You may be asking: Why in all the magical golden coins of Super Mario would I want to buy two bowls of portable oatmeal with some mix-ins?
Well, that just brings up a slew of other questions: Why fry a Snickers? Why make your own piñata? Why learn to surf in a pool of whale sharks? Why, in fact, should you do anything? I’ll tell you why: because you are a great human. You want to reach higher. To be all you can be. To walk into work not only with your shoes on the right feet, but with a little kick that says “I am a great human and I am here to change the world.” And how, with a 1:30 bedtime and a 4:30 wake-up call, can you have the consciousness to do that?
Preparing to fully bank on this need for early morning sustenance, Special K’s kicked out this new line of oatmeal so you can microwave a bowl of whole grains in your office, dorm, or as you brush your hair before dashing out the door, spooning mouthfuls as you swerve through the 7:30 traffic, without even grabbing a bowl. And this spurs the next question: Is it worth it?
On first glance, I figured there’s nothing revolutionary going on here. It’s just a mushy, but oddly comforting bowl of cooked oats, right? Oh how wrong I was. Underneath the goopy exterior rests an amalgam of grains that stretches the vocabulary of Kansas agriculture: there’s oats, some wheat, barley, and even quinoa, which I appreciate because it has a “Q” in it. Q words are so hard to come by these days.
While there were four grains in there, the sweet, malty oats still stand at the forefront of flavor. I was quite pleased that Special K opted for whole oats rather than the puny chopped up instant ones, which often make me feel underappreciated and begging for more like a character in a Dickens novel.
The accompanying mix-ins include two packets of toasted almonds, which, while a bit flavorless in their unsalted way, serve as quality crunch nubbins, and the separated dual packets of almonds allowed me to plop one segment in the top half of the oatmeal while saving some for the bottom, thus preventing Boring Bottom Half of Oatmeal Syndrome.
Unfortunately, there’s no actual maple syrup involved here. Instead, the oatmeal is swirled with what I imagine are little dehydrated maple crystals that, when looked at under a microscope, might be mistaken for those frightening rhinestones people put on their cell phones that blind you on a sunny day. While the maple bits add a nice smell of maple to the air, the sugar-y-ness of maple is subdued after preparation, but let’s face it: dehydrated maple bits are no substitute for the Grade-B Vermont liquid gold.
Otherwise, this is pretty successful in that straightforward, no frills way, even if there were only two bowls. The almonds stay fresh in their little compartments and the single serving allows me to stuff the bowl in my bag in the morning while running out the door. It can be prepared in the microwave or, if you wanna get fancy, the bowl provides directions for steeping.
As with all microwave oatmeal, you can whip it up with your liquid of choice, be it water, milk, coffee (and excellent choice), or, depending on the time of day and your mood, maple syrup’s best friend: bourbon. If you’re passing by a McDonald’s or keep a slab of pork belly in your employer’s mini fridge (not that I do…), a side of crispy bacon would make an excellent pairing.
As fall whisks its merciless wind through the tethers of my flimsy cardigan, this oatmeal seems perfectly timed. It’s warm, hearty brain food that I can grab on the way out the door. I don’t see myself buying this all the time, but it makes me feel cozy enough to wear footie pajamas to work. In fact, perhaps I will! Tomorrow! If you see me in my footie pajamas on the subway, know that I am not committing an act of defiance. It is merely a symptom of being filled with hot cereal.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 container– 190 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 170 milligrams of potassium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 5 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugars, and 8 grams of protein.)
Item: Special K Nourish Maple Brown Sugar Crunch Hot Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.78
Size: 2 pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: No frills. Easy to prepare. Big whole oats. Crunchy almonds. Magically dissolving maple-y bits. Slabs of pork belly. The option of preparing with bourbon. Making a piñata. Wearing footie pajamas to work.
Cons: Only 2 bowls. No actual maple syrup. 4:30 wake-up calls. Feeling like a character in a Dickens novel. Endangered “Q” words. Being blinded by cell phone bling.