REVIEW: Reese’s Puffs Cluster Crunch Cereal

Reese s Puffs Cluster Crunch Cereal Box

Hmm. Where do I start? I want to be excited about a new Reese’s Puffs cereal, especially one that switches up the shape and doesn’t just supersize it for reasons I don’t fully understand (Big Puffs) or have box art featuring a musician I’ve only vaguely heard of (no offense, Lil Yachty, that remote control cereal boat was pretty cool). I like when the spheres are seasonally swapped for bunny and bat shapes. Those both take a classically good cereal like Puffs and change it up in a fun way.

When I first saw the box of Reese’s Puffs Cluster Crunch, I couldn’t help but approach it with a bit of trepidation. The shapes looked familiar like the berry pieces in Trix or, more inauspiciously, the “clusters” in the largely disappointing Lucky Charms Marshmallow Clusters. I think I see where you’re going with this one, General Mills. We’re looking at Clusters Plan B, and it’s still not exactly working.

There’s definitely nothing wrong with this cereal in terms of taste. It’s actually quite good, assuming you’re a fan of Reese’s Puffs to begin with. The same strong Reese’s peanut butter smell is present when you open the bag, and as usual, there isn’t as much of a chocolate component as you might hope for, but I’d be lying if I said I’d ever really docked Puffs for lacking this. The peanut butter-colored and chocolate-colored pieces are interchangeably flavored as usual. The issue here is the wording.

Reese s Puffs Cluster Crunch Cereal Bowl

Picture this. You’re at the breakfast table with your cereal bowl in front of you, spoon in hand (or if you’re me, at your desk at four p.m. with no spoon and your hand just shoved inside the box. Kidding, I don’t have a desk). You’re about to go fishing in your bowl for a nice crunchy cluster, something that stands out from the other bites. I bet you’re envisioning something like a gob of flakes and oats and maybe pieces of nuts, all different textures and clumped together with the power of something sugary. Instead, you get…a few little rafts of aerated puffs that seem kind of like Rice Krispies but aren’t?

Reese s Puffs Cluster Crunch Cereal Puffs

I can’t even tell if these are more aerated than usual, and I cut several pieces in half to check. Even if they were, this would be more of an “extra puffed” and not exactly my definition of crunchy. In milk, they fare the same as the regular ones do, and I know this because I ate them both side by side on a fruitless quest to discover the difference.

Reese s Puffs Cluster Crunch Cereal Spoon

Reese s Puffs Cluster Crunch Cereal Split

This cereal is identical to Reese’s Puffs in every way, except instead of regular round pieces, there are “clusters” of smaller balls. But they’re stuck together from the get-go, and this doesn’t produce any significant difference in crunch. They do have more flavor powder on them, thanks to the little bumps and crevices, and eating them feels a little different because they aren’t a shape that my tongue is totally used to when it thinks it’s getting Reese’s Puffs.

I consider the original Puffs to be an 8 out of 10, and it seems unfair to rank this any lower because it’s exactly the same, but I think the name Cluster Crunch evokes an idea that the product doesn’t deliver on. If you like Reese’s Puffs, you should be happy with this cereal. If you’re hoping for a new and crunchy twist, this underwhelms.

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.9 oz box
Purchased at: Jewel-Osco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup without milk) 160 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of total sugars including 12 grams of added sugars), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: CinnaGraham Toast Crunch Cereal

CinnaGraham Toast Crunch Cereal Box

Fresh off the success of Apple Pie Toast Crunch, General Mills brings us another variant in the TC family, CinnaGraham Toast Crunch.

Hang on, IS this in the Toast Crunch family?

According to the front of the box, yes. According to me and the ingredients section of the Nutrition Facts, this is Golden Grahams’ kin. I guess the inclusion of cinnamon and the extreme popularity of Cinnamon Toast Crunch make marketing this as a TC spinoff the right call but let’s give Golden Grahams some credit! It’s an excellent cereal and deserves to crawl out from beneath the rug it’s been swept under long enough to introduce its sibling, CinnaGraham. Hi CinnaGraham, the pleasure is all mine.

I’m a big fan of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams and vastly prefer cinnamon graham crackers to regular (unless I’m making s’mores, in which case I prefer the traditional route because some things shouldn’t be messed with – get your peanut butter cups away from my campfire) so the announcement of this variety had me pretty excited.

CinnaGraham Toast Crunch Cereal Closeup

Opening the bag, I noticed the traditional cinnamon swirl on each square. But there is a darker appearance to these pieces, and the aroma is surprisingly deep and rich, smelling a whole lot like a cinnamon bun. I’m not sure if this is because I was expecting the pieces to taste closer to regular Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but I was bemused by how much these actually seemed texturally similar to graham crackers, both eaten plain and once doused in milk.

Comparing the ingredients, CinnaGraham uses corn meal where the original uses rice flour, and CG contains baking soda and brown sugar syrup. Golden Grahams also utilizes this corn meal, baking soda, and brown sugar syrup formula, which apparently does a great job mimicking graham crackers even though real graham crackers have no corn in them.

CinnaGraham Toast Crunch Cereal Dry

This cereal feels denser and richer than a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, even though the serving size and caloric content are the same. I think if I had any self-control, I’d be inclined to consume a smaller bowl of this just because it feels more indulgent and filling than the lighter rice flour type. It tastes like a bowl of dessert, and I could see that being too much for some people. Since I’ve already eaten half the box in the course of one session, I am clearly not one of those people.

The brown sugar/molasses notes really come through here and a hint of honey is present also, further reinforcing the graham cracker flavor. The cereal behaves in milk as your typical Toast Crunch or Golden Grahams would and it’s too tasty to eat slowly, so getting soggy isn’t an issue.

CinnaGraham Toast Crunch Cereal Milk

The milk left behind is a deeper shade than with your classic Cinnamon Toast Crunch and with a more intense flavor to match. I saw this as a positive and have really high praises for this cereal overall. I think General Mills aced both the texture and flavor profile, and I hope this stays on shelves because it’d definitely go into my regular rotation.

Purchased Price: $5.29 (This seems too expensive but is probably just because it’s new)
Size: 12 oz box
Purchased at: Jewel-Osco
Rating: 10 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup without milk) 170 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar including 12 grams of added sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold Ginger Ale

Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold Ginger Ale Cans

According to Canada Dry’s description, Canada Dry Bold is “Maybe the boldest ginger ale ever created.” I can verify this is false because (a) I once made my own ginger ale and didn’t strain the ginger out before drinking (I’m simultaneously ambitious and lazy), which made for a VERY bold beverage, and (b) Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold definitely hits me harder than the regular Bold did. The boldness of the homemade experiment was expected, but Vanilla Bean Bold surprised me.

It comes in a six-pack of 7.5 oz mini cans, which I don’t normally purchase because while adorable, it would take all six to equal the volume of soda I prefer to drink.

I cracked open my first tiny can and gave it a sniff. Initially, it didn’t seem like there was much there besides a slight cream soda smell, and taking a sip confirmed the cream soda vibe. I poured the rest into a Christmas-themed cup because this is a limited winter edition, after all, and this is when things got a bit more dramatic. I took a giant whiff and was startled by the amount of pepperiness in my nose.

Canada Dry Vanilla Bean Bold Ginger Ale Cup

If you drink this stuff in anything more than small doses, it really is significantly bolder than you expect out of Canada Dry and an upgrade on its first Bold attempt. If you were suffering from the kind of ailment that would typically have you reaching for ginger ale, I don’t know if you’d be pleasantly surprised that you can really taste this variety or irritated because you’re already unsettled and now someone’s gone and dumped wasabi in your cup.

The brown and cream can with its subtle twinkly design has a retro feel that makes sense with the cream soda and ginger ale flavors. These are things I’d drink during winter break visits to my grandparent’s house, which makes me feel like a kid. What makes me feel even more like a kid is the fact that I can’t stop sticking my whole face in the cup for the next big sinus-clearing inhale or taking overly large gulps to experience the spicy sensation in the back of my throat. It’s not just a drink. It’s fun. You could sip on this slowly for a more mature drinking experience, but why would you do that when you can take the more thrilling route? Go bold, people.

Canada Dry’s website makes no mention of Vanilla Bean Bold, but it does give you instructions on how to combine all of the other (non-reindeer) varieties with booze. I guess they see themselves as more of a mixer than a standalone drink? I mixed this with whiskey, which was perfectly acceptable, although it surprises me to say that I think I like it better on its own.

I am genuinely enjoying how this edition takes things a step further than Bold ever did. Is it possible that the addition of vanilla is what really gives this soda its spicy kick? Some types of vanilla beans have spicier notes, so perhaps there’s something about that in play here. There has to be very little actual vanilla bean or ginger in the formula, so I might be giving Canada Dry too much credit. But whatever they did, it works. The vanilla inclusion not only makes sense for the holidays but makes for a richer overall flavor. I don’t love it so much that I need it around all year, but it succeeds in bringing something new to the usual cranberry winter soda market.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: Six-pack of 7.5 fl oz cans
Purchased at: Jewel-Osco
Rating: 8 out of 10.
Nutrition Facts: (7.5 oz) 90 calories, 0 grams of fat, 30 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 22 grams of total sugars including 22 grams of added sugars, 0 grams of protein.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Reviewer Erin

Well this is exciting and slightly awkward. I get to introduce myself! Hello! My name is Erin, and I’m so bad at introductions that when they occur in person, whoever I’m meeting usually ends up thinking my name is Karen. I’m then faced with the difficult decision of correcting them or just pretending to be Karen for the rest of the time we know each other. Thankfully I’m a little better at writing than speaking, so that shouldn’t be a problem here.

For as long as I can remember of my thirtyish years on Earth, I’ve been obsessed with food, specifically snack food and its packaging. I’m the youngest child of a fairly large family, so growing up I did a lot of grocery shopping with my mom, spinning the Kool-Aid rack and scrutinizing the cereal section for the best prize. The grocery store is still one of my favorite places, and I spend an unnatural amount of time wandering the aisles and taking in what’s new and who’s updated their labels. I probably should have pursued a career in food marketing or writing or something, but instead, I wound up as a dog walker. The beauty of this is that it affords me the opportunity to work from 11 a.m to 3:30 p.m. and spend the rest of my time doing whatever I feel like, which is usually reading about new Pringles flavors.

I enjoy cooking and baking and do both frequently, but it’s still common to find me eating Kraft Dinner and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets once a week because that is a perfectly acceptable meal and not just for a five-year-old. I tend to give away most of what I bake because while homemade things are delicious, I also need to save room and calories for the next seasonal variety of peanut butter cups.

I was born on the East Coast, and both sides of my family are from the Coal Region of Pennsylvania. I’m strongly of the opinion that the best pretzels come from PA, and it was there that I learned to love Tastykakes and American cheese on pizza. It doesn’t belong on every pizza, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. If you do try it and choose to knock it an hour later when you’re still scraping cheese off your teeth, fair enough. I moved to Chicago about fifteen years ago, and it’s been home ever since. It’s a great city for food and a great city in general.

If you take me on a road trip, I’ll spend too long in every gas station making sure I’ve seen all the regional chip brands. I’m deeply disturbed by the closing of Long John Silver’s restaurants. I might be the only person that misses tan M&M’s. Sometimes I go through my kitchen cabinets and realize I’ve accidentally accumulated four pounds of Arby’s sauce packets. If these sound like qualities you enjoy in a person, I think we’ll get along great. As a long-time Impulsive Buy reader, I’m excited to have the chance to review and share my thoughts with this awesome community. Bring on the snacks!