Purchased Price: $1.00 each Size: 5.3 oz. cup Purchased at: Safeway Rating: 8 out of 10 (Splendid Strawberry) Rating: 7 out of 10 (Blueberry Bliss) Rating: 8 out of 10 (Luscious Lemon) Pros: Fruit mousse is light and creamy. Strawberry and blueberry have authentic fruit flavor and ingredients.. Lemon is very tart – could eat a whole cup of mousse alone. Mousse and yogurt textures work well together. Mousse-to-yogurt ratio is just right. Cons: Shape of cup can make getting mousse and yogurt in the same scoop difficult. Yogurt is bland without mousse. Blueberry mousse has a less strong flavor that makes it pedestrian with the plain yogurt. Lemon may be too tart for some.
Nutrition Facts:Splendid Strawberry – 140 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 15% calcium. Blueberry Bliss – 140 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 15% calcium. Luscious Lemon – 150 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, and 15% calcium.
When I think of potential names for artisanal, fancy-pants yogurt from Europe, I tend to think along the lines of classical homages to the aesthetic height of the Greek and Roman Republics. At least that’s what I imagine all those Voskos, Oikos and Fage brand represent. That, or some kind of pathetic European attempt to get a laugh out of my unrefined American accent.
The last name I’d expect from a fancy-pants European import brand of yogurt would be “Müller,” which mostly just sounds like the name I’d give a German Shepard or the big Nazi guy Indiana Jones beats the snot out of in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
These preconceived and potentially disastrous connotations notwithstanding, I tried to keep an open mind when sampling the new Müller “Corner” yogurts, which have invaded the Northeast United States with the kind of cross-continental fury not scene since the Soviets overtook us in the 1980s (and soon to be remade) cult classic, Red Dawn.
Thankfully, Müller isn’t coming to invade our high school footballs fields and disrupt our way of life. That is, unless eating candy within your yogurt is considered a threat to the American way of life, in which case you’re screwed. Sorry about that. As for the rest of us, the flavors of candy and crunchy mix-ins for Müller’s lowfat and Greek “Corner” varieties are pretty intriguing, especially if you’re looking for something different from granola or Oreos crumbs. I picked up three of these — including one Greek flavor — to try out.
Choco Balls comes with lowfat vanilla yogurt with a side of chocolate covered crispy rice. Right off the bat, I’m not impressed with the title. Maybe it’s that eighth grade sense of humor that never quite left me, but I tend to laugh when saying “balls.” Anyhoo, the balls clearly are quite small, dwarfed by the impressive artwork seen on the package. They have a nice crisp texture though, like little morsels of Nestle Crunch covered in an M&M coating. I liked them, but thought they were better off without the yogurt, which basically tasted like every overly sweet vanilla yogurt I’ve ever had. I would have liked a more assertive crunch and chocolate flavor to have countered the yogurt, and perhaps something a little less sugary. Mind you, this is coming from the guy who finds Froot Loops to be a bit sour.
Choco Flakes didn’t make me giggle like Choco Balls, but it did satisfy my appetite more than the latter. Featuring chocolate covered corn flakes, the flavor mix-in is everything Cocoa Krispies aspires to be. The chocolate coating is surprisingly rich and bittersweet, creating a wonderful contrast to the crispy flake underneath.
The downside is, again, the yogurt itself. It tastes far too sweet and doesn’t do anything to convince me that German cows are some how superior to our own (never minding the fact that Müller yogurt is produced in Batavia, New York.)
MY favorite of the three flavors I sampled was the Greek Corner with Caramelized Almonds. The almonds are just the right size, with a crunchy balance of sweet and buttery almond flavor to compliment the yogurt. Because the yogurt is plain flavored Greek yogurt the combination wasn’t as cloying as the regular yogurt flavors I tried, but was familiar enough in the contrast of textures and flavor that it more than hit the spot. With 13 grams of protein it actually even felt kind of healthy.
My biggest gripe with the Müller yogurt is the size and price. No doubt some of the flavor mix ins are good, but retailing for $1.25 each at my local Safeway, they’re a few coins more than the familiar YoCrunch yogurts featuring M&Ms, Butterfingers, and Oreos. Likewise, YoCrunch yogurts don’t come with the eerie looking Quaker man, who thanks to his new brand of yogurt, should probably be referred to as Mr. Müller. My suggestions? If you’re looking for a little bit of a different twist to your regular yogurt excursion and don’t mind something more than a little sweet, go to town on these. Despite the name, they’re not bad at all.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 container – Choco Balls – 210 calories, 25 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, 9 grams of protein, and 20% calcium. Choco Flakes – 220 calories, 25 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, and 20% calcium. Greek with Caramelized Almonds – 220 calories, 35 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, and 20% calcium.)
Item: Quaker Müller Corner Yogurt (Choco Balls and Choco Flakes) and Quaker Müller Greek Corner Yogurt (Caramelized Almonds) Purchased Price: $1.25 (on sale) Size: 1 container/ 150 grams Purchased at: Safeway Rating: 5 out of 10 (Lowfat with Choco Balls) Rating: 7 out of 10 (Lowfat with Choco Flakes) Rating: 8 out of 10 (Greek with Caramelized Almonds) Pros: Real chocolate covered corn flakes. Creamy yogurt. Eating candy in my yogurt. Caramelized almonds have great crunch and buttery sweetness. Red Dawn references. Cons: Lowfat yogurt is too sweet. Choco Balls would be better if each ball was chocolate. A bit pricey and small. Buying yogurt from Mr. Müller the creepy Quaker guy.
There’s something a bit surreal about eating breakfast food patterned after an entirely different breakfast food, isn’t there? I don’t want to get overly zen, but it’s like saying, “I enjoy this food enough to want to duplicate its taste, but do you have a slower, less convenient way of eating it?”
We all know cereal is awesome, but you can’t eat it one handed while changing lanes, shifting gears, adjusting the radio, balancing coffee in your lap, and flipping off some moron who’s trying to do too many things at once. And if you can, please cease driving along the PA/NJ border between the hours of 8:30-9:00 every morning.
Nonetheless, Her Majesty’s honorable Captain Horatio Soggybane Crunchley has decided to give it a go, so here we are. If you’re like me, your first thought was, “Did they try to make the pieces look like mini cinnamon rolls? Or will they resemble the jagged Cap’n Crunch bits we all know and some of us love?” The surprising answer is “neither” — these are just little asymmetrical balls, about the size of a Cocoa Puff. No biggie, but it’s slightly puzzling why they didn’t just use the standard CC shape (and for that matter, why they don’t do the same for Peanut Butter Crunch). Either way, it doesn’t impact the taste, and I suppose these are less likely to irritate those with more sensitive palates.
The packaging is fairly typical fare, with the Cap’n holding up a cinnamon roll with wisps of aroma lines that let us know, damn, this fictional drawing of a breakfast pastry smells good. In keeping with the theme, the back has two pictures of a bakery scene, inviting you to find ten differences between them. (I got nine without checking the answers — let me just offer that two of them are such incredibly subtle differences, they make Where’s Waldo look like a child’s search n’ find.) The answer key is on the bottom of the box, though this isn’t clarified anywhere on the package. I guess they figure anyone not smart enough to figure it out isn’t going to be wasting their time with the puzzle anyway.
Continuing on, one side panel boasts the standard nutritional information, the other links to the Cap’n’s website, Facebook page, and Twitter account. Maybe I’m just an old fuddy duddy, but I’m not sure I really want to know that the Cap’n’s current relationship status is “My life, my love and my lady is the Sea” or what he’s hashtagging these days. Although if Quaker Oats just turns the Twitter feed over to some wiseass intern and lets him run with it, I can see the potential for comedic goodness. “Hey, remember when I met Spider-Man? How freaking stoned was whoever dreamed that up? #FourTwenty” or “Avast, y u no like crunchness, Soggmeister? 🙁 ”
I’m realizing we’re four paragraphs in and I haven’t touched on the flavor, so let’s fix that. As you’d expect, these don’t taste exactly like cinnamon rolls, or much like them at all really. In the movie version, the most they’ll be legally allowed to put on screen will be “loosely inspired by.” But they still taste quite good, as I sit here eating dry pieces out of the box, unable to stop myself from reaching for more. There’s a definite cinnamon flavor, though far subtler than you’d find in an actual cinnamon roll. They’re crunchy but not nearly as much so as regular Cap’n Crunch, possibly due to the shape. And if you were hoping for any kind of a frosting drizzle, keep looking. But the smell, while understated, is sugary and appealing.
You know what cereal they vaguely remind me of? The late, much lamented (by me) Waffle Crisp. The texture is a little different, not quite as hard, but they have the same initial burst of sweetness with a maple syrup-y taste. The major difference is that these (obviously) also feature cinnamon, but again, it’s a lot less intense than you’d expect, nowhere near what you’d get from, say, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Which, since we’re addressing the elephant in the room, is still the preferred cinnamon-based breakfast cereal, due to being far more aggressive and flakier. In this case at least, baker comes out on top of seaman. And alas, the good captain’s boast that his cereal doesn’t get soggy in milk is about as credible as his tale of once making it with a mermaid.
But don’t let that steer you away from trying Cap’n Crunch’s Cinnamon Roll Crunch. It’s still a good-tasting cereal that’s worth trying at least once. And since it’s almost certainly for a limited time only, once might be all you get, so hoist the mizzenmast and make for the nearest port immediately.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat 0 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, 10 grams of other carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein)
Item: Cap’n Crunch’s Cinnamon Roll Crunch Purchased Price: $3.79 Size: 10.3 ounces Purchased at: Giant Rating: 7 out of 10 Pros: Tastes kind of like Waffle Crisp. Back-of-the-box activities that actually make you work. Crunchy, and sweet but not overly so. Successfully resisting a poop deck joke. Good for dry snacking. What I imagine the Cap’n’s Twitter feed to be like. Cons: Less interesting shape than normal CC. Cinnamon taste a little subtle. Gets soggy. Makes you crave an actual cinnamon roll. What the Cap’n’s Twitter feed is probably actually like.
Well, at least that’s what Wilfred Brimley and the guy who yells at fat people on NBC tell me. But just like wholesome Amish kids during rumspringa, oatmeal can get wild, crazy, and do unhealthy things as well.
For example, instead of using skim milk or water to make my oatmeal, I use melted ice cream and then top that with crushed Heath candy bar pieces, Hershey chocolate syrup. a small bag of M&M’s, and half a container of Cool Whip.
That sounds totally diabeteeriffic!
I can corrupt oatmeal to the point where you would have to start calling it ho-meal. But it appears Quaker has done the corrupting for me with their new chocolate chip instant oatmeal.
Okay, they haven’t really done any corrupting because there aren’t many semisweet chocolate chips in each instant oatmeal packet.
If you’d like to teach your child how to count using the chocolate chips in each packet, you’re going to have to open a number of packets to equal the level of learning your child will get from watching an episode of Sesame Street, because each one contains four or five chocolate chips. And they’re not big chocolate chips. They make the oats in each packet look bigger than they really are.
I made a bowl of Quaker Chocolate Chip Instant Oatmeal using vanilla soy milk and another using filtered water. Using filtered water is healthier, but using vanilla soy milk makes it taste better. But if you read on, that’s not saying much.
The chocolate chips take awhile to melt, and after they do, the oatmeal looks chocolatey. As you can see above, the liquid looks like the milk at the bottom of the bowl after eating Cocoa Puffs, but that liquid is a liar.
A dirty stinkin’ liar!
The chocolate flavor is almost non-existent. It has less flavor than the other Quaker flavored instant oatmeal varieties I’ve had. I wish Quaker had put a little hot cocoa powder in their Chocolate Chip Instant Oatmeal to make things tolerable. So it looks like, in order to get through the rest of the box, I’m going to have to make this oatmeal tolerable on my own with some cocoa power, semisweet chocolate chips, M&M’s, crushed Oreo cookies, Hershey’s chocolate syrup, chocolate sprinkles, crushed Butterfinger candy pieces, Hershey’s Kisses, and melted HÃ¤agen-Dazs chocolate ice cream.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 packet – 130 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 16 grams of other carbohydrates, and 3 grams of protein.)
Item: Quaker Chocolate Chip Instant Oatmeal Price: $3.29 Size: 10 packets/1.23 ounces each Purchased at: Target Rating: 4 out of 10 Pros: Quick to make. Good source of whole grains. Rumspringa. Sesame Street. Decent source of fiber. Low in fat. Cons: Really faint chocolate flavor. Really small chocolate chips. Not many chocolate chips in each packet. The liquid in the oatmeal is a liar, a dirty stinkin’ liar! Using the chocolate chips to teach your child to count won’t get him or her very far unless you open several packets.
St. Patrickâ€™s Day is almost upon us, and Iâ€™ve chosen to take the fast food company approach to celebrating. As long as itâ€™s a nice, radioactive shade of artificial green and itâ€™s edible, itâ€™s holiday appropriate. This brings us to Quakerâ€™s Chocolatey Mint Granola Bar, one of the new, real cocoa-laden entries into its Chewy line of snackables. It contains eight grams of magical whole grains and absolutely none of that banshee HFCS.
In the past Iâ€™ve found that the only thing at the end of granola rainbows is a very dry mouthâ€¦ and sometimes, if Iâ€™m really Irish-level lucky, honey or berries. Quaker, however, has always taken the concept in a very rice-puffed, kid-friendly direction. Chewy bars arenâ€™t meant to see much non-paved wilderness action or to blend serendipitously with Kombucha. These are the snacks that litter the ground below the granola rainbow. That is why I chose them for St. Patrickâ€™s Day instead of Earth Day. For Earth Day, theyâ€™d have to ramp it up about a thousand notches, maybe add some actual clover.
The bar itself imparts little to no flavor beyond a whispered hint of cocoa. Itâ€™s basically just a whole grain home for the wee little flavor chips, which are left to do all the heavy lifting. While delicious, theyâ€™re constantly falling off the bar and finding places to melt at bizarrely low temperatures, so that by the last bite, Iâ€™m left with green spotted pants and a bland rolled oat has-been bragging about a cacao tree it once knew.
“Like hell,” I say. “Little cocoa bar, youâ€™ve no more rubbed elbows with Brazilian beans than youâ€™ve hung out on the cliffs of Moher in the late evening mist, pining for your lost love, Little Debbie.”
If that isnâ€™t a woeful pub ballad in the making, I donâ€™t know what is. Iâ€™m pretty sure Iâ€™m like three green beers away from penning the defining junk food anthem here. Shall we make it two?
In response to my disbelief and persistent need to make this culinary experience all about me, the chewy bar drops several more mint chips onto the carpet in my living room.
Turns out my fridge contains no green beer. My options are Belgian ale or week old two buck chuck with green food coloring. Both seem like fitting choices for this completely non-Irish snack. I graduated from a college that celebrates St. Patrickâ€™s Day two weeks earlier than the rest of the world and, honestly, Iâ€™m not even slightly Irish, so I feel neither compelled nor qualified to include anything authentic in my holiday choices. I need a shirt that says, “Kiss me for my minty breath and do not question my heritage.”
Now, if youâ€™ll excuse, Iâ€™m going to get back to writing that soon-to-be-beloved folk ditty. Oh, chewy bar, my taste buds they are call-ingâ€¦
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 bar â€“ 90 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein, 8% calcium, and 4% iron. Not a significant source of any vitamins whatsoever.)
Item: Quaker Chewy Chocolatey Mint Granola Bars Price: 3/$5.00 (on sale) Size: 10 – .84 ounce bars Purchased at: Albertsonâ€™s Rating: 5 out of 10 Pros: Yummy mint chips liberally sprinkled about. Inspires me to write folk ballads. Pairs well with festive spirits. Unguarded pots of honey and berries. Minty fresh breath. Cons: Lacks hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons. Chocolate bar is a tasteless brick. One must eat multiple bars to equal even a child-sized breakfast. Unrequited snack food love.