REVIEW: Cinnamon Toast Crunch Waffle Cereal

Quite recently, on this web page, I spent a few hundred words bemoaning the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Committee’s efforts at integrating its product into places it maybe didn’t belong. The product of my focused ire in this specific instance was its attempt at crossbreeding its fine cereal product with Old El Paso taco shells. As part of my hard-hitting expose, I also mentioned its failures related to soft-baked cereal bars and peculiarly large “Stuft” marshmallows.

Garbage, all.

The good news about the new Cinnamon Toast Crunch Waffle cereal, though, is that it is, in no uncertain terms, a cereal. And if there’s one thing Cinnamon Toast Crunch shines at, it is being cereal. In fact, at any given moment, it is a Top 3 cereal. Maybe even Number 1. And its offshoots — for not being straight-up, dyed-in-the-wool CTC — are reasonably decent. The little balls they made were okay. The Rolls, various Leche(s), and French Toast riffs are all above average.

So what of this new Cinnamon Toast Crunch Waffle cereal?

The website acts like this is simply alternatively shaped CTC. It states, “Cinnamon Toast Crunch Waffle Cereal pairs epic cinnamon-sugar CINNADUST with crispy cereal pieces shaped like mini waffles. The whole wheat and corn cereal delights taste buds with real cinnamon and a crispy crunch.” But here’s the deal: I absolutely detect waffle flavoring in here as well. There’s a syrup-like undertone at the beginning and back end of each bite, and the whole shebang is covered in a ton of heavenly Cinnadust seasoning. It is, simply put, incredible. It took a lot of willpower to not eat more than one large bowl in my initial serving. It was just that delicious.

If I have one minor quibble — something that keeps this from being a perfect 10 — it’s that structurally, it doesn’t hold up well to milk. And on account of this is a cereal and all, that’s kind of problematic. This stuff gets soggy QUICK. Not inedibly soggy, no, but the crispness is deflated by a solid 65% within 30 seconds of a milk bath. On any lesser cereal, this would be a much bigger deal, but because this stuff was so good, all it did was make me eat it as fast as humanly possible.

I don’t know if General Mills intends on keeping this around as a regular offering or not, so my suggestion is to get several boxes now, and freeze-dry the ones that you… oh, who am I kidding— there’s no saving this stuff for later. Eat and enjoy while you can.

Purchased Price: $4.93
Size: 18.2 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (41 grams) 170 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar (including 10 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Old El Paso Cinnamon Toast Crunch Dessert Taco Shells

I’m a Cinnamon Toast Crunch guy, through and through. In my pantry right this second, for example, I have Cinnamon Toast Crunch Soft Baked Oatmeal Bars, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake Mix, Cinnamon Toast Crunch Icing for said cake mix (or just for finger-dipping, like a garden variety unhinged lunatic), and a double-box of the namesake cereal from Costco.

Now, I can’t attest to the cake mix, as I haven’t had it, but I don’t like the oatmeal bars, the “Loaded” cereal I had a few months ago was pretty bad, and the less said about the Stuffed Puffs Marshmallow Filled bites, the better. Point being, while CTC’s PR people are great at selling their product as a desirable collaborator, the actual execution of the experimentations leaves a lot to be desired.

So the big question, then, regarding the new Old El Paso Stand ‘n Stuff Cinnamon Toast Crunch Dessert Taco Shells, is, will these finally buck the trend?

I’ve enjoyed Old El Paso’s flavored Stand ‘n Stuff shells before — specifically the Bold Nacho Cheese and Zesty Ranch varieties — so I had high hopes. This was further encouraged when I pulled the Cinnamon Toast version out of its packaging. The shell itself was heavily dusted, which was a good sign. This was where the good things ended, sadly.

The box instructs you to heat the shells in the oven or the microwave, further noting that “unheated shells will be chewy.” Because things are generally better coming from the oven, I opted to do that. Here’s the thing — heating these shells in the oven made them incredibly brittle and unforgiving. They cracked into pieces upon the first bite, and the texture was a little like chewing on drywall. Because I was so put off by the texture, I actually tried one unheated, and, what do you know, it was much improved. The cinnamon taste, which was almost completely absent on the heated shells, was mildly more noticeable (still not saying much, I know) on the unheated kind. (I didn’t try the microwave; I was completely over these things by my third shell.)

Basically, these shells are regular Old El Paso taco shells that have been sprayed with cinnamon dust. So, due to the very mild cinnamon taste, it mostly tastes like you’re eating ice cream in a regular crunchy corn taco shell. If you think that sounds good, then, by all means, have the rest of mine.

I filled one with regular vanilla ice cream as a benchmark of sorts and one with Blue Bell’s Cinnamon Twist, a newer ice cream I love. Due to vanilla’s plainness, it tasted as mentioned in the above paragraph — as though I was eating an ice cream taco (and not a Choco Taco, which is an immensely better thing to eat). The shell filled with the Cinnamon Twist ice cream was much better; the strong cinnamon from the ice cream overpowered the shell’s salty corn flavor, rendering it into nothing more than a wall-textured ice cream delivery vehicle.

As much as it pains me to say it, these things were a flop. But fear not, brilliant Cinnamon Toast Crunch PR people! It’s pretty obvious I’ll buy whatever weird crossover you put in front of me. Once, anyway.

Purchased Price: $3.18
Size: 10 shells
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 shells) 160 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar (including 2 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted Bran Cereal

Kellogg’s new Frosted Bran is made up of crunchy bran flakes with a perfect amount of sweetness. A part of me wishes it was called Frosted Flakes Bran with Tony the Tiger and the Sun giving each other a high five on the front of the box, with the tagline, “They’re gr-r-reat…for your digestive system.” What could’ve been!

Don’t let the sun smiling on the box fool you into thinking these are the exact same bran flakes found in Kellogg’s Raisin Bran because they aren’t. While they are not as frosted as those found in Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, there’s enough of a coating to make them sweeter and crunchier than what’s in a bowl of plain ol’ Raisin Bran.

But here’s the thing, it tastes like Kellogg’s took the sugary coating from the raisins and then put them on the bran flakes because the cereal is not sweeter than regular Raisin Bran and has the same fibrous flavors as the classic cereal minus the raisins. That sweet coating also prevents the flakes from getting soggy the instant they’re introduced to milk, which happens with regular bran flakes.

To be honest, there needs to be a Frosted Bran with Raisins because it would make eating Raisin Bran less annoying and more tasty. I’ve let out so many sighs when I end up with raisin-less spoonfuls of bran mush that I probably let out enough air to blow up balloons for a child’s birthday party.

As for nutritional differences between this and Kellogg’s Raisin Bran, a one-cup serving of this new cereal has 150 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of sugar. While a serving of the original has 190 calories, 7 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of sugar.

I’m surprised by how much I like Kellogg’s Frosted Bran, but I don’t know if I should be surprised. After all, I like Raisin Bran when I can secure at least one raisin on my spoon. It has the right amount of sweetness, and its sugary coating helps maintain a decent crunch. I wish it came in a bigger box, but overall, I think this cereal is gr-r-rand…for your digestive system.

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 12.7 oz box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup w/o milk) 150 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar (including 9 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Extra Crispy Clusters Cereal

Am I losing my mind? Kellogg’s Extra Crispy Clusters are just granola in a box, right? “Crispy Clusters” are just granola clusters, right? Nothing about them makes them special than Nature Valley or KIND granola, right? With these definitely being granola, I can’t help but want to call them Extranola. But what makes them “extra” over other granola, I could not tell you despite eating several servings of both varieties available — Almond and Cinnamon.

While both flavors are crispy, which I’ll write more about in a moment, only the Cinnamon one slid out of the bag in cluster form. But the Almond one was mostly a bunch of loose granola in the bag as if it got beaten up by boxes of Honey Bunches of Oats with Almonds as retaliation for stepping on their oat cluster cereal turf.

But back to their crispiness…

The neglect I gave these while sitting in milk would make any Tamagotchi die, but they maintained their crispiness despite that. I left them to soak while I scrolled through cleaning Instagram Reels. Still crispy. I let them sit in 2% while I collected and counted all the micro USB cables I’ve accumulated over the past decade. Still crispy. But I’m pretty sure giving any granola that same lack of attention while in dairy would have the same result, so it really isn’t that impressive.

If I had to choose between the two Kellogg’s Extra flavors, I’d give the nod to the Cinnamon one. While it tastes like any cinnamon-flavored granola, it’s definitely more flavorful than the other one. Oddly, I also found that the warm spice has more flavor in milk than when eaten dry. As for the Almond variety, the caramelized sugar coating provides a noticeable and pleasant sweetness, and the almonds obviously add a nuttiness. However, as I ate it, it reminded me of whatever the standard Nature Valley granola flavor is. It’s fine and something I would not say no to, but it won’t make my taste buds do a happy dance.

The only “extra” thing I can think of about Kellogg’s Extra is its price, which is extra high compared to other cereals on the shelf. I paid $6.99 for each box, which was the sale price. The regular price was $13.99. But even at the sale price, I can’t see myself picking up another box of what is basically granola with nothing other than the price being extra about it.

Purchased Price: $6.99 (sale)
Size: 20.6 oz box (Cinnamon), 20.2 oz box (Almond)
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Cinnamon), 5 out of 10 (Almond)
Nutrition Facts: (2/3 cup) Cinnamon 280 calories, 11 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 240 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar (including 13 grams of added sugar), and 5 grams of protein. Almond – 300 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar (including 11 grams of added sugar), and 6 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Special K Limited Edition Iced Vanilla Latte Cereal

Special K was one of the first cereals I remember being huge in the diet/resolution sphere in the early 00s. The commercials would start after Christmas and last until the beginning of February, telling us how the “Special K Diet” could help us lose weight. Even though the diet isn’t pushed anymore, Special K introduces a new flavor every January to entice resolutioners. This year, Special K’s Limited Edition Iced Vanilla Latte is on the shelves.

The cereal is “crunchy wheat and rice latte-flavored flakes made with vanilla-flavored clusters.” I’m generally a big fan of coffee/espresso flavors in various forms, but after opening the bag, I was immediately worried by the overwhelming instant coffee aroma that greeted me. I won’t bore you with my journey to being a coffee drinker, but I will say I’m not a coffee snob unless it comes to instant coffee.

To me, there is a bitterness in instant coffee that I just can’t get past. Smelling it after opening the cereal made me worried about how the flavor was going to be. Before adding it to a bowl, I tried a handful. The combination of the dry cereal and pungent flavor (though not as strong as the smell) was truly unpleasant. It was not a great texture or flavor experience.

I went on the hunt for the “vanilla-flavored clusters” to try and see if they would balance things a little better. They had almost all settled towards the bottom of the bag, but I managed to fish one out. The vanilla flavor was almost non-existent with the cluster. It just had that vague, sweet flavor that those familiar with diet-centric cereals would recognize.

After trying it dry, I hoped that milk could somehow improve the experience. It did help to mellow out the harsh coffee flavor some, and when I got a bite with all three components (flakes, clusters, and milk), it offered a more pleasant flavor profile. However, about halfway through my bowl, I had to throw in the towel. While it wasn’t so bad that I had to spit it out, it just wasn’t good enough to keep eating.

This was a rare L for Special K cereals. I have loved the different varieties I have tried over the years and hoped this one would be no different. Kellogg’s Special K Limited Edition Iced Vanilla Latte just didn’t work for me. The overwhelmingly bitter coffee flavor that isn’t balanced with a sweet, vanilla flavor makes it overall unpleasant. Since I have a family-size box amount left, I might try to use it in a recipe or even eat it with chocolate milk to see if it can be redeemed.

Purchased Price: $4.98
Size: 18.2 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup without milk) 150 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.