REVIEW: Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal

Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal

Your kitchen, circa nineteen-ninety something. Your hair is shabby and your brain is in a fog after another week of grinding through pages of fractions and mitosis, but Saturday morning has finally yielded its sweet relief from the onerous oppression that is the sixth grade. You’ve been put on the spot all week long, but today, there’s no chance of giving the wrong answer. As you open the pantry and breathe in the scintillating aroma of dextrose and trisodium phosphate, you realize the correct answer is “all of the above.”

Hey look, I’m not casting judgment. We all mixed and matched our cereals in those days before chocolate combined with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and marshmallows found their way into Froot Loops. When you think about it, we had to. It was sheer evolution. How else was I suppose to recreate apple cinnamon waffles then to add Apple Cinnamon Cheerios to Waffle Crisp? But somewhere over the last fifteen years the fat cats at General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Post got wind of what we were up to. Like any good business people, they consulted the brightest minds in high-performance and highly refined grains, came up with a flowchart for these sorts of situations, and devised a plan for research and development. I imagine it went something like this:

Mr. Bob Post, CEO: What do we have on the agenda today? Ah yes, Honeycomb. Classic. Underrated. Consistent. The Andre Reed of cereals, if you will. But sales are down. How can we jazz it up?

Herbert Sherbert, Head of R&D: Chocolate!

Mr. Bob Post: Tried it. Absolutely abysmal. What else you got?

Herbert Sherbert: How about Cinnamon? I heard Apple Jacks was doing that now and the reviews have been great!

Mr. Bob Post: I like it, but we’ve tried that too. Just didn’t sell. Kids these days have no sense of nuance. Looks like we’ll have to go with Plan Ireland.

Herbert Sherbet: You mean Curtis Stone? I actually think he’s Australian…

Mr. Bob Post: No, you idiot. I mean that Irish cereal, whatyacall it, the one with marshmallows.

Herbert Sherbert: You mean Lucky Charms?

Mr. Bob Post: That’s the one! Lucky Charms! Now let’s marshmallowize this beeswax!

Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal Closeup

And so, through the miracles of capitalism, Post’s Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows was born. Why “Twisted”? Other than the squiggly line running down the marshmallows, I seriously have no idea. But considering hearts, stars, and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons were already taken, I guess the options were somewhat limited. In any event, it’s my experience that marshmallows can subtly, yet brilliantly, elevate what otherwise might be a plain cereal base. Lucky Charms is obviously the quintessential example, with the sturdy and crunchy oat pieces—small and not overly sweet on their own—pairing wonderfully with the bursts of sweetness provided by the ‘mallows.

Unfortunately, Honeycomb doesn’t derive such a boost from the marshmallows. The Honeycomb pieces themselves are fine; they have that just-right level of sweetness and gentle, non-toasted crunch which somehow holds its texture in milk. I’ve always kind of admired the strange savory taste of Honeycomb, which seems to blend just the right proportions of corn, oat, and honey flavor.

The thing that has always trouble me is the lack of a glaze. Other honey cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Nut Chex have a sturdier glaze, which helps to retain the distinctive taste and crunch of the sweetened grain in milk. Honeycomb just doesn’t have it, though, and the pieces themselves become sort of bland when you let them soak.

Ideally the marshmallows would supply little bursts of twisted sweetness, but because of the bulky size of the Honeycomb pieces, the marshmallows get lost in the shuffle. When you do get the taste of the marshmallows, you get, well, the taste of a marshmallow. For some reason marshmallows work in some cereals and don’t work in others, and in this case, they don’t add anything.

In fairness, the cereal is much better as a snack, where the subtle honey flavor can shine without being slowly diffused and lost amidst the milk. The net effect of the marshmallows, though, doesn’t share in the improvement, and despite granting any given mouthful a bit more sweetness, they don’t contribute anything that makes this iteration of Honeycomb stand out from the original. It pains me to admit it, but I found the cereal to be altogether bland for something that advertising 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Where do cereal R&D people go after trying chocolate, cinnamon, and marshmallow versions of a classic, well, I just don’t have the answer. But it looks like they’ll be heading back to the drawing board soon enough, because this limited time only cereal just doesn’t deliver anything special.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 1/4 cup – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.37
Size: 12.5 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: If you like Honeycomb you’ll like this. Pretty good snacking cereal. Has a savory corn and oat element. Not having to pick out the marshmallows from Lucky Charms and add them to other cereals.
Cons: Marshmallows don’t add anything. Not nearly as good as Cinna-Graham Honeycomb, which was the shit before Post discontinued it. Doesn’t taste very sweet in milk. Missing the glazed crunch of other honey-flavored cereals. Hardly any fiber.

QUICK REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Raisin

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Raisin

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 15 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: It’s a good cereal; it tastes like a less raisin-y raisin bran. Hey folks with low hemoglobin counts, just like all Frosted Mini Wheats, it’s an awesome source of iron. Great to eat straight out of the box as a snack. Nice crunch when eaten dry. Fortified with a bunch of vitamins and minerals. Hey folks who don’t eat enough fiber, just like all Frosted Mini Wheats, it’s an awesome source of fiber.
Cons: I know it’s “Touch of Fruit,” but a part of me wishes it had a hard poke of fruit because it looks like there’s 1/3 or 1/4 of a raisin in there. Anthropomorphic cereal still freaks me out. Like all Frosted Mini Wheats, it quickly becomes soggy in milk.

Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle Raisin Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 24 biscuits w/no milk – 190 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 240 milligrams of potassium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.

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: Chex Chips (Caramelized Onion, Cinnamon and Sugar, Cheddar Jalapeño, and Wasabi)

Chex Chips

Yo, do y’all remember the story of the Three Little Pigs?

Well, here’s a recap in case you recently fell off of a train of something.

Basically, there are these three anthropomorphic pigs that get kicked out of their house by their mother because they are probably all like 22 and have degrees in Philosophy or Russian Literature and don’t have jobs. Anyway, the titular three pigs travel out in the world and decide that they each need some new digs.

Two of the pigs, who apparently have never seen an actual house, each decide to erect crude little shelters out of straw and sticks respectively. The third pig, and possibly the only one that never received a traumatic brain injury in his youth, builds his using bricks like a champ. Eventually a hungry wolf arrives whose plan of attack, loudly announcing his arrival while blowing as hard as he can on each home, easily destroys the first two lousy shelters. Not wanting to be eaten, the first two pigs run to the smarter, craftier third pig and seek shelter in his house, which, because it’s basically a brick fortress, keeps them all safe. Hooray!

The moral of this little story is clear: You can get by in a group by being completely and utterly useless as long as at least one of you has their shit together.

Chex Mix, much like the Three Little Pigs, is similarly plagued by certain members who cannot carry their own weight. While greatly enjoyable as a whole, those dry, squiggly breadsticks and boring circular pretzels are clearly the straw and stick houses in this analogy. And, even though those zesty bagel chips can usually be a crowd pleaser, I have always felt that the true beauty of Chex Mix lies in the Chex themselves, and their flawless evolution from breakfast cereal to snack food.

But dammit, it’s 2014 and it appears Chex is finally ready to make moves in the snack department sans its slightly less enticing compadres, and the beautiful result is Chex Chips.

Let’s be honest, when I first saw this new snack at my local 7-Eleven (in the following four flavors: Caramelized Onion, Cinnamon and Sugar, Cheddar Jalapeno, and Wasabi) I had a few questions. How can my familiar Chex cereal pieces be transformed into a chip? How big are we talking here? Did I really ever want my Chex to taste like wasabi?

Scouring the front packaging for details, I was provided with only the following description, beneath the large printed Chex Chips logo:

“GIANT CHIPS. NO MIX.”

Chex Chips Size

Personally, I take the purposeful capitalization of these two short, direct sentences as a sign that this text should probably be read in the brutish voice of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. And, like The Rock himself, Chex Chips similarly appear to be significantly roided-up. Upon opening the bag, the texture of Chex Chips is a wonderfully effective hybrid somewhere between the puffiness of Bugles and the crispiness of the late (and well missed) Doritos 3D. Much less flimsy than their breakfast cereal brethren, these giant Chex seemed perfect for transporting each specific delicious flavor.

Let’s break it all down.

Chex Chips in Bowls

First, I began with the Caramelized Onion flavor. Yeah that’s right, caramelized onion. Did Bobby Flay whip these gourmet creations up on Iron Chef? Probably. Can you serve these at your next fancy gala or museum opening? Probably. Does a caramelized onion simply mean a cooked, browned onion? Probably. Was the name of this flavor an attempt to hide that fact they basically taste just like a sour cream and onion flavor minus the sour cream? Probably. Were they still shamelessly delicious? … Yes.

Next, I moved onto the Cinnamon and Sugar variety because, well, I like both of those things. Ignoring the fact that the pile of sugar with accompanying tubes of cinnamon displayed on the front of this bag look suspiciously like someone is ready for an 80s cocaine binge, this may have been my favorite flavor of the bunch and I strongly recommend it. Allow me to consider the reasons: They tasted like delicious churros. I like delicious churros. I liked this flavor. If you like delicious Churros you will also like this flavor. (See… it all adds up)

Moving along, I next tried the Cheddar Jalapeño flavor. Already pleased with the previous two flavors, I was not surprised when this variety blew my idiomatic pants off. Underneath its delightfully fiery kick; there is an impressive amount of real flavor. I’m a bit tired of the recent trend of using heat as a shield to cover up lousy taste, so it’s a welcomed surprise when spicy flavors such as this benefit from a good combination of the two.

Finally, this left me with the flavor that I had largely been anticipating, Wasabi. It has always surprised me that, despite the already established and steadily growing popularity of sushi restaurants, wasabi has made very few permanent appearances in American mainstream snack foods. Sure it might pop up as limited edition flavor, like sriracha, but it seems there are very few consistent outlets for this flavor. And, truthfully, it’s a shame. Yet, the taste of these Chex Chips have captured an essential part of what makes wasabi such a popular condiment; that perfect combination of spiciness and distinct flavor. I hope these chips stick around because they are impressively good.

In fact, Chex Chips as a whole are all surprisingly the crème de la crème of the usual 7-Eleven pickins’, and my hopes for the longevity of the Wasabi flavor spreads to Chex Chips as a whole.

(Now, I just want to see those bagel chips get the right idea and go solo too).

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pouch – Caramelized Onion – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein Cinnamon and Sugar – 200 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Cheddar Jalapeno – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 380 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Wasabi – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 320 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Chex Chips (Caramelized Onion, Cinnamon and Sugar, Cheddar Jalapeño, and Wasabi)
Purchased Price: $1.49 each
Size: 42 gram bag
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Caramelized Onion)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Cinnamon and Sugar)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Cheddar Jalapeño)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Wasabi)
Pros: The chips themselves were way tastier than I had anticipated. Large portion size. Interesting variety.
Cons: I have only seen them that one time I was at the 7-Eleven at two in the morning and I knocked over a gallon of milk and the store clerk looked at me funny and now I don’t want to go back there even during the day when he probably doesn’t even have a shift.

REVIEW: Post Burstin’ Berry Poppin’ Pebbles Cereal

Post Poppin' Pebbles Burstin' Berry

A little carbonation never hurt nobody.

Except the Fizzy Lifting Drinks. Avoid that stuff like the plague.

Earlier this month, Post cereals released their new Burstin’ Berry Poppin’ Pebbles cereal, a carbonated variant of Fruity Pebbles. In addition to berry-flavored crisped rice, Poppin’ Pebbles contains green cereal puffs mixed with carbon dioxide gas, which react upon contact with saliva to create a popping sensation reminiscent of Pop Rocks.

Let’s be perfectly clear — this isn’t the first time a popping concept has been applied to cereal. Back in 2000, Quaker released Mystery Volcano Crunch, a Cap’n Crunch cereal featuring “Lava Rocks” that popped when combined with milk. (Taking other people’s ideas, Post? I never expected you to stoop to Carlos Mencia’s level.)

The Burstin’ Berry Poppin’ Pebbles cereal box fails to mention any specific berry flavor. So which berry is it? The ingredients list provides no clues. It could be any of them: blueberry, strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, cranberry, Halle Berry, etc. It seems Post opted simply for “generic berry”.

Opening the box releases a pungent aroma similar to a berry-flavored yogurt with an added candy-like sweetness. The scent is rather off-putting; the berry flavoring smells unappealingly artificial.

The Poppin’ Pebbles cereal base is different in both appearance and taste when compared to normal Fruity Pebbles.

Post Poppin' Pebbles Burstin' Berry Closeup

Following the berry theme, Poppin’ Pebbles features a mix of red, pink, and indigo crisped rice grains, whereas the normal Fruity Pebbles cereal contains a more standard distribution of the colors of the rainbow.

As far as I can tell, each Poppin’ Pebbles grain possesses the same berry flavor. The cereal’s overall flavor matches its scent, but is not as overpowering as the aroma would suggest. The candy-esque berry flavor does indeed seem unnatural, almost like a powdered berry flavor à la Fun Dip and Pixy Stix. Nevertheless, it’s bearable. The actual grainy flavor of the crisped rice is masked almost entirely, showing up only slightly at the end of a mouthful. All things considered, I much prefer the fruity flavor of normal Fruity Pebbles.

Post Poppin' Pebbles Burstin' Berry Poppin

It was time to experience the carbonated cereal puffs. As I lifted my spoon and slowly proceeded to chew, my tongue began to experience the popping sensation mentioned on the box. Oh my god, can this kill me? My life’s flashing before my eyes. First Little Mikey, and now me! I see the light! No, I’m too young to die! I haven’t even tried McSpaghetti yet!

Well, my panic was unjustified — the Poppin’ Pebbles didn’t actually kill me. In fact, the popping was less intense than I had expected. Though the fizzing is audible and can be felt very slightly on the tongue, the sensation is nowhere near as extreme as a handful of Pop Rocks. Adrenaline junkies will surely be disappointed.

Unfortunately, the carbonated cereal puffs have a strange sort of flavor and texture. They possess a more candy-like stiffness than a standard cereal puff, and feature the aforementioned powdery berry flavor, albeit at a much stronger intensity and sweetness. I suppose it’s difficult to carbonate a cereal puff and have its flavor and texture profiles remain unchanged, but these Poppin’ Pebbles cereal puffs really disappoint.

Next, I tried Poppin’ Pebbles with milk. To my surprise, I didn’t notice any more popping than I would expect from a standard crisped rice cereal such as Rice Krispies. The carbonated cereal puffs maintain their ability to pop and fizz when chewed even after being soaked with milk, which leads me to believe some sort of candy coating protects their carbonated interiors.

Even so, Burstin’ Berry Poppin’ Pebbles are worsened by the addition of milk for one reason alone: the milk absorbs the artificial berry flavor of the cereal and helps amplify its unnatural qualities. For this reason, I can only recommend eating Poppin’ Pebbles dry.

Post’s new Burstin Berry Poppin’ Pebbles cereal is little more than a gimmick. The carbonated cereal puffs add an interesting, uncommon textural element to each spoonful, but the cereal’s artificial berry flavor really detracts from the experience. It feels more like I’m eating a bowl of candy than a breakfast cereal. Perhaps a more intense popping and fizzing could have compensated for the cereal’s flaws. Next time, I’ll stick with the berries I know and love: Franken, Chuck, and Manilow.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup (cereal only) – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 20 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, 16 grams of other carbohydrate, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Post Burstin’ Berry Poppin’ Pebbles Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: 12 oz. box
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Cereal puffs pop and fizz. Maintains pop even in milk. Halle Berry.
Cons: Candy-like berry flavor is off-putting. Gross in milk. Carlos Mencia.