REVIEW: Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cereal (Roasted Nut & Honey O’s and Golden Honey Nut Flakes)

Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Cereal

I basically picked up the two new varieties of Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut cereal (Roasted Nut & Honey O’s and Golden Honey Nut Flakes) because the boxes just made Kellogg’s seem so desperate. I figured that, based on the rebate offer covering half the front of the Golden Honey Nut Flakes box and the large coupon plastered on the side of both varieties, these things had to be either the best kept secret in the whole flippin’ breakfast aisle or some sort of unmentionable abomination created by the CEO’s nephew. As usual, my curiosity outweighed my gnawing suspicions. I still have my qualms about Kellogg’s calling the peanut-bedazzled cereals “nutty” and not “legumey”, but I’m willing to let that rest. There are bigger fish to fry here. Honey-peanut-molasses fish.

I had heard next to nothing about these cereals until they practically jumped out at me from the shelves. Hell, the product website even failed to locate either variety within a thirty mile radius of my zip code for some odd reason. I have my theories on this simultaneous lack of marketing and desperate push for acceptance. Perhaps they’re a failed vehicle for some early-90’s kids TV show. I imagine them as rebranded Slappy the Squirrel cereals from a never realized Animaniacs spin-off concept, found in a repossessed storage locker somewhere, still sealed and intact thanks to scads of preservatives.

I think part of the problem is that both varieties taste so gimmicky-sweet, so inherently child-friendly. But where are the goofy characters — the tigers, toucans, and Quisps – with their insatiable draw and plush dolls for bar codes offer? Why isn’t there a maze on the back?

This isn’t your average adult cereal, either. There are no berries, no gourmet Georgia pecans, no multi-grain wholesomely fortified goji oat nuggets. Nowhere is heart health even mentioned. They don’t even tout the fact that the O’s are HFCS-free, though this is perhaps a ploy to keep us from noticing that the flakes conspicuously aren’t. In any case, real sugar, molasses, and honey take top billing. Aside from the vitamin additives, the ingredient list is fairly short and brimming with various states of run-of-the-mill ground corn (It’s okay to hate me for that one).

I expected to taste Corn Flakes and Cheerios, respectively, with peanuts stuck all over them. What I got was a Cracker Jack laden nostalgia trip back to lil’ lassie softball and family game nights past. Sadly, both cereals lacked a cheap prize to fight over and retrieve from mom’s hiding spot on top of the refrigerator in the middle of the night. On the bright side, I wasn’t picking little popcorn husks off my back teeth days later.

The O’s tasted both puffy and crispy, like coated rice cakes. They in no way actually resembled Cheerios. My brief disappointment gave way to delight when I introduced them to milk, however. The O’s stayed crunchy for a good while, unlike the flakes, which reached Soggyville far too soon.

I am easily distracted, especially in the mornings. I have a habit of pouring a bowl of cereal and then running off to put in forgotten contacts or hunt for sunglasses. I therefore require industrial levels of steadfast crunchiness. I’m always impressed when any cereal manages to hold up to my unreasonable standards. Eaten dry, the O’s taste a little bland, while the flakes become quite addictive, exactly like Cracker Jack.

At first, I wondered to myself why Cracker Jack doesn’t have a cereal line, and then, with horror, I thought maybe this was supposed to be that cereal line, once upon a time, possibly in the dot com era, back when anything was possible. If these cereals are, in fact, resurrected failures, they must’ve just been ignored by marketing people too entranced by their Tigers, because, beyond the identity crisis, both varieties are pretty gr-r-reat.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a one-way ticket to the mysterious Soggyville and the train is boarding.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – Golden Honey Nut Flakes – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 40 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein and a bunch of vitamins and minerals. Roasted Nut & Honey O’s – 100 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 25 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein and a bunch of vitamins and minerals.)

Item: Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Cereal (Roasted Nut & Honey O’s and Golden Honey Nut Flakes)
Price: $2.50 each (on sale)
Size: 10.8 ounces (Roasted Nut & Honey O’s)
Size: 14.1 ounces (Golden Honey Nut Flakes)
Purchased at: Albertson’s
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Roasted Nut & Honey O’s)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Golden Honey Nut Flakes)
Pros: Ever-crunchy rings. Slappy the Squirrel hawking cereal. Cracker Jack for breakfast. The early dot com era, when everything was possible. Very snack-worthy throughout the day. Fairly health-conscious choice for sweet cereal lovers. No popcorn husks.
Cons: No prize. Flakes seemed to have pre-booked their tickets to Soggyville. No mazes. Rings dependent on milk for maximum deliciousness. Rampant family game night cheating. No healthy nuggets. Decade-old Cracker Jacks for breakfast. No adorable mascot. Weird softball league groupings.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Superfruit Fusion Cherry Pomegranate

Nutri-Grain Cherry Pomegranate Superfruit Fusion Bars

Super powers come in varying degrees. You have your laser-breath and invisibility on one end of the spectrum, and on the other you’ve got typing 200 words per minute and psychically communicating with tropical birds. Where does Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Superfruit Fusion Cherry Pomegranate fit in? Well, it’s complicated.

From the front of the box, one would be led to believe that both fruits hold equal footing, a kind of dynamic duo of breakfast treats, but the text on the back of the package tells another story: “We’ve taken traditional fruit and blended it with superfruit flavors (bold text comes from them, not me).

It appears that ol’ cherry with its artful stem knotting and crude virginity joke inducing powers is being nudged slowly into retirement to make way for pomegranate which, according to certain rumor mills, possesses a hypnotic stare and an arsenal of secondhand batarangs. Cherry has gone all mellow and senile but the higher-ups aren’t about to can him outright because he has so much knowledge left to impart, including the passwords to all of the Nutrigrainland computers.

One taste of these snack bars and you’ll know it’s true. That little bit of an edge cherry used to have? Gone. In its place? Subdued, confidence-lacking pomegranate. And when their powers combine they form something in the same flavor family as a sugar-dulled cranberry.

Both flavors are threatened by the gooey machinations of the highly controversial Mad Dr. Corn Syrup. As usual, our heroes manage to persevere in spite of the odds. Unfortunately, it becomes impossible to taste the subtle flavors of truth, justice, and the American way with everything else going on.

Nutri-Grain Cherry Pomegranate Superfruit Fusion Bars Innards

As for the super whole grain, nutrient-fortified outer shell, which Kellogg’s is now calling a “crust”, well, Fortress of Solitude it is not. It’s actually much crumblier than the regular Nutri-Grain shell, but still soft enough to not actually feel like what I would traditionally consider a “crust”. It tastes like maybe they got a hold of some dried out Trader Joe’s Walks into a Bar shells and sprinkled wheat chafe on top. While tasty, the casing has a tendency to fall apart and crush everything inside with no regard for the distinctions of hero and villain. There’s definitely a gritty reboot of a lesson hidden somewhere deep within this breakfast.

So on the super spectrum this ranks right up there with Elastigirl’s stretchiness or Robin’s hand-me-down range of bat-gadgets. It’s a secondary hero of a breakfast food. I’d certainly trust it to get my cat out of a tree or discreetly spy on my neighbors, but if the world were ending at eight in the morning, I’d still either flash the Odwalla signal or phone up oatmeal.

Would I buy this again? Maybe if I found it on sale, otherwise I’d take a pass. While the super bars managed to make one morning way more compelling than usual, I’m just not sure how well they’d hold up to repeated breakfasting.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 130 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 15% vitamin A, 20% calcium, 20% Vitamin E, 25% Riboflavin, 25% Vitamin B6, 10% zinc, 20% vitamin C, 15% thiamin, 25% niacin, 10% folic acid, and 10% iron.)

Item: Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain Superfruit Fusion Cherry Pomegranate
Price: 2/$5.00 (on sale)
Size: 6 bars
Purchased at: Schnuck’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Laser breath in a battle situation. Pomegranate and cherry working in harmony to defeat evil. Nice jam texture. Yummy without overwhelming sweetness. On board with the whole grain fad. Tastes more naturally derived than regular Nutri-Grain bars.
Cons: Laser breath in a non-battle situation. The bird psychic end of the super spectrum. Outer crust makes for a terrible secret lair. Truth and justice flavors undetectable. Crumbs and wheat chafe. Verges on mundane. Not actually that much more “natural” than its non-super snack bar cousins. Unable to save the world.

REVIEW: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream

Dreyer's Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream

When the wind chill is thirty below and I’m at the grocery store, the last thing in the world that I want is for someone to steal my coat, but the next-to-last thing I want is ice cream, so winter specialty flavors meant nothing to me back in Illinois. Last week, however, while basking in a short-lived California heat wave, I felt drawn to a tub of Dreyer’s Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream.

Frankly, egg nog sounds like an obvious, even lazy flavor choice. The product itself is just slightly off-color, but not in an egg shell or cream kind of way. It’s more like evenly coated yellow snow, tinged with a creeping bit of fear and self-doubt.

The flavor isn’t overwhelmingly sweet, which I guess is the point of the whole Slow Churned line. Unlike some low-ish fat ice cream options, however, nothing about it tastes terribly off and the ingredients list hasn’t kept me awake at night.

If you’re like me or the five people I’ve discussed this with thus far, the only thing you’re probably concerned about is whether or not the nutmeg flavor is present. Calm down. It’s there. No extraneous nutmeg buying expenses required. Really, that’s three-quarters of the way to a quality egg nog product right there.

See? Minimal effort all the way.

I found I actually enjoyed the ice cream more once it had slightly melted, which basically only indicates that, yes, I like egg nog.

I won’t name any names, but I’ve witnessed the creation of chewable egg nog before, and it ain’t pretty. From that experience I learned that I prefer my egg nog to be a liquid, rather than a liquid and some solids strained through a 99 cent wicker cornucopia. Not that the end result tasted bad, but the process was still questionable. The main point here is that I wouldn’t have dreamed of eating those superfluous egg chunks, and while the ice cream does not share the same troubling texture, I’m still less enthused about this whole solid nog concept.

Dreyer’s Egg Nog Ice Cream is unquestionably fairly tasty. However, it fails on three of my four main egg nog qualifications which are:

1. Nutmeg prominence
2. Drinkability
3. Warmth
4. Ability to combine with rum and not make the saddest ice cream float ever

Unless you’re already freezing, you probably won’t regret trying this stuff. You’ll just wonder why you didn’t grab some no-frills, non-chilly egg nog instead. If you’re a cold nog kind of person, this will make even less sense for you. And really that’s the bottom line – there’s no outstanding perk or fantastic reason to go back for a few more scoops instead of melting it down and slurping it up.

In this case limited edition seems to equate to acknowledgement of lack of staying power, yet they mention it being “back.” Did I just miss it last year? More importantly, am I supposed to be anticipating this next year? Because next year I plan on nodding knowingly as I pass by the freezer section in search of the special holiday fulfillment Dreyer’s could not provide. I hate to break it to you like this, Dreyer’s, but I’m leaving you for either Southern Comfort or Soy Nog. I like you. I just don’t like like you. I’m sorry.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 6% calcium, 0% vitamin C and 0% iron.)

Item: Dreyer’s Slow Churned Limited Edition Egg Nog Ice Cream
Price: $3.49
Size: 1.5 Quarts
Purchased at: Albertson’s
Rating: 5 out 10
Pros: Nutmeg. That heat wave last week. Tastes far better than it looks. It’s actually ice cream rather than a bag of worms or something. Half the fat of “regular ice cream.” Creamy.
Cons: Yellow snow. Egg nog with chunks. Ice cream in a Midwestern winter. Mini rum nog floats. Frostbite. Uncertainty over what constitutes “regular ice cream.” No coziness. Better melted. Fills non-exist nog niche.

REVIEW: Extra Dessert Delights Gum (Strawberry Shortcake, Mint Chocolate Chip and Key Lime Pie)

Extra Dessert Delights (Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry Shortcake & Key Lime Pie)

This year on Black Friday I slept in and ate pie for breakfast. From then until a matinee showing of Harry Potter, I had time to kill, so I embarked upon a ruthless search for my first review topic. My strategy was to go where the crowd most definitely would not be: CVS.

Like all drug stores, CVS isn’t meant for the early, targeted bargain shopper. Drug stores are where the most terrible gifts are born around midnight every Christmas Eve. The Bumpits. The ShamWows. The best of the past year’s late night infomercial onslaught, proudly on display for the non-insomniac market, ready to proclaim, “The only thought I put into this was whether or not it would fit into this mostly mold-free, empty box I found in the basement yesterday. Happy frickin’ holidays!” On the biggest shopping day of the year, however, I saw maybe four or five people in the whole store who didn’t work there and weren’t related to me. It was consumer heaven.

Faced with many horrible convenience food options, some of which might technically be considered “dietary supplements” or “experimental chemical amalgams” rather than “food,” I felt a little like a sacrificial product sampling lamb — an experience I had hoped to stave off at least until my second review. Luckily, I took a last minute jaunt down the candy aisle, where I found all three varieties of Extra Dessert Delights sugar-free gum lined up like shining beacons of hope in the midst of a texture-impaired, corn syrupy storm.

I tore into the mint chocolate chip flavor first. Unwrapping the plastic released a surprising burst of what I would’ve assumed was real mint chocolate ice cream, if I’d kept my eyes closed. Inside, the gum appeared greenish blue and fairly nondescript. No chocolate flecks. No color swirls. No frills whatsoever.

At first chew, the stuff tastes like any other mint gum, but then it gets oddly cold, in this deeply unnatural yet refreshing way. It’s like slightly melted ice cream with a gum base. Given a few seconds of chewing, the chocolate finally kicks in. The whole process is very Willy Wonka. You’ll wonder what the hell is happening in your mouth until gradually you stop caring and settle into the delicious symphony of flavors and disconcerting chilliness (which I have to admit I’d miss had they not cooked up some creepy chemical way to include it). I feel like there’s another obvious joke to be made in correlation with that last statement, but I can’t quite wrap my head around it. Hmm, oh well.

The strawberry shortcake gum smelled authentic, too. I could definitely perceive the shortcake. Don’t tell me you don’t know what I’m talking about. Go buy a package of shortcakes. Rip it open. Inhale. Now go smell this gum. I’ll wait and then, as your eyes grow wide and you acknowledge the accuracy of my account, I’ll say, “I know, right?”

I found myself suddenly transported back to Midwestern days of yore, picking strawberries right from the patch under the blazing June sun, wearing one of those cute little shirts that tied at the shoulders along with my heart-shaped sunglasses, my hands sticky with berry goop from accidentally grabbing rotten ones.

Extra Dessert Delights (Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry Shortcake & Key Lime Pie) SticksAnd – oh God, it’s so cold here! Southern California is broken! On top of that, I decided to hang a decorated glow-in-the-dark skeleton over the heater rather than have the gas turned on. I felt so bold back in the summer when I made that decision. I was tough, damn it – a gritty, blizzard-beaten Illinoisan through and through. But now it is December and I’m very worried about hypothermia. Word on the street is that it is quite the insidious killer.

Oh wait. Sorry. Gum.

The gum basically gave my mouth a brief vacation from reality without ever truly overwhelming my senses. The taste is a bit more muted than the mint chip kind, but pleasant. Mostly I got a sweet real strawberry flavor with hints of something more, but none of the bold shortcake experience promised by the gum’s aroma. I would’ve said this knocked it out of the park had I not just witnessed the spectacular home run blasted into the stratosphere by mint chip. Even so, this definitely manages to clear the wall somewhere far out in right field. It’s fair, people. Cue the fireworks. I wish it were at least April. Can you hear me weather gods? I’m willing to settle!

Finally, we come to my citrusy old friend, key lime pie. On Sunday, my brother-in-law knocked a bunch of limes off the tree in his backyard, prompting some spur-of-the-moment baking. Quite out of the blue, I had the real thing handy for comparison. Yay! The real thing definitely wins. Just putting that out there. I mean, seriously, the only way to make that pie fresher would’ve been to juice the limes straight from the tree, and that just seems unnecessary. On the flip side, this version has five calories. So there’s that.

The gum definitely does taste pie-like, following closely in the footsteps of its excellently rendered neighbors. The flavor is very middle-of-the-road family restaurant key lime pie, harkening back to a particular slice I consumed at the Bonanza in Mt. Vernon, Illinois back in the late nineties. I must say, it’s less daunting as a gum. I was a little leery of the lime flavor becoming monotonous and too sour, because I am a wimp. I’m sorry I ever doubt you, Extra. Please forgive me. It tastes like a Starburst with more longevity and no real sugar. I appreciate that even the pie on the box hasn’t been artificially dyed electric-green…ålike that pie at Bonanza. I only remember it so vividly because I found an entire old hot dog under my chair that same night. I wonder if that place is still around?

Anyway, you’re done reading now. Go try these gums, especially the choco-minty kind, unless you don’t like mint chocolate or happiness. Extra has blessed us all with holiday-levels of indulgence, minus the added layer of seasonal blubber. Even if you were to blow through a whole pack in one sitting (which I totally considered) that’s still twenty-five calories short of a single Double-Stuf Oreo.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 stick – 5 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of sugar alcohol and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Extra Dessert Delights Sugar Free Gum (Mint Chocolate Chip, Key Lime Pie, and Strawberry Shortcake)
Price: $1.29
Size: 15 sticks/pack
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 10 out of 10 (Mint Chocolate Chip)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Strawberry Shortcake)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Key Lime Pie)
Pros: Pie for breakfast. Post-apocalyptic shopping situations. The Willy Wonka flavor presentation method. Five calorie desserts. Glow-in-the-dark skeletons. Shortcake. The chill of ice cream without subsequent tongue numbness. Fresh picked limes made into a pie. Starbursts you can chew on forever. Pretty much everything else about the mint chocolate chip variety. Warmth.
Cons: Last minute gifts. Corn syrup storms. The mystery of how it’s possible for gum to stay cold for twenty minutes. Grabbing rotten strawberries. Hypothermia. The shortcake element being a total tease. Most of my trips to Bonanza. Trying to juice a lime without picking it.

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Reviewer Nichol

Hi! Hello? Is this thing on? I don’t think… HELLO IMPULSIVE BUYERS! Oh – okay, that’s better.

My name is Nichol. Long time follower, first time typewriter monkey.

First off, I am a San Diegan, and therefore classy.

I possess the heart and stomach of a Midwesterner, the eyes of a hawk, the legs of a jackal, the bosom of a traditional haus frau, and the stature of Napoleon Bonaparte. Maybe I’m lying about some of that, and maybe I’m not, but in any case, I’ve probably got you picturing some sort of small monster banging away maniacally on a damaged keyboard in a dark room, and that, I can assure you, is a fairly accurate account of what’s happening.

I don’t eat canned tuna, barbequed Twinkies, or any foods that glow in the dark without mentioning it on the label. Aside from that, I’m about as discerning as a half-starved Beagle and at least twice as curious. This will undoubtedly give all of you ample opportunity to revel in my regret, confusion, and outrage when things like gummy rats and off-brand frozen egg rolls turn out not to be delicious.

I grew up in a small (but not tiny) town in the absolute middle of both Southern Illinois and nowhere. I’d try to describe the exact location, but you’ve probably never encountered any of the surrounding communities either, so suffice it to say I was like 65 miles from St. Louis and that was the closest notable metropolitan area. We’d usually get the “new” and “limited edition” products months after everyone else in the developed world. This somehow made everything far more exciting and noteworthy. I like to think I’ve managed to bottle a bit of that overzealous commercial devotion and keep the magic alive even in this newfangled era of instant gratification. And I’m re-opening that bottle just for you.

Following that uneventfully quaint childhood, I went on to earn a dual degree in English and creative writing from the University of Illinois. Then I got bored with corn fields and ran off to the west coast on the coattails of my best friend. I am currently utilizing my degree through seasonal work, elder care and psych studies.

Moving to an urban area has proved to be a truly novel, almost dazzling experience. For the first time in my life, I can buy things like name brand shoes without leaving the state or trusting the trench coat wearing man in the alley behind my house. Also, if I drive for ten minutes in any direction, I am pretty much guaranteed to hit an In-N-Out Burger. On the count of three let’s all think about this and drool.

I am always snarky, often unintentionally creepy, at best questionably sane, and beyond excited to be joining the team and info-taining you guys every once in awhile. I look forward to the many crunchy, processed, and/or sugar coated experiences in which we will no doubt share in the near future here on TIB.