REVIEW: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal

Kellogg's Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal

You probably have a lot of questions about Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal.

Does it come with two scoop of dried cranberries? Or are two scoops of cranberries and two scoops of raisins dumped into each box? Or does it contain one scoop of raisins and one scoop of dried cranberries? Does Mr. Sun on the box realize that his extinction means the extinction of the entire galaxy? Also, if he doesn’t realize it, would he still smile if he did?

I can answer most those questions.

Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal has a scoop of raisins and a scoop of dried cranberries. Also, yes.

I wonder why it’s taken so long for Kellogg’s to combine dried cranberries with their bran flakes. I thought they would’ve done it soon after the word “Craisins” came into our snacking vernacular thanks to Ocean Spray. Actually, I didn’t expect them to end up in a new Raisin Bran variety. I thought they would have their own line called Kellogg’s Cran Bran.

Kellogg's Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal Closeup

If you love dried cranberries and have Costco-sized bags of Ocean Spray Craisins in every room in your house, including your bathroom and S&M chamber, then this cereal will disappoint. Because, after going through the entire box, I think it smells and tastes like good ol’ regular Raisin Bran.

While eating my first bowl, I thought I might’ve gotten a bad box with nothing but raisins. All the shrived fruit looks the same at arms length in an poorly lit S&M chamber. But a closer inspection with better lighting revealed the reddish dried cranberries, and it looked like there was an equal amount of both fruits. However, the dried cranberries sans milk and bran flakes, didn’t have much flavor or tartness.

So if the cranberries don’t offer any flavor, what do they offer?

I also have an answer for that.

Cranberries are a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that regular Kellogg’s Raisin Bran doesn’t have. A serving of Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal has 25 percent of your daily recommended intake. So if you want those damn free radicals to get off your damn lawn, this cereal will help.

Overall, if you enjoy Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, need more vitamin E in your diet, and don’t mind that the bran flakes get soggy quicker than a sponge in the rain, then you’ll enjoy Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with Cranberries.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 1/4 cup – 200 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 210 milligrams of potassium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamin and minerals.)

Item: Kellogg’s Raisin Bran with Cranberries Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 13.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: If you like Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, this will taste the same. Good source of vitamin E. Appears to have an equal amount of raisins and dried cranberries in every box. Cran Bran has a nice ring to it. Two scoops!
Cons: If you like Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, this will taste the same. Cranberries don’t have much flavor or tartness. Not as much potassium and fiber as regular Kellogg’s Raisin Bran. Soggy bran flakes.

REVIEW: French Toast Crunch Cereal (2014)

French Toast Crunch 2015 Return

Let me take you back to 1999 for a few precious moments.

My mother’s silver Ford Windstar was bumping Smashmouth’s “All Star” as she dropped me off at elementary school, where for the next seven hours I’d gloss over lessons in long division and conjunctions in order to run an illicit Pokémon “distribution” center based out of my Star Wars Episode 1 pencil box. Afternoons were spent in the basement with my Sega Genesis (I always was a few years late with the systems) seemingly set in perpetual pause mode as I tried to pass the eighth level of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

In the evening, I’d cover my ears when the news came on and Tom Brokaw would tell my parents how the world would end with Y2K approaching. But I still managed to get a very solid nine hours of sleep each night with nothing but sweet, sweet dreams.

Why, you ask? Could it have been the innocence of youth? Or the absence of a soul-sucking job for which I’d have to wake up at 4 a.m. each morning?

Well, yes. But more importantly, it was because of French Toast Crunch.

Sweet, maple syrupy, and crunchy, it was for millions of us the gold standard in breakfast cereals. It might have been the single most dominant reason for relative world peace during the 1990s, and its delicious power to render slurp worthy end-milk allowed countless young Americans to partake in the bone-strengthening but otherwise insipid taste of skim milk.

French Toast Crunch 2015 Return 2

But sometime between our blissful ignorance of munching on a bowl box during marathons of ABC’s “One Saturday Morning”, a funny thing happened. The French Toast Crunch we all knew and loved changed. It wasn’t French Toast Crunch anymore. Instead it was a variation of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. As the box artwork and shape of the cereal pieces changed, so did the flavor, and before we knew it, the cereal faded into obscurity.

Until now.

Spurred on by a passionate social media campaign years in the making, General Mills has brought back French Toast Crunch in its original form from the 1990s, returning it to American store shelves after a lengthy exile in Canada.

As some of you may know, I’ve been fortunate enough to have, uh, procured Canadian French Toast Crunch in the not so distant past. I’m indebted to those Canadians who have offered to indulge my inner ten-year-old every now and again, although I’m obligated to point out it’s only fair considering we gave them the greatest cereal of all time and they gave us Nickelback. In any event, the Canadian version of French Toast Crunch is beyond delicious. The question, then, was whether or not the resurrected American version would be equally enjoyable.

Well, I have good news and bad news after tasting the returned version of French Toast Crunch. The bad news is I still don’t think we can turn back time and return Nickelback to Canada and get “One Saturday Morning” back on ABC. The good news? French Toast Crunch is even better than I remember it as a kid with all the crunchy glazed maple syrup goodness you or I could ask for.

French Toast Crunch 2015 Return 3

On the off chance you’re either A) An old fart who wouldn’t understand B) Too young to have eaten the original or C) Just have something wrong with you and have never tasted French Toast Crunch, here’s what you’re in for. Little squares of glazed “toast” with an authentic but not overpowering maple flavor, graced with a crunchy corn base with a wonderfully smooth glaze which gives each piece a lickable quality in milk.

French Toast Crunch 2015 Return 4

There are undertones of Cap’n Crunch and Quisp in the brown sugar and corn notes, while a Waffle Crisp flavor and crunch persists right down to the finish. Equally enjoyable when eaten as a snack or in a bowl of milk, it is, in two words, quite ideal. Beyond that, I’d likely exhaust the vocabulary of overused descriptive food terms before capturing the quintessence of why this cereal tastes so great.

French Toast Crunch is back, and it’s just as good as it’s ever been. It might not be able to take you physically back to 1999 (only a Flux Capacitor can do that) but set against the backdrop of a YouTube video of your favorite childhood cartoon and a lazy Saturday morning, it’s the next best thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup or 28 grams –110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 150 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.).)

Item: French Toast Crunch Cereal (2014)
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.6 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Even better than I remember it. All the authentic maple qualities of Waffle Crisp with a smooth, glazed surface on each piece which is without equal in cerealdom. Wonderful Quisp-like crispness and slight corn aftertaste. Leaves delicious end-milk even in skim milk. Instantly my new favorite cereal…again.
Cons: Anxiety over sales performance in an already oversatured market. Sleepless night left wondering if this means Oreo O’s will come back too? Not being able to export Nickelback back to Canada.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp Cereal

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp

As a child, I was restricted from the consumption of two things: Mountain Dew and sugary cereal. I was always incredibly jealous of the other kids that were tearing the shit out of their mouths with Cap’n Crunch. Because, you know, it’s delicious and life is unfair. Fortunately for me, my childhood deprivation transcended into my adulthood in the form of me reaching for Oat Bran instead of sugar coma inducing cereals.

Thanks, Mom. 

On the occasion, albeit rare, that I would be able to enjoy anything other than regular Cheerios, Cookie Crisp was a favorite of mine. There was something so perfectly harmonious about being able to have cookies and milk for breakfast. That, my friends, is living the dream as a 7-year-old. Not only did you feel like you were pulling a fast one over your parents by having a traditional after-dinner snack before 10AM, but you always had the urge to say the iconic commercial slogan, “Cooookkiiiieee Crisp.”

If you didn’t just say it out loud, you know you said it in your head. No judgements.

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp Dry

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp should really just be called Sugar Cookie Crisp because that is the overwhelming flavor coming from this product. Unfortunately, it lacks any multi-level flavor composition other than a slight fruity undertone which reminds me of the milk left behind in a bowl of Trix.

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp In Milk

Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp Milk

The “Holiday Sprinkles” hold absolutely no purpose other than creating an aesthetically pleasing bowl of leftover 2% milk. Another positive is that the cereal is made with mostly corn-based products allowing the cereal to maintain its crunchy texture, even after taking a milk bath. Because who really enjoys soggy cereal?

Crazy people, that’s who.

All in all, if you’re craving cookies and milk for breakfast (assuming you over indulged in your favorite alcoholic beverage the night before, because I have never met an adult that actually wants cookies for breakfast that wasn’t hung over), do yourself a favor and walk straight past the cereal aisle. Go buy a gallon of milk and some Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies and write me a thank you letter telling me how much better of an idea that is than cereal.

Be right back. I’m going to go get some Mountain Dew and Betty Crocker Sugar Cookies because I am 25 now and can do what I want.

Sorry, Mom.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup (without milk) – 100 calories (without milk) 140 calories (with 1/2 cup skim milk), 1 gram of fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein..)

Item: Limited Edition Holiday Sprinkles Cookie Crisp
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.25 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like sugar cookies. Living the dream as a 7-year-old. Holds texture in milk. Milk looks fancy once cereal is gone. Being an “adult” and doing what I want. “Cooookkiiiieee Crisp” slogan will live on forever. Being hung over and eating cookies for breakfast.
Cons: Eating healthy cereal instead of sugary cereal. Lacks multi-level flavor composition. Boring. Cap’n Crunch ruins mouths. Being hung over and eating cookies for breakfast.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal

Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal

Dear Nick,

First off, I hope you don’t mind me using your first name. I figure now that I’m older and no longer writing to you on a yearly basis with my egregious gift requests, we could drop the excessive formalities. Speaking of which, I want you to know I harbor no ill will about my letter dated 5 December 1998. Turns out little girls with Olympic aspirations are much more deserving of a pony than any 10-year old boy trying to recreate a scene from Indiana Jones in his backyard. Besides, horses poop. I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with that.

Anyways, I’m writing to you this year as one cookie fiend to another. You should know that when you shimmy down chimneys this year you may not find the usual assortment of gingerbread men, peanut butter Kisses, and snickerdoodles arranged neatly beside a glass of milk. What you might find is a bowl of cereal in milk.

I know. It certainly sounds like an egregious attempt to circumvent the spirit of Christmas Eve, or at the very least a cabal by concerned parents trying to teach their children a lesson about saturated fat intake. I also had many reservations. But you, Nick, are more familiar with the inexplicable magic of the season than most, so it should come as no surprise to the man who guides his sled by flying reindeer that cereals can transform into cookies.

How else can you explain a transformation that defies reason? Not to mention evidence that bakeshop-inspired cereals suck.

But this cereal doesn’t suck. Actually, it’s pretty freaking good. While looking the same as 2012’s less than memorable Frosted Toast Crunch, Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch is much better. And it’s a worthy substitute for fresh baked cookies in your Christmas Eve travels. And believe me, Nick, I’m a certified expert when it comes to sugar cookies, thanks mostly to the complimentary sugar cookies offered at the Harris Teeter store they opened on our street about a year ago. (Side note: You won’t be putting me on the naughty list for taking more than one on each visit, will you?)

Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal 2

But back to the cereal, or should I say the mini sugar cookies, because that’s what each one of these little squares taste like. They have a lighter texture on the tongue than the other cereals of the Toast Crunch family, but keep that delightful crisp exterior, which in this case glistens with specks of superfine sugar that mirror freshly fallen snow.

There’s a Frosted Flakes taste going on when you eat the squares dry. It’s not cloying and there isn’t any hint of the toasted richness French Toast Crunch used to have, but there’s something about the crispy texture and vanilla flavor of the sugar which inexplicably registers as sugar cookie. It’s as if, by some commutative property of Christmas magic, the essence of whatever makes a sugar cookie a sugar cookie and not, say, a snickerdoodle, has been extracted and sprinkled over each square.

Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal 4

I know you’re not one to eat cookies without milk, and the good news for you (and me) is that Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch tastes amazing in milk. The combination of sugar and milk creates an instant flavor of royal icing, and leaves a rich and sweet end milk which should be bottled and sold. Come to think of that, maybe I’ll add that to my Christmas wish list.

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch isn’t perfect, Nick. It’s still not as great as Frosted Toast Crunch, and I personally still love Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Chocolate Toast Crunch better. But when it comes to recreating a cookie taste, don’t be so quick to pass over a bowl left out this Christmas Eve. I think you’ll find it’s worth a few presents in some kid’s stocking. Oh yeah, and please send me a pony.

Sincerely,

Adam

(Nutrition Facts – 31 grams – 130 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12.2 oz. box
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good representation of sugar cookie flavor. Light and crispy texture plain, with a Frosted Flakes-like aftertaste. Not too sweet. Sucks up milk like a fat man in a red suit. Better than Frosted Toast Crunch. Leaves sugar cookie end milk.
Cons: Still not French Toast Crunch. Possibly laced with Christmas magic dust. Lacks buttery crumb. Still not getting a pony.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal

It can be said that the less excited you are about something, the greater the opportunity it has to pleasantly surprise you. That’s the optimistic view, anyway. So when a product’s name contains the words “Rice” and “Multi-Grain,” well, it has a pretty good chance to impress you by being even halfway decent.

Fair or not, I tried to temper my expectations to reasonable levels when buying Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-grain Shapes. I like regular Rice Krispies just fine, but they don’t top the list of my absolute favorite cereals, and multi-grain bread and I are historically not friends. (Actually, thanks to my younger daughter’s allergies, ANY store-bought bread and I aren’t friends, but that’s another story.)

That said, the box itself mitigates this a bit, offering hope via Pop’s sign proclaiming the cereal to be “lightly sweetened graham flavored.” That’s promising, and though it carries a hint of trying to have their cake and eat it too (“Hey parents, we’re healthy, buy us… wait, kids, come back, we also taste like graham crackers and have fun shapes!”), they’re certainly not the only cereal to try that tactic. Frosted Mini-Wheats, anyone?

Moving on, the rest of the box is rather bland, swapping out the classic blue Rice Krispies palette for bright yellow. On the plus side, the elves remain in their classic form; Kellogg’s hasn’t tried to youthanize them with baggy shorts, earrings, and baller shades.

The back of the box is surprisingly busy, combining bad jokes, a recipe for Popcorn Munchie Mix, and myriad reasons to buy this product. One touts that buying this cereal is a “Smart Move, Mom,” so as far as Kellogg’s is concerned, all you stay-at-home dads and men who do the grocery shopping can go fuck yourselves.

Opening up the plastic bag immediately wafts a strong smell into your nostrils, and I’m sorry to report it isn’t pleasant. Describing aromas is always hard, but just know that it smells slightly musty and not at all sweet, like your grandmother’s attic minus the slim chance of finding a copy of Action Comics #1. Not ideal, but then the taste is ultimately the only thing that really matters. So here we are: spoon in hand, milk in bowl, do-or-die time. Will the taste send Multi-Grain Shapes home in ignominious defeat?

But no! Far from it, that first bite is the equivalent of, if not a home run, at least a line drive past a diving shortstop for extra bases. This may actually be the only product I’ve ever tasted where the multi-grain version is more flavorful than the “regular” edition. Which is both surprising and terrific, frankly.

Oddly enough — because this is maybe the last cereal in the world I’d have expected to compare multi-grain Rice Krispies to — the taste isn’t entirely dissimilar to Waffle Crisp. I know, it sounds crazy and/or blasphemous, but the texture is very similar and the graham flavor of the Krispies shapes is somehow akin to the faux syrup flavor of the WC.

Honestly, if you’re a regular patron of Waffle Crisp, consider Multi-Grain Shapes as a viable alternative, if only because they’re a smidge healthier. (Only a smidge, though, in case you thought this was the breakfast equivalent of eating celery.)

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal Closeup

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the shapes because they sort of morph a bit in milk, plus I’m ostensibly an adult. They’re not the most interesting of shapes, really — nothing like little C-3PO heads or ghosts. There are four in total: a stick figure, a tree, a Star of David, and a (Jesus?) fish. Which makes them pretty welcome in our dual faith household, and since the tree obviously represents Wiccans, it’s almost a shame the stick figure isn’t (as far as I know) a recognized symbol of Islam, or we’d have a damn progressive cereal on our hands here. Or maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way and it’s supposed to be a Wicker Man. Got to throw those pagans a bone too. (Lucky Charms don’t count.)

Okay, I’m getting weird, which generally means it’s time to wrap things up. Bottom line: don’t let the “multi-grain” part turn you off if you demand taste over healthiness. Conversely, if you ARE concerned with good nutrition first and foremost, you get a nice bonus of some delicious cereal to nom nom. Whether tempered expectations helped or not, I can honestly report that this is a pretty darn good breakfast option. Enjoy!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of total 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, 100 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 10.8 oz box
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tastes better paired with a beer than you’d expect. The price is right. Religiously inclusive breakfast cereal. Who ever thought a Rice Krispies affiliate would ever evoke Waffle Crisp? Reasonably healthy.
Cons: Smells like a mummy’s tomb. Distinct lack of any snap, crackle, and/or pop sound. I lied that none of the elves have been modernized, Crackle actually is wearing sneakers and jeans… you watch your ass, son. Now I’m going to expect ALL healthy cereals to taste good.