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

Written by | January 27, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, 9 Rating, Chex, Chips

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.

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REVIEW: Post Burstin’ Berry Poppin’ Pebbles Cereal

Written by | January 9, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cereal, Pebbles, Post Cereals

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.

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REVIEW: General Mills Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch Cereal

Written by | January 8, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Cereal, Cheerios, General Mills

Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch Cereal

What the heck ever happened to dark chocolate?

One day the internet is inundated with stories touting how amazingly healthy it is, the next day dark chocolate has taken a back seat to quinoa, sustainable fish, and something called freekeh. One day it’s at the peak of its foodie popularity and then the next day it’s just another “Eh, it’s all right” treat, relegated to head scratching and “what ever happened to” questions. Dark chocolate might just be the Barry Foster of pseudo healthy food fads.

I think that’s a pretty pathetic fate and I refuse to acknowledge that the rich, deep sweetness of dark chocolate should languish as a one-and-done star of healthy food. And yes, I’m really forcing this healthy food point, mostly in self-justification of the copious amounts of they-might-have-been dark chocolate cookies I ate throughout the holidays.

Thankfully, Cheerios seems to be in complete accordance and has added to their Multi Grain Cheerios line the new Dark Chocolate Crunch.

Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch, aside from having a title longer than that of most dissertations, contains the usual mix of multi grain Cheerios, as well as chocolate drenched Cheerios and crunchy chocolate oat clusters. Based on a semester’s worth of dummy level college statistics and 3-4 exhaustive readings of various editions of Where’s Waldo?, I’ve inferred that approximately 31.2 percent of the Cheerios pieces are covered in the dark chocolate coating.

Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch Cereal Clusters

Dark is the operative word; these rings have a deeper, more natural cocoa flavor than the rings in Chocolate Cheerios, and are much less sweet. It’s as if the chocolate taste is baked into them, as opposed as just covering the surface. At first I was turned off by the sheer cocoa-ness of the pieces, but as I slowly plucked a few of the Os out to munch on, the dark and bittersweet flavor really grew on me. The problem, as far as I’m concerned, is the other 68.8 percent of the Cheerios. The usual multi grain Cheerios mix normally isn’t bad on its own, but it really conflicts with the dark chocolate rings, which lose their exotic and floral appeal amidst the mingling flavors of corn, wheat, and honey.

Similarly, my hopes for the chocolate clusters fell short of expectations, although not nearly as short as Cade Foster’s disastrous field goal attempt against Auburn. Unlike the excellent, asteroid-like clusters in Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch, the clusters in the Dark Chocolate Crunch occur less frequently in proportion with the other ingredients, and are too small to lack a definitive punch or crunch in a given spoonful.

Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch Cereal Wet

It’s a real shame because the little coal-like clusters have a very enjoyable chocolate flavor when eaten individually, and readily distribute cocoa powder and sugar into a bowl of milk. In that regard Dark Chocolate Crunch pull out a minor win amidst an otherwise disappointing showing, and are my favorite of the now three variations of Multi Grain Cheerios to have in milk.

But seriously, let’s get to the important stuff — mixology. But more specifically with Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter. I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is that those hoping for a veritable Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in cereal form will only find the slightest hint of rich chocolate and salty peanut butter and instead will taste mostly (wait for it) the corn bran and wheat aftertaste of Multi Grain Cheerios.

The good news is that there’s nothing stopping you from just chopping up a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup into your morning bowl, although I suppose that would detract a bit from the whole “dark chocolate is healthy” ethos. It’s sort of a Catch 22. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t do well with Catch 22s at the breakfast table.

If there’s one phrase that sums up the new Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch, it’s definitely “what might have been.” There are excellent elements at play between the deep dark chocolate flavor of the chocolate rings and the crunchy burst of sweetness provided by the clusters, but both occur too infrequently to give the cereal that indulgent chocolate taste we’re all looking for. Alas, if dark chocolate is to make its comeback in the world of all-the-rage food, it won’t be through cereal.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 125 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Multi Grain Cheerios Dark Chocolate Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12.1 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Chocolate Os taste stronger and darker than Chocolate Cheerios. Good sweetness and cocoa depth provided by the crunchy clusters. Healthy, as in not pseudo-healthy but actually good for you. Dissolves well in milk and creates tasty end-milk.
Cons: Not as good as some of the other new chocolate cereals. Aftertaste of the multi grain Os don’t work well with the cocoa taste. Not enough chocolate clusters to make a big impact. Didn’t create epic peanut butter and chocolate combination with Multi Grain Cheerios Peanut Butter.

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REVIEW: General Mills Chocolate Toast Crunch Cereal

Written by | December 31, 2013

Topics: 8 Rating, Cereal, General Mills

General Mills Chocolate Toast Crunch Cereal

Hear that? That’s the dead echo of all the New Year’s resolutions I’ve fulfilled.

Indeed, aside from taking a multi-vitamin, my plans for non-stop, full-throttle self-improvement don’t seem to always follow through, and what starts in January as, “I’m going to plant a window garden and read Plato’s The Republic and stop a forest fire with my mind!” translates in May to, “Maybe I’ll take out the trash. But it’s raining. So I’ll do it later. Maybe.” What is it that gets my bedraggled mind so trampled in this mellifluous maelstrom of mediocrity?

After decades of research, I have uncovered that its motion begins right here at the breakfast table. Yes, America, it is at this temple of Early Risers and Eager Minds, where caffeine, cholesterol, and morning cohesion come together to form a somewhat put-together portion of myself, and yet I’ve recently cast the breakfast table aside, trading it in for those five extra minutes of sleep before I hop out the door trying to put on my left shoe, looking as coordinated as an intoxicated platypus. But 2014’s a new year and I’m going fuel my brain with more than Nutri-Grain. Just in the nick of time, General Mills is handing out one more Big G cereal for 2013: Chocolate Toast Crunch.

General Mills Chocolate Toast Crunch Cereal The Chocolate Cereal Proposal

“Naturally flavored chocolate”? Hmmm… sounds shady. I can see we may be headed into precarious territory. We better put on our Danger Pants.

Danger Pants buckled and spoon in-hand, I burst open the bag and am met with a familiar scent. A scent of cocoa power and sugar and cereal-saturated chocolate milks of yore, whispering secrets of Cocoa Puffs into my nostalgia-seeking nose. While I’m a little freaked out that a cereal can whisper, I reach down shovel in the first spoonful.

Starting off on a solid foundation, I’m pleased to find that the texture of these 1/2-inch bites holds the same half-crispy, half-crunchy experience as its Crunch Toast counterparts. The surface of each 4-sided geometric shape is crosshatched with small ridges, allowing for an excellent play on texture while also making your bowl look like its filled with dollhouse-sized textured wallpaper samples.

General Mills Chocolate Toast Crunch Cereal Cocoa bits right out of the bag

Fortunately, these taste nothing of wallpaper. Living up to the old slogan, each shrunken bit of toast holds a thick, brown-tinged, sugary crust of “the taste you can see.” The pleasant grit from this cinnamon-cocoa sugar is like an edible hug: full of a cocoa burst and a slightly warm cinnamon end, it harkens back to memories of a cinnamon sugar doughnut, only thinner, crispier, and generously dunked in cocoa. The cocoa is of a lighter, alkali-processed sort. The bitterness from a darker, Dutch cocoa might have added a nice bitter, coffee-ish contrast to the sugar, but to nitpick over what could’ve been is about as useful as making a workout video for Santa Claus. (He has a “bowl full of jelly.” That’s just how it is. Says so in a poem.)

Not only do these crunchy wheat-and-rice bits prove themselves of high quality in their dry form, but they also hold up admirably when saturated with leche, the sugared cocoa generously dispersing itself as it colors the milk with its chocolatey, cerealy-ness while still leaving enough of the coating clinging to the cereal itself. The resulting milk brew has a cocoa level on par with Cocoa Puffs/Pebbles, yet the cereal’s shape is notably sturdier, allowing you to choose whether you want to slurp or spoon the last of your bowl. Either way, you’ll have cocoa to the final gulp.

And that reminds me: since the cocoa isn’t shy here, it has the power to play well with other flavors. Maybe try it with some almond milk, or, if you’re feeling zesty, reach for the strawberry milk or Espresso Gelato. It’s okay. Go wild. You have your Danger Pants on, remember?

General Mills Chocolate Toast Crunch Cereal The Taste You Can See!

On my list of things to improve in the world: diesel fuel, laptop speakers, standard-issue toilet paper. I never imagined cocoa cereal would or could be on this list, let alone that it may stand up against my all-time-favorite, discontinued-in-America Oreo O’s, and yet General Mills, being the daring lunatics they are, gave it their best heave-ho. While not surpassing the O’s, the risk paid off. It may not be the first time I’ve have cocoa for breakfast, but somehow the crunch of the wee little rectangles combined with the cinnamon-cocoa sugar reminds me of a churro and made this one of the more successful pairing of grains and chocolate I’ve had the fortune to scarf down. Some may call the General crazy for bringing out such a fantastic new Toast Crunch on the cusp of the New Year, but what is “crazy”?

Well, if these toasty squares have anything to do with it, it’s a different way to see ourselves, be ourselves, to go out and live in a new and exciting way, and these cocoa-cinnamon squares? They inspire me to do just that.

So, who’s crazy now?

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup (31 g) – 130 calories, 35 calories from fat, 4 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 85 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: General Mills Chocolate Toast Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12.7 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Crispy-crunchy. Nifty ridges. Crusty cocoa-cinnamon coating. Taste you can see. Churro in cereal form. Makes good chocolatey cereal milk. Encourages breakfast-related resolutions. Reason to eat more gelato. Brave lunatics. Danger Pants.
Cons: Reminds me how I miss Oreo O’s. Laptop speakers. Standard-issue toilet paper. Delusions of whispering cereal.

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REVIEW: Post Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch Cereal

Written by | December 30, 2013

Topics: 9 Rating, Cereal, Honey Bunches of Oats, Post Cereals

Post Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch Cereal

Because I’m not one myself, I can’t be absolutely certain what kind of cereal Power Rangers go shopping for. That being said, I’d imagine they’d probably be among the first to buy the new Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch.

Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch has all the nutritional components that allow Powers Rangers to summon Megazords and head-butt endless armies of Putty Patrollers. Each serving has important, energizing vitamins and minerals in addition to 2/3 of your daily dose of whole grains, not to mention six grams of protein to help fit into those slim-fit leotards for another busy morning battling a golden-armored lion people thing in the streets below Beverly Hills.

I won’t lie—that kind of energy supply is usually beyond the scope of what I look for in a cereal. Given that the most activity I get on an average morning comes from carefully timed strolls to the reception desk’s candy jar at the office, you might even say a cereal with 220 calories a serving is a bit overkill for someone who couldn’t execute a round-house kick in Mortal Kombat 3, much less morph into the Red Ranger.

Still, I’m not going to discriminate when it comes to adding chocolate to the hugely popular Honey Bunches of Oats line, especially since its been three or four years since Post pulled the plug on Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Chocolate Clusters, which before its discontinuation was one of my most loved “adult” cereals.

At first, I was skeptical. I may have loved the “real chocolate” clusters in the original chocolate rendition of Honey Bunches of Oats, but if there’s a synonym for “half-ass” in the cereal world, it might just be “chocolatey.”

At best the chocolatey pieces of partially hydrogenated oil and corn syrup in cereals like Special K Chocolatey Delight are a distraction; at worst, they’re enough to make Willy Wonka think about getting into the plastics industry. Styrofoamy, flat-tasting, and about as rich as the hobo you give your spare change to, those imitation squares of “chocolate” thankfully don’t show up in the new Chocolatey Almond Crunch flavor. Instead the tiny pieces of not-quite chocolate “chocolate” have a firm texture and semi-sweet flavor. It might not be Godiva or even Hershey’s quality, but for a cereal the substitute does the trick, even taking on an element of richness when eaten with whole milk.

Post Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch Cereal Wet

The small “chocolatey” bricks are only a supporting element to the cereal, however, which brings together the classic, slightly malty honeyed glaze of whole grain flakes with the superior crunch of oat clusters the size of asteroids. And yes, these free-falling bricks of cocoa powder and toasted oats are definitely asteroid like. I encountered several large clusters in a random pour, and enjoyed the distinctive crunch and deep cocoa powder flavor both with and without milk.

Post Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch Cereal Dry

There’s a brown sugar taste to them, but the cocoa powder is what dominates, blending in smoothly with the buttery anise undertones of slivered almonds. In that respect, the cereal reminded me a lot of Fiber One’s Nutty Clusters & Almonds, except with a much pronounced and irregularly shaped cluster and a cocoa flavor. Bits of crisped rice, barley, and wheat germ make an appearance as well, giving each spoonful a slightly exotic and toasted multigrain note that balances the 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Clearly, I’m very high on this cereal, although not nearly as high as Bulk and Skull were on a regular basis during the first three seasons of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Not only does the Morning Energy variety pack more cocoa and chocolate flavor than the old Honey Bunches of Oats with Real Chocolate Clusters, but they have a seriously “mealtime” feel to them which actually backs up the overt nutritional marketing ploys.

That being the case, you’ve been warned; as a granola-type cereal, there’s definitely a health halo involved here. Before I knew it I had munched my way through half a box, and all I had to show for this supposed influx of energy was three trips to the office candy jar and not a single withering Putty Patroller to my name. Still, I figure cereal sales can’t be upheld by a band of five ridiculously good-looking multicultural karate experts and faux superheroes.

So even though I may not be actively stopping the imminent takeover of the planet earth by Rita Repulsa, I like to think my newfound brand loyalty to the Morning Energy line might just keep Post from discontinuing their Chocolatey Almond Crunch flavor, thus ensuring that when future generations of Power Rangers head to the supermarket, they won’t be made to settle for the empty sugar crashes inspired by all the usual suspects.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 220 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 150 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams potassium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 5 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and 6 grams of protein.)

Item: Post Honey Bunches of Oats Morning Energy Chocolatey Almond Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 12.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Great “meal” cereal. Classic Honey Bunches of Oats taste with malted cocoa and chocolate flavor. Oat clusters the size of asteroids. Buttery almonds. Actually enjoyable multigrain element. Actively supporting your local Power Rangers.
Cons: “Granola” effect kills health appeal. Chocolate pieces still not as good as actual chocolate chips. Searching for Bulk and Skull on YouTube.

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