REVIEW: Kellogg’s Cinnamon Frosted Flakes

Kellogg's Cinnamon Frosted Flakes

As far as I’m concerned, Tony the Tiger is going through something of an identity crisis. Not only has Kellogg’s changed his look to be more “accessible” (like a talking Tiger was accessible to begin with), but his parent company has been rolling out all kinds of flavor variations.

On one hand, I guess Cinnamon Frosted Flakes shouldn’t surprise us. Both Tigers and Cinnamon are native to Bangladesh, and having already cycled through marshmallows, chocolate, and marshmallows and chocolate, it makes sense for Kellogg’s to hit us with a subliminal geography lesson. I wasn’t crazy about Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows, nor did scream gr-r-reat! for the now-defunct Frosted Flakes with Energy Clusters.

So I’ve got good reason to be skeptical of the addition of cinnamon to Frosted Flakes. I say this with 28 years of cereal eating under my belt, literally. Despite the popularity of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, cinnamon-only flavored cereals don’t have a good track record. Cinnamon Burst Cheerios lasted for all of two seconds, while Cinnamon Jacks, Cinna-Crunch Pebbles, and a host of other cinnamon cereals have been relegated to the lonely eulogies written on MrBreakfast.com.

I do not join these individuals in mourning.

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If anything, cinnamon can be overpowering if applied in the wrong context, which is exactly the case with Cinnamon Frosted Flakes. The cinnamon flavor is floral and spicy, somewhere between the flavor of cinnamon gum and the aroma of a cinnamon-scented candle. The weird thing is that it takes a second to activate, and when it does, it’s more of an aroma and sensation than a taste.

And boy is it strong.

The characteristic sweetness of Frosted Flakes is still there, but before the sweetness dissipates, it’s overwhelmed by the authentic cinnamon flavor. The problem isn’t that it doesn’t taste like cinnamon; the problem is that it tastes too much like cinnamon, so much that the malted sweetness and slight corn flavor that are present in Frosted Flakes get lost.

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The effect is not so extreme in milk, but that in and of itself doesn’t make Cinnamon Frosted Flakes desirable. There’s a decent cinnamon run-off into the milk, and the trademarked soggy corn sweetness of Frosted Flakes is still there, but the flavors of frosted flakes and cinnamon just don’t go together.

Clearly, something isn’t working in the grand scheme of Tony the Tiger’s life. The thing is, I have no idea why this is, except to suggest that this is some kind of mid-life cereal crisis that doesn’t need to be. We can all agree that Frosted Flakes are gr-r-reat!, but frankly, the new flavors, including Cinnamon Frosted Flakes, are really just “oh-oh-oh-kay.”

(Nutrition Facts – 29 grams – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 150 mg of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 26.8 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Authentic and floral cinnamon flavor in every spoonful. Better than the now defunct Simply Cinnamon Corn Flakes. Subliminal geography lessons.
Cons: Cinnamon flavor dominates the subtle malt and corn flavors of the flakes. Like eating a cinnamon-flavored candle. More an aroma than a true flavor. Lacks the buttery “toasted” flavors of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Cinnamon Chex.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows remind me of my fourth grade Stormtrooper Halloween costume.

Like eight-year old Adam in awe of the theatrical release of the Stars Wars Special Edition movies, Tony the Tiger’s latest creation sets out to trick-or-treat with only the utmost respect for the ethos of Halloween.

Problem is, there’s some stiff competition. In my case, it was Luke, who ironically decided to trick-or-treat as a Stormtrooper the same year I did (Like, really? Your name is Luke and you decide to go as a Stormtrooper?)

Anyways, Luke’s costume kicked the crap out of mine. He was the kid with the lights and sound enhanced Stormtrooper carbine, specially crafted armor, and an actual helmet like those people who go to ComicCon. I, meanwhile, had a mask attached with a string, a cheap white smock with some black lines on it, and (because my parents hated weapons) a pillowcase stuffed with candy as my only armament.

In other words, Luke was the Count Chocula to my Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows, which, while okay, are quickly defrocked as an imitator to the chocolaty standard of limited edition Halloween cereals.

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To Kellogg’s credit, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows get the job done as a snacking cereal. There’s a savory and sweet thing that goes on with the cocoa-glazed flakes, which still have that crunchy, malted corn aftertaste of original Frosted Flakes. But the cocoa flavor is mild and varies from flake to flake, while the marshmallows are just bad. Sure they look cool; a deconstructed skeleton beats the ambiguously-shaped blobs that Count Chocula claims are bats, but the Frosted Flakes marshmallows lack a sturdy texture ideal for snacking or a long soaking in milk.

And it’s in milk that Tony the Tiger’s Halloween cereal is stripped of its chocolate costume. The cocoa quickly flows off the flakes, but the end-milk, while darkly colored like a Halloween night, tastes nothing like the cocoa-infused milk left behind by Count Chocula, Cocoa Puffs, or other tier one chocolate cereals. Combined with the marshmallows, it’s just a hyper sweet bowl of milk with faraway (far, far away) notes of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows are an okay novelty cereal that will do in a pinch, but like that flimsy Stormtrooper mask and loose-fitting “armored” smock that I wore for Halloween as a kid, the cereal is too easily unmasked. And with the chocolate covered spirit of Halloween in good and cocoa-powder stained hands with Count Chocula, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows probably won’t be making a repeat appearance in my pantry next year.

(Nutrition Facts – 30 grams – 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 150 mg of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 1 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.74
Size: 9.5 oz. box
Purchased at: United Supermarket
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable cocoa and milled corn flavor when eaten as a snack. Marshmallows provide a needed textural contrast to the crunchy frosted flakes. Creative use of a marshmallow artwork.
Cons: Not as chocolaty as Count Chocula and leaves nonexistent chocolate end-milk. Marshmallows aren’t as sturdy as Count Chocula. Wait, are the skeletons from people Tony the Tiger ate? My stupid fourth grade Halloween costume.

REVIEW: Quaker Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal

Quaker Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal

Let me be honest with you all – I think I’m basic.

Each year I eagerly anticipate the arrival of the cool autumn air and the changing of the leaves. Fall brings with it an excuse to wear my large collection of flannel shirts, strap on my boots (they’re not Uggs….yet), and head out to the countryside to pay extra money to pick my own apples that end up being smaller than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

And while some folks may believe that apple cinnamon is the quintessential fall flavor of choice, I am here to proclaim my love for anything and everything that is pumpkin spice. Sure, the latte has run through my veins from September through November in the past, but the grocery aisles have been my go-to for orangey and spicey products in recent years. 2015 brought us pumpkin spice kale chips (for basic vegans), pumpkin spice eggnog (for basic holiday combiners), and even pumpkin spice vodka (for basic drunks), and if you’ve read TIB in the past few weeks, you know that 2016 is shaping up to offer even more nutmeggy goodness.

As such, I jumped at the opportunity to review Pumpkin Spice Life Cereal. To be honest, I found it hard to believe that such a classic cereal would get on the pumpkin spice train, but the more the merrier. Next stop, my mouth. CHOO CHOO!

Life was never my first choice of cereal as a kid. I mean, when you’re competing with Cap’n Crunch and Count Chocula, a picture of wheat squares on the box wasn’t really appealing. As I grew older and wiser, my palette learned to appreciate Life and its cooler younger brother, Cinnamon Life. I eagerly dove into Pumpkin Spice Life, hoping that I’d be able to welcome it to the family with open arms.

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Upon opening the box, I was concerned that I’d mistakenly grabbed a box of traditional Life in error. Pumpkin Spice Life is relatively dull in the package, even though the box screams OMG THERE’S FALL IN HERE. The cereal offers nothing that will remind you of a pumpkin pie baking in the oven or the colors of the changing leaves. In fact, I was only able to discern any sort of cinnamon or nutmeg scent when I brought a spoonful of cereal right under my nose, and it was a very weak smell at that.

My bites of the cereal were similarly bland. The flavor of Pumpkin Spice Life, like regular Life, is very grain heavy, with notes of oats and wheat at the forefront. The tastes of cinnamon and nutmeg are only faintly evident, but become amped up with the inclusion of milk. A word to the wise though – once you add milk, you’ll need to finish your bowl quickly, lest you enjoy cereal that is the consistency of mashed potatoes.

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The best part about pumpkin spice flavored products is that they typically bring a strong punch of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice right from the beginning. You want to feel like you’ve been slapped in the face with your Thanksgiving dessert spread, and Pumpkin Spice Life isn’t going to give you any of that. Unless you’re a fan of muted fall flavors, I don’t suggest you play the game of Pumpkin Spice Life.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 13 oz box
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Witty board game references. Good for fans of regular Life. Flannel shirts worn unironically.
Cons: Hey Mikey, he hates it! Barely discernible pumpkin spice flavor. Mushy in milk.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Cereal

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheerios Cereal

Pumpkin spice presents an existential crisis for the creative writer.

There is only so much that can said about it. What there is to say has been said before, said again, and then said in a different way. Chances are the same trite expression about pushing autumn in August, or the long litany of pumpkin spice products now available to us, is currently being wrestled onto the page of another food blog. We, the pumpkin spice addicts of America, have long since typed our love affair with the orange gourd and its seminal flavors into a monotony of clichés.

This is a damn shame, because when done right, pumpkin spice should not be reduced to a cliché.

Take the new Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheerios.

This is limited edition cereal to end all limited edition cereals; the kind of product that’s worth stocking up on from the beginning of August and then rationing out through the polar onslaught of December and humid days of July.

To be fair, we should have expected this much. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios were announced back in the spring when Strawberry Cheerios came out, and given the success of the spring flavor, Cheerios let us know they’re not doing this LTO thing half-ass.

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Case in point, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios don’t taste like cinnamon. The flavor isn’t the cheap heavy note of cassia, nor is it the honey or brown sugar sweetness that often comes along for the pumpkin spice ride. Likewise, this is not the repackaged taste of Honey Nut Cheerios or Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are pumpkin spice Cheerios. There’s the sweet fragrant note of nutmeg, the aromatic warmth of clove, and, yes, the flavors of cinnamon and ginger.

Lest you think this is just a pumpkin spice flavor, there is some serious sweet pumpkin flavor going on in each of those oat rings. The addition of real pumpkin in the ingredients makes a world of difference when eating the cereal in milk, where the sublime essence of pumpkin desserts comes to life.

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Yes, sublime essence. Think of it as that moment when crust component, pumpkin component, and dairy meet. Here the warming and exotic notes of spices co-mingle with the sweetened taste of pumpkin and the richness of milk. A hearty crunch filled with sweetened dairy and a bit of milkfat greets eats spoonful, and in that moment the eater relives everything that is right about the cool breeze of October and the multicolored leaves that drift to the ground.

I may have chomped down on my first bite on a 95-degree day in west Texas, but if I would have closed my eyes and blasted a fan in my face then I’m pretty sure I could have fooled myself into believing it was autumn. It sure tasted that way.

Based on the rapidly growing list of pumpkin spice cereals entering the market, we’ll soon have the proverbial cornucopia to choose from. I don’t doubt many of these cereals will be good, but few, I’m willing to bet, will be able to match the appeal of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios.

(Nutrition Facts – 28 grams – 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 120 mg of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 21 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Outstanding representation of the complexity of pumpkin spices that exceeds the dull and heavy cinnamon flavor sometimes assigned to pumpkin spice. Sweet, hearty taste of oat base. Wonderful rich flavor in milk that tastes like the edge of a pumpkin pie or bar.
Cons: Could be a tad sweeter and have a “glaze” like Honey Nut Cheerios. The creative struggle to explain the appeal of pumpkin spice.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cap’n Crunch’s Orange Creampop Crunch Cereal

Limited Edition Cap’n Crunch’s Orange Creampop Crunch Cereal

Confession time: I have never in my life eaten Cap’n Crunch. That’s right: me and the Cap’n have never made it happen.

I know one thing about Cap’n Crunch, which is that it is like eating a spoonful of razor blades. This is just one of those things I’ve heard people speak of while they fondly recall their childhood. It baffles me. Did you all turn into little masochists when it was breakfast time?

It’s not one of those situations where I wasn’t allowed sugary cereals, either – Tony the Tiger and…whatever the name of the Lucky Charms leprechaun is were regulars in my house. The Cap’n just never entered my radar. Ha! I just realized that’s a boat joke.

Before we get started, I want to note that the marketing department did a spot-on job with the front of this box. Everything from the jaunty orange valance to the Olde Tyme Shoppe font to the little ice cream cart proclaiming that this flavor is Limited Edition made me want to pick up Cap’n Crunch’s Orange Creampop Crunch and take it home with me.

I will say, though, it seems less like the Cap’n is offering me a 50/50 bar and more like he’s about to assault me with it. Stand down, Cap’n! We all be buckos here!

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I know the cereal is orange on the front of the box, but I wasn’t quite prepared for how bright it was when I opened the box. My brain immediately went to Cheetos, which is a weird thought to have when you’re about to eat sugary cereal.

Luckily, I was able to push the cheesy thoughts away and dig in to my bowl full of crunchy Creamsicles. I mean, Creampops. Wouldn’t want to violate any registered trademarks, here.

It was hard to pin down the taste at first, but finally the perfect analogy came to me – Froot Loops that had been dosed with extra artificial orange flavoring. It was that ubiquitous “I’m fruity!” sugar cereal flavor but with one particular standout.

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Unfortunately, this does not a 50-50 bar/Creamsicle/Creampop make. Where was the vanilla? I thought I tasted hints, but that could have just been the milk and sugar mixing with my imagination.

Regardless, I’m very familiar with the delicious flavor of the orange and vanilla ice cream bar, and this was not it. Along with the lack of vanilla, which is half of what makes up the ice cream bar this cereal was modeled after, the orange was all wrong. The orange outside of a Creamsicle has a light, fruity orange flavor, and the Cap’ns version was like an orange Runt got mixed in there and started throwing punches.

Something kept pulling at me, telling me that Orange Creampop Crunch reminded me of something, and then I realized it: Yummy Mummy cereal! The difference is that Yummy Mummy actually tasted like orange cream, in my opinion. Congrats, Cap’n, you got showed up by a Halloween monster.

With all that said, will I have another bowl? Probably. I might even finish the box. Despite the over-orangeness and disappointing vanilla, Cap’n Crunch’s Orange Creampop Crunch has that satisfyingly artificial, super sugary, crunchy goodness. I’ll just pretend I’m eating orange Froot Loops that managed not to sog out after two seconds in milk.

Me and the Cap’n finally made it happen. I popped my Cap’n Crunchcherry. I would say that I regret that that is the second-to-last sentence of my review, but I regret nothing.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 11 grams of other carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49 (on sale)
Size: 14 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Had that lovely sugary artificial fruit flavor. Boat jokes! You’ll like it if you’ve been craving orange cereal. Cute box design. Stays crunchy in milk. Didn’t cut my mouth to shreds.
Cons: Lack of vanilla flavor. The Cap’n trying to assault me. Orange flavor was very artificial. Making gross jokes about the Cap’n popping my cherry. Totally failed at capturing the flavor of a Creamsicle.