Cocoa Puff. No biggie, but it’s slightly puzzling why they didn’t just use the standard CC shape (and for that matter, why they don’t do the same for Peanut Butter Crunch). Either way, it doesn’t impact the taste, and I suppose these are less likely to irritate those with more sensitive palates.

The packaging is fairly typical fare, with the Cap’n holding up a cinnamon roll with wisps of aroma lines that let us know, damn, this fictional drawing of a breakfast pastry smells good. In keeping with the theme, the back has two pictures of a bakery scene, inviting you to find ten differences between them. (I got nine without checking the answers — let me just offer that two of them are such incredibly subtle differences, they make Where’s Waldo look like a child’s search n’ find.) The answer key is on the bottom of the box, though this isn’t clarified anywhere on the package. I guess they figure anyone not smart enough to figure it out isn’t going to be wasting their time with the puzzle anyway.

Continuing on, one side panel boasts the standard nutritional information, the other links to the Cap’n’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy duddy, but I’m not sure I really want to know that the Cap’n’s current relationship status is “My life, my love and my lady is the Sea” or what he’s hashtagging these days. Although if Quaker Oats just turns the Twitter feed over to some wiseass intern and lets him run with it, I can see the potential for comedic goodness. “Hey, remember when I met Spider-Man? How freaking stoned was whoever dreamed that up? #FourTwenty” or “Avast, y u no like crunchness, Soggmeister? :( ”

Cap'n Crunch's Cinnamon Roll Crunch Closeup

I’m realizing we’re four paragraphs in and I haven’t touched on the flavor, so let’s fix that. As you’d expect, these don’t taste exactly like cinnamon rolls, or much like them at all really. In the movie version, the most they’ll be legally allowed to put on screen will be “loosely inspired by.” But they still taste quite good, as I sit here eating dry pieces out of the box, unable to stop myself from reaching for more. There’s a definite cinnamon flavor, though far subtler than you’d find in an actual cinnamon roll. They’re crunchy but not nearly as much so as regular Cap’n Crunch, possibly due to the shape. And if you were hoping for any kind of a frosting drizzle, keep looking. But the smell, while understated, is sugary and appealing.

You know what cereal they vaguely remind me of? The late, much lamented (by me) Waffle Crisp. The texture is a little different, not quite as hard, but they have the same initial burst of sweetness with a maple syrup-y taste. The major difference is that these (obviously) also feature cinnamon, but again, it’s a lot less intense than you’d expect, nowhere near what you’d get from, say, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Which, since we’re addressing the elephant in the room, is still the preferred cinnamon-based breakfast cereal, due to being far more aggressive and flakier. In this case at least, baker comes out on top of seaman. And alas, the good captain’s boast that his cereal doesn’t get soggy in milk is about as credible as his tale of once making it with a mermaid.

But don’t let that steer you away from trying Cap’n Crunch’s Cinnamon Roll Crunch. It’s still a good-tasting cereal that’s worth trying at least once. And since it’s almost certainly for a limited time only, once might be all you get, so hoist the mizzenmast and make for the nearest port immediately.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat 0 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, 10 grams of other carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein)

Item: Cap’n Crunch’s Cinnamon Roll Crunch
Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: 10.3 ounces
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes kind of like Waffle Crisp. Back-of-the-box activities that actually make you work. Crunchy, and sweet but not overly so. Successfully resisting a poop deck joke. Good for dry snacking. What I imagine the Cap’n’s Twitter feed to be like.
Cons: Less interesting shape than normal CC. Cinnamon taste a little subtle. Gets soggy. Makes you crave an actual cinnamon roll. What the Cap’n’s Twitter feed is probably actually like.

NEWS: Crunch Into Cap’n Crunch’s Crunchy Cinnamon Roll Crunch…Crunch Crunch

Cinnamon Roll and Fork 11-1-09 -- IMG_9386

Update: Click here to read our Cap’n Crunch’s Cinnamon Roll Crunch review

My mouth has been cut up by regular Cap’n Crunch and I’ve been burned by Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch. So I might stay away from Cap’n Crunch’s new Cinnamon Roll Crunch.

But, it’s hard because I’m such a sucker for cinnamon roll-flavored cereals.

According to the Cap’n Crunch website, the naturally and artificially flavored corn and oat cereal has “straight-from-the-bakery taste of cinnamon rolls combined with the Cap’n’s famous CRUNCH.” The cereal isn’t like Chocolatey Crunch, which consisted of inner mouth-scratching, chocolate flavored Cap’n Crunch cereal. Instead, Cinnamon Roll Crunch is made up of round cereal puffs, like Crunch Berries.

A cup of the cereal has 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 10 grams of other carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch

Cap'n Crunch's Chocolatey Crunch

After tasting Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch cereal, I decided I want to become the captain of a pirate ship so that I can hunt down Cap’n Crunch’s ship and send him and his crew to Davy Jones’ Locker using a barrage of cannonballs painted to look like Crunch Berries.

Despite it being made with real cocoa and being naturally and artificially flavored, Chocolatey Crunch’s flavor is extremely disappointing. I think they put the wrong suffix in this cereal’s name. Instead of it being called Chocolatey Crunch, it should’ve been called Chocolateish Crunch.

It’s such a let down that if I can’t become the captain of a pirate ship, I’ll try to become an admiral in whatever navy Horatio Magellan Crunch belongs to and demote the Cap’n to a ship’s bird poop remover.

The cereal itself looks like regular Cap’n Crunch that either spent a week sunbathing in Brazil or is into Japanese Ganguro fashion. It looks like it’s going to be chocolatey, but my tongue says it’s not. This tricking of my senses makes me want to put Cap’n Crunch in a cage match with Captain Hook who is armed with Captain Caveman’s club and Captain America’s shield, and has been drinking a lot of Captain Morgan.

Cap'n Crunch's Chocolatey Crunch Closeup

On a scale from one to ten, with ten being skinny dipping in the Wonka factory’s chocolate river and one being far downwind from someone holding up a spoonful of hot cocoa mix, the chocolate level of Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch cereal would be a three. It’s a step above Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies, but many steps below Cocoa Puffs and Cocoa Pebbles. There’s a sweetness to the cereal, but I wouldn’t consider it chocolatey. So it appears the real cocoa doesn’t do a good job of giving this cereal or the aftermilk a nice chocolate flavor. Dammit. I never thought I’d say these words: I wish this cereal was more artificially flavored.

Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch cereal is lighter and crisper than regular Cap’n Crunch, so eating it won’t shred your upper palate raw. But that’s the only real positive I can think of.

I’m just extremely disappointed with Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch cereal. The combination of Cap’n Crunch and chocolate had the potential to be one of the greatest chocolatey cereals ever, but it instead ended up being one of the least chocolatey cereals I’ve ever had. Cap’n Crunch should be forced to walk the plank because of this cereal.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup (cereal only) – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 11 grams of other carbohydrates, 1 gram of protein, and a load of vitamins and minerals.)

Item: Cap’n Crunch’s Chocolatey Crunch
Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 14 ounces
Purchased at: Don Quijote
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Doesn’t make your upper palate raw. A serving provides 100 percent of your daily value of folic acid. Sending Cap’n Crunch to Davy Jones’ Locker.
Cons: Real cocoa doesn’t make this cereal taste real good. Weak chocolate flavor. Had the potential to be a great cereal. Doesn’t turn the aftermilk chocolatey. Japanese women into Ganguro fashion