I don’t know about you, but the name “honey vanilla” instantly calls to my mind some kind of skincare product; something sweet but not syrupy, understated and tasteful but with a hint of sumptuousness. The back of this Cheerios box, with its posh descriptors “rich,” “delightfully tempting,” and “O so joyful,” only made me more confident in this association.
Gingerly plucking a single glossy “O” before preparing my bowl (I may or may not have even felt elegant enough to do this with my pinky finger raised), the first thing I noticed was its sticky texture. Crisp and firm on the outside, this cereal glistened with a vanilla-glazed gleam. Upon my taste test, the solid interior gave way to its airy inside with a satisfying crunch. Eaten dry, the cereal tasted pleasant but not overly flavorful. It struck me as more or less just a milder version of the ubiquitous Honey Nut Cheerios, and I’m not sure I could have pinpointed which ingredients made it unique without the box’s helpful visual cues of a vanilla flower and generous honey swirl adorning the iconic heart-shaped bowl. It had a faint sweetness, but the foremost flavor was oat-y; it didn’t surprise me when I noticed the box also bore a proud (but perhaps unnecessarily capitalized) proclamation of “first ingredient WHOLE GRAIN OATS.”
Pouring milk over the cereal coaxed out more notes of both honey and vanilla, but it remained alluringly demure. Another word that kept springing to my mind was “mature.” I was introduced to a measured, subtle wave of sweetness, not the punch to the face of sugariness that I frankly often look for in my cereal choices. These Cheerios were also pretty quick to become mushy in the milk, and while I know that can be a controversial quality, I was personally a fan.
I’m a strong believer that the back of a cereal box should be given just as much consideration as the taste, and this one certainly fits the product’s “refined but slightly saccharine” aesthetic with its honey-and-vanilla-themed sudoku-esque visual puzzle. A high school classmate of mine infamous for his elaborate and uncomfortable outfits used to live by the motto “aesthetics over practicality,” and while our gym teachers disagreed, I think Honey Vanilla Cheerios would. This charming puzzle seemed kind of impossible to actually fill out since the six icons you’re tasked with drawing in the correct order are mostly differentiated by color, and I’m guessing most people don’t eat their cereal with neutral-toned crayons at the ready. But hey, still cute and classy!
Overall, Honey Vanilla Cheerios are plain but pleasing, an ideal breakfast for a day filled with agreeable-but-not-too-spirited activities like gracefully smelling a moderately-scented flower or playing a prim game of checkers where, win or lose, you’d never dare get in your opponent’s face about it. If the prospect of purchasing a cereal with a name that sounds straight out of Bath & Body Works excites you, these should suit you just fine.
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 14.3 oz box (“Large Size”)
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup – cereal only) 140 calories (180 with 1/2 cup skim milk), 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 170 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.