REVIEW: Vanilla Spice Cheerios Cereal

Vanilla Spice Cheerios is the only Cheerios variety that has ever made me go down a 1990s music rabbit hole because I wanted to know if there was a Vanilla Spice in the Spice Girls. There wasn’t, and in the end, after finding out what Bell Biv DeVoe, Gerardo, and Boyz II Men were up to, I realized I was probably thinking of Vanilla Ice. Vanilla Spice Cheerios is also the least memorable flavor I’ve had.

You’d think combining vanilla and cinnamon cereals together would create something worthwhile, but I’m surprised by how bland this cereal is. Okay, “bland” is a harsh word that was used to describe me in high school…and me in college…and me at various workplaces after college…and this paragraph so far. There is some cinnamon flavor, so it’s definitely not as bland as I’ve been for almost my entire life.

But, um, the vanilla.

Is it there? With every spoonful, I keep asking myself that, and because it’s not noticeable I’m sure I could convince anyone in a blind taste test that this cereal is an equal mixture of Cinnamon Cheerios and original Cheerios. Even when I taste the pieces independently, they don’t scream, speak, or whisper vanilla, but they’re also not exactly plain Cheerios either.

I’m trying to remember if this was also the case with Vanilla Honey Cheerios that came out a year ago, but I don’t remember what it tastes like. Okay, my apologies, Vanilla Spice Cheerios. You and Vanilla Honey Cheerios are tied for the least memorable Cheerios varieties I’ve had.

Vanilla Spice Cheerios is a perfectly fine cinnamon-flavored Cheerios. But if you want that and with more flavor, you might as well get a box that has only Cinnamon Cheerios or purchase the excellent Cinnamon Cheerios Oat Crunch.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from General Mills. Doing so did not influence my review.

Size: 12 oz box
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/3 cup w/o milk) 150 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar (including 8 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Tres Leches Toast Crunch Cereal

During my decades of dessert dining, I’m unsure if I’ve had tres leches cake. But how could I not have had something that sounds delicious — a pound cake that’s soaked in a mixture of whole, evaporated, and condensed milks and then topped with whipped cream. As complex as that sounds, the folks at General Mills have developed a new Toast Crunch variety based on that dessert that I may or may not have had.

The company says that the cereal brings the cake’s flavor to the cereal bowl and is packed with cinnamon and extra indulgent Cinnamilk with the same crunchy texture as Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

If I’ve never had tres leches cake, I’m going to want some tres leches cake très vite because I’m going to assume the dessert is as delicious as this cereal. Yeah, I know. One is Spanish, and the other is French, but it looks cool in text.

First, I’d love to spend a lot of time with an open bag of this stuff in a phone booth, pod in a Japanese capsule hotel, or coffin because its delightful aroma reminds me of a cinnamon roll’s cream cheese frosting. That aromatic introduction leads to a unique and complex cereal flavor that gives me as much joy as eating the original Cinnamon Toast Crunch, dry or with milk. Actually, maybe even more.

There’s definitely a cake taste that’s somewhat similar to what I’ve experienced with the vast number of birthday cake products I’ve crammed into my mouth over the years, but not over-the-top sweet like most of those. Beyond that, there’s a butteriness that makes my tongue wonder if that’s from the cake flavoring or the cereal trying to present a milkiness. Whatever it is, it adds a bit of sweet complexity that goes exceptionally well with a not-quite-as-intense-as-Cinnamon-Toast-Crunch cinnamon flavor.

With its strong cake and cinnamon flavors, I really want to call this Cinnamon Cake Crunch, but Tres Leches Toast Crunch is more fun to say. Also, and this might be my imagination, there’s a little something something in the taste that could be interpreted as whipped topping.

Overall, Tres Leches Toast Crunch is très bien. Yeah, I know Spanish and French again. It’s so wonderful that, like my beloved Apple Pie Toast Crunch, I want this to exist forever year round.

FOREVER, General Mills! FOREVER!

DISCLOSURE: I received a free product sample from General Mills. Doing so did not influence my review.

Size: 12 oz box
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup w/o milk) 170 calories, 4 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 2.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar (including 12 grams of added sugar), and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: General Mills Kit Kat Cereal

Does Kit Kat Cereal taste like a Kit Kat?

No, it doesn’t. Its flavor doesn’t even remotely remind me of the iconic candy bar — not the Hershey’s version, the Nestle version sold everywhere other than the US, or even Norway’s Kvikk Lunsj (Google it). Even its crunch differs significantly from the crispiness of the wafers coated in chocolate. “Gimme a break,” you might say, but I’ve been eating and reviewing cereal long enough to know that I shouldn’t set my expectations that high for a product that’s supposed to taste like something else. What I expected was something chocolatey with a decent crunch, and that’s what we’ve got here with this breakfast option.

The cereal’s shape is similar to the four-fingered candy bar, but its looks also bring a puffed-up, less ridged Golden Grahams to mind. One sniff from the opened bag brought memories of Cocoa Pebbles and Cocoa Puffs, and its sweet scent also summoned thoughts that this might be the most chocolatey cereal I’ve ever shoved into my mouth. It isn’t, but it’s enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

A darker Cocoa Puffs is the best description I can give of its flavor, which doesn’t quite match the milk chocolatey goodness that coats an actual Kit Kat. Also, a part of me wonders, and I don’t want to start a conspiracy here, that this could be a tweak of Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch. Most of the flavor comes from a coating, but under that is the whole grain wheat and rice flour cereal that has some cocoa notes but leans more to the bitter side. The chocolate is most noticeable when eaten dry but weakens a bit in milk. While the leftover liquid looks like it might have some notable flavor, it doesn’t.

While the product has the common “cocoa processed with alkali,” there’s a less typical ingredient. Nope, it’s not the trisodium phosphate. The second to last ingredient is rosemary extract. Before you let out an “ew,” a quick search revealed that it’s probably used as a preservative and not for aromatherapy if you light pieces on fire.

Oh, speaking of things that involve fire, if you combine this with Golden Grahams and pick up a bag of Lucky Charms Just Magical Marshmallows, out now for a limited time, you’ve possibly got yourself a decent s’mores-flavored cereal mashup.

Overall, Kit Kat Cereal will not allow you to have a bowl of tiny candy bar-tasting cereal. But you will get a good, chocolatey breakfast offering that might be better than Cocoa Puffs but not as tasty or as chocolatey as Cocoa Pebbles.

DISCLOSURE: I received a free sample from General Mills. Doing so did not influence my review.

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 11.5 oz box
Purchased at: Received from General Mills
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 cup w/o milk) 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 220 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar (including 10 grams of added sugar), and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s ICEE Cereal

As someone who spent a large portion of my formative years at the Jersey Shore, ICEEs were more than just a treat. They were a symbol of summer, a form of salvation from the heat, and now, thanks to Kellogg’s, it can add “Mixed Berry Breakfast Cereal” to its resume too.

It is UNCANNY how much this smells like ICEEs. I’m not sure if “cereal odor engineer” is an actual job title, but if it is, bravo to this cereal odor engineer! Interestingly, though, the taste was not quite so evocative. I had to shovel down a few bites before I could even figure out what flavor my mouth was experiencing. My eloquent first thought was… “cereal.” I know, but seriously between the small ball shape, colors that certainly cannot be found in nature, crunchy-on-the-outside-but-airy-on-the-inside texture, and flavor that combines sweetness, maltiness, and a hint of bitter artificiality, they check every box that sugary breakfast cereals are infamous for (if only they came with a prize too!).

Do the red puffs and the blue puffs taste any different? My expert verdict is: a little. I got a faint whiff of cherriness from the red and blue-raspberry-ness from the blue, but honestly, I think the colors did a lot of work in helping to convince my brain that they were distinct. The website I bought this from explicitly lists purple as one of the piece colors too (neat to note that those few pieces weren’t just brightly hued screwups after all), but I can’t say they had any unique flavor of their own. And just like combining red and blue gives you purple, combining red ICEE pieces and blue ICEE pieces in the same mouthful gives you something new, too… a total mess.

The cereal tasted much better when I was eating only reds or only blues; the minute I mixed up a big spoonful, all I could taste was a funky artificiality that bizarrely reminded me of banana. It wasn’t exactly BAD, but I can’t say it totally hit the mark either.

Of course, I also have to mention this cereal’s rad gimmick, a cooling sensation like what was used in last year’s Coca-Cola Starlight. At first, I just chalked my chilly mouth up to cold milk, but when I ate a few dry pieces, lo and behold, the cooling effect was just as strong, leaving not just the roof of my mouth but even my throat feeling frosty and tingly. Perhaps this wasn’t strictly necessary, but it was a pretty cool touch (pun not intended, actually, but welcome nonetheless). And hot tip (or, ahem, cool tip): if you enjoy this effect, definitely slurp up all the milk at the bottom of your bowl, too.

So, am I glad I tried these? Sure! Did I ultimately need the ginormous two-pack I bought? Probably not! Will I reach for these again when the craving for a frozen fruity beverage strikes? Doubtful! But will I gladly snarf them down for a quick, quirky, and not necessarily quality breakfast? ICEE-lutely!

Purchased Price: $7.98
Size: 2 13.2 oz bags
Purchased at:
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 1/3 cup serving with no milk) 130 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Apple Jacks Pop-Tarts

We’ve seen Kellogg’s mash-up its breakfast brands before with Eggo and Froot Loops flavored Pop-Tarts, so it’s only natural it would try an Apple Jacks version. Apple Jacks is a curious choice to use as a flavor for something else though because what really is its flavor besides “Apple Jacks”? They famously don’t taste much like apples, and there isn’t a lot of cinnamon, either.

If you were to blindly taste Apple Jacks, you’d probably say they seem like a sugary cereal, and if you were to rip open the foil on any Pop-Tart, they’re first and foremost going to give off a general Pop-Tart aroma and flavor. This is really what they have in common: they both taste like breakfasts of your youth that are pretty unremarkable, but damn if you don’t love them anyway. Kellogg’s knows this, which is why Apple Jacks has the slogan, “We eat what we like!” So, do we like these Pop-Tarts?

I like Apple Jacks, and I like Pop-Tarts, so it should be a winning formula. All they need to do is taste like a breakfast I would have eaten in 3rd grade. After opening a pouch, my initial expectations were met. These have the classic bland pastry base that may or may not be discarded (depending on how hungry you are) in favor of the more coveted middle section with frosting and sugar goo. The frosting is less generously applied than the box indicates, and there are sugar sprinkles in colors corresponding to Apple Jacks. They have that classic Pop-Tart smell and are visually kind of cute, although maybe I only think that because the last Pop-Tarts I reviewed looked like they’d been dropped in dirt.

Breaking one open, I was struck by how orange the filling was. If Kellogg’s ever wants to make a carrot-flavored variety, it should keep this dye combo in mind. The untoasted tarts taste pretty much like you’d think, sweetly nondescript. I don’t pick up on any apple, which should make all those kids from the 90’s era Apple Jacks commercials proud. If I’m trying to hone in on a flavor, the main one I get is cinnamon, and this is where things go awry for me.

It’s not a gentle cinnamon; it’s a hot cinnamon candy taste. If you’ve had Red Hots or Atomic Fireballs, this is akin to that but not nearly as strong. I usually think toasting Pop-Tarts improves them by taking away some of the flouriness and boosting the flavors, but this isn’t a flavor I want amplified. When heated, the hot cinnamon is definitely more pronounced. This is a negative for me because I dislike the flavor, and it doesn’t remind me of the cereal. It isn’t so overpowering that I think it would bother everyone, but it’s enough of a turnoff that I wouldn’t consider buying them again. Perhaps it only makes sense that if Apple Jacks doesn’t taste like apples, Apple Jacks Pop-Tarts shouldn’t taste like Apple Jacks.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 8 count box
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (2 pastries) 370 calories, 9 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 70 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 28 grams of total sugars, and 4 grams of protein.