REVIEW: Post Limited Edition Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme Cereal

Limited Edition Post Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles

Few cereals are extreme enough to warrant dropping a vowel from their names, but Post seems to think their new Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme cereal is worthy of the honor.

The limited edition cereal was only available at my local supermarket in a family size box, containing four more ounces than a standard box. The cereal claims to be even more chocolatey than normal Cocoa Pebbles, which means that the cer— hoooooold up.

What are you trying to pull here, Post? The nutritional facts on this box are identical to those found on a box of normal Cocoa Pebbles. The ingredients lists are strikingly similar, except the Xtreme variety lacks a single ingredient present in the original: a preservative known as butylated hydroxyanisole. (Yum.)

Well, well, well, it seems Post has taken me for a fool. At this point, I’m fairly confident they’ve simply repackaged normal Cocoa Pebbles in a fancy new box in an effort to sell more cereal to hyperactive, sugar-addicted children. I’ll be surprised if this Xtreme version is any different from the standard variety. A simple side-by-side comparison will reveal the truth.

Limited Edition Post Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles Comparison

Pouring out a bowl of Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme next to a bowl of the normal type, we find my hypothesis was as wrong as watching the movie Teeth with your family. (“That’s not her mouth, grandma.”) The Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme are noticeably darker in color than the normal variety. I’m stumped as to how Post Foods managed to accomplish this when the nutritional facts and ingredients are nearly identical, but it seems Post’s R&D team has been workin’ up some food wizardry in the kitchen. (Foodzardry, anyone?)

Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme smells quite similar to cocoa powder — the scent is slightly more chocolatey than the normal variety, which possesses a more noticeable puffed rice aroma.

In taste, the Xtreme variety is the clear victor.

Limited Edition Post Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles Closeup

The contrast between the two cereals is more apparent than I had expected. A spoonful of both Xtreme and normal varieties of Cocoa Pebbles begins with a grainy puffed rice flavor and a sharp crunch, slowly developing a sweet cocoa flavor as the cereal is chewed. However, the Xtreme has a much stronger cocoa flavor toward the end of the bite. Its chocolate flavor seems more mature and refined in comparison to the regular variety, which merely evokes a sweetness reminiscent of white sugar.

Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme cereal is further improved by the addition of milk, which really absorbs the cereal’s cocoa flavor. As I slowly approached the end of my bowl, I grew eager to test the claim on the front of the box, which boasts the cereal “turns milk xtremely chocolatey” and “it’s like an xtreme milkshake.”

My mind began to wander, imagining the full potential of an “xtreme milkshake.” Exactly how many boys could be brought to the yard by an “xtreme milkshake”? An xtreme number, for sure.

Limited Edition Post Xtreme Cocoa Pebbles Milk

Good gravy, it’s gorgeous!

The milk left at the bottom of my bowl has turned the most beautiful shade of brown I’ve ever seen. Its flavor reminds me of chocolate milk made with a bit too much chocolate syrup, but with the aftertaste of Cocoa Pebbles.

Does it taste like a milkshake? Not quite, and though it only seems slightly more chocolatey than the milk left behind by normal Cocoa Pebbles, it’s satisfying nonetheless.

With its more substantial cocoa flavor, Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme cereal is a significant improvement upon the normal variety. Its only flaw is that it feels more like a snackfood than a breakfast cereal — a fault that plagues many of the sugary options found in your local supermarket’s cereal aisle.

I’m sorry I doubted you, Post. Our relationship has been tense ever since you discontinued Cröonchy Stars cereal, but maybe this is the start of a glorious new beginning. You’ve managed to enhance Cocoa Pebbles, and for that, I applaud you.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup without milk – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, 15 grams of other carbohydrate, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Post Limited Edition Cocoa Pebbles Xtreme Cereal
Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: 15 oz. box
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: More chocolatey than the normal variety. Even better in milk. Leaves chocolate milk in bowl. Bringing an xtreme amount of boys to the yard.
Cons: Nearly identical nutritional facts and ingredients as regular Cocoa Pebbles? Feels more like a snack than a breakfast cereal. Watching Teeth with your family.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s S’mores Krave Cereal

Kellogg's S'mores Krave Cereal

This time of the year, as the thermometer plummets and stuffing your hands in your crotch becomes an essential component of keeping warm, it’s customary to crave traditional warm foods like chili, roasted root vegetables, and a whole host of things capable of giving your tongue a third-degree burn.

Also capable of giving your tongue a third-degree burn: s’mores. Granted, the combination of chocolate, graham cracker, and marshmallow isn’t exactly associated with comfort food for the winter, but cereal companies need something to sell us after the post Thanksgiving and Christmas blitz of all things pumpkin and gingerbread. Might as well be hot sounding, right?

I have absolutely no problem with this concept. In fact, I happen to practice a strict doctrine of non-discrimination when it comes to empty carbohydrates and the seasons, and applaud Kellogg’s attempts to do the same. I speak, of course, of S’more Krave Cereal. The new cereal has jumped the gun in invading grocery stores in front of the new cereal blitz we see each January, replacing the classic also-ran Smorz cereal that’s been slowly disappearing from shelves. It’s a sad day in my household when one cereal dies, but in the case of Smorz, I won’t be mourning too long.

Kellogg's S'mores Krave Cereal Box Closeup

With box art featuring what one imagines to be a completely unrealistic marketing image of chocolate and marshmallow bursting forth from an oversized graham cereal biscuit, I naturally assumed Krave’s rendition of the classic campfire dessert would be far superior to Smorz. And in case it wasn’t, well, at least there’s always the trusty S’mores Pop-Tart.

Frequent readers may know I have something of an infatuation with that initial moment when you open up a cereal box and are greeted by that wonderfully processed yet always nostalgic smell of unadulterated empty carbs and “natural and artificial” flavor. I wouldn’t go so far to label it a fetish, but I won’t hold it against you if you call it weird. I also won’t hold it against you if you find Krave S’mores to smell something like dog food dessert, if such a thing exists. That’s because it does smell off, and this is coming from the guy who would make Lucky Charms into a cologne if he could.

Notwithstanding this highly questionable aroma, each biscuit is engrained (ha, food group pun!) with a sturdy shell of graham flour which yields a crunchier bite than the standard Krave pieces. I like the initial dry crunch of each biscuit, but the graham flavor leaves a lot to be desired. If, like me, you enjoy a bit of honey crunch in your graham (think Golden Grahams) you’ll be disappointed. It’s more whole-grainy graham than anything else, and not really sweet.

Kellogg's S'mores Krave Cereal Innards

The filling, on the other hand, tastes just like the insides of a S’mores Pop-Tart, with the welcomed addition of a slightly toasted flavor and viscosity you almost never see in cereals. The filling tastes and feels like a slightly melted marshmallow and milk chocolate square; in other words, a s’more.

If eating dozens of little S’mores Pop-Tarts for breakfast sound too good to be true, it is. See, the sheer logistical realities of Krave’s filling-to-shell ratio make delivering flavor in a single biscuit almost as impossible as lighting a fire in Siberia with nothing but two twigs and a prayer. I’m not saying it’s inconceivable, but the inconsistent filling ratio makes getting said s’more flavor really only possible by stuffing numerous biscuits in your mouth at one time.

Kellogg's S'mores Krave Cereal In Milk

However, there’s an enjoyable sweet fudgy quality to the biscuits in milk, but the biscuits do lose their toasted marshmallow and graham flavor. They also don’t leave very good end-milk, as the sturdy graham coating refuses to allow any of the scant chocolate and marshmallow filling to populate the lake of greying 2%.

Nevertheless, one could do much worse in attempting to recreate a s’more, especially this time of the year. Far be it for me to freeze my ass off trying to light a fire outside with nothing but two sticks and a prayer, it’s sometimes more practical to get one’s summertime dessert fix from the convenience of a cereal box than the genuine article.

While giving up my proverbial smoldering marshmallow on a cicada poop-laced twig is unfortunate, I must say that as a dry snack, I find S’mores Krave to be one of the more complete recreations of s’mores in prepackaged breakfast form to date. While I’d like the graham flavor to be more honey laced, crunchy, and basically like Golden Grahams, the truth is that it stills tastes better than the edgy crusts of a Pop-Tart. Not only that, but the filling more than makes up for the graham element.

Just be prepared to throw suggested serving sizes out the window, because to get the real flavor of s’mores, you’ll want to eat a lot of it, straight from the box.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup or 31 grams – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 105 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 3 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Kellogg’s S’mores Krave Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 11 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Authentic milk chocolate and toasted marshmallow flavor is breaking new ground for cereals. Crunchier than regular Krave. Better “crust” than S’mores Pop-Tarts. Doesn’t involve starting a fire in the snow. Actually kind of healthy when you think about it.
Cons: Graham flavor lags behind Golden Grahams. No honey glaze. Filling is really, really, really scarce in a single biscuit. Smells like dog food. Questionable winter warming strategies.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Post Sugar Cookie Pebbles Cereal

Limited Edition Post Sugar Cookie Pebbles Cereal

Dear Santa,

How are you? Well, I hope jolly and fat as usual. I know you’re quite busy this time of year, and I know you’ve already received four sets of revisions to my annual Christmas list. On that note, I have good and bad news. The good news is I won’t need those Super Bowl tickets. The Bills suck again this year, and I could care less about watching the Chiefs play. So consider yourself free and clear from any anti-scalping laws you might have been worried about. Now, to the bad news…

I realize you’ve already got something of a dealio with our neighborhood and the, uh, thanks we give you. What with Tommy Thomas’ mom and her applesauce cookies, or Jackie Johnson’s parents and their anti-dairy crusade. It ain’t like the old days of whole milk and Tollhouse, and I can definitely sympathize. With that said, I can’t serve you milk and cookies this year.

But don’t go returning that Playstation 4 quite yet. We’ve been doing this present thing for 25 years now and you know I got your back (and your stomach). That’s why I’m going to do you one better. Any schmuck kid with a grocery store can buy some refrigerated cookies for you. But this year, I’ve got Sugar Cookie Pebbles Cereal.

I know what you’re thinking, “Cereal? What gives!?! And cereal that’s got vitamins and minerals and fiber and crap. You think this fat man has time to stop at a gas station bathroom every five seconds on Christmas night?”

Well no, at least I seriously hope not, mostly because there’s a chance I’ll be stopping at one of those bathrooms the next day during that six-hour car ride to Grandmother’s house. So it’s a good thing for both of us that this is about the least healthy cereal ever, with no fiber whatsoever. What’s more, it tastes like that. Which is to say it tastes like the most awesome interpretation of a baked good in cereal form.

Limited Edition Post Sugar Cookie Pebbles Cereal Closeup

Trust me, this is no replay of Cookie Crisp Sprinkles. I’ll even leave you the whole box. As soon as you open it, you’ll be greeted by that Dear-God-Yes aroma of frosting and sprinkles that will remind you of all those years I spent asking you to please, just please bring me a lifetime supply of Dunkaroos with Vanilla Frosting and Sprinkles. The smell alone is good enough to warrant some extra presents this year, although I can’t be held liable for any dogs chasing you because they think they’re getting in on some giant sugar cookie deliciousness.

The taste? Seriously sugar cookie-esque. I happen to know, you know, because I’ve been a little naughty this year and have taken more than the allotted one free sugar cookie at the doors of Harris Teeter. (But seriously, that’s not going to count against me because it’s a self-admission, ok? Besides, it saves the actual kids from childhood obesity.)

The cereal is sweet and crispy, artificially but admirably floral, with each little toasted rice pebble packing tons of sugar cookie flavor. And of course, it fully embraces the colors of the season, lending itself wonderfully to any number of baking projects your elves might embark in while not slaving away buying toys for the whole world on Amazon.

Limited Edition Post Sugar Cookie Pebbles Cereal Closeup Milk

Now Santa, you’ll notice I’m not leaving you any milk with this cereal. I consider this for your own good. Lest you be disappointed by the slightly diluted taste of sugar cookie in milk and a none too hearty crunch that left me a bit disappointed, I think your sugar cookie experience is best enjoyed dry. As a snacking cereal, it might just be the best I’ve had this year, with the exception of Peanut Butter Toast Crunch. So do yourself a favor and don’t damn our neighborhood to the naughty list quite yet. I know you have plenty of holiday themed options to eat this time of year, and only so much artery space left before Tim Allen is forced to take over, but you won’t regret trading in some actual milk and cookies for Sugar Cookie Pebbles cereal.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 140 milligrams of sodium, 0 milligrams of cholesterol 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugars, 1 gram of protein, and, seriously, do you even care about the token amounts of 10 vitamins and minerals?)

Item: Limited Edition Post Sugar Cookie Pebbles Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11 oz. box
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: smells like the best thing ever. Tasty sugar cookie flavor with notes of vanilla cupcake and Dunkaroos. Addictively crispy as a snacking cereal. Christmas colors.
Cons: Sugar cookie taste is muted in milk. Not for those who like cereal that stays crunchy in milk. A candidate for the definition of “Empty Calories” in next year’s dictionary. Taking a chance at pissing off Santa and not getting that PS 4.

REVIEW: Special K Nourish Maple Brown Sugar Crunch Hot Cereal

Kellogg's Special K Maple Brown Sugar Crunch Nourish Hot Cereal

You may be asking: Why in all the magical golden coins of Super Mario would I want to buy two bowls of portable oatmeal with some mix-ins?

Well, that just brings up a slew of other questions: Why fry a Snickers? Why make your own piñata? Why learn to surf in a pool of whale sharks? Why, in fact, should you do anything? I’ll tell you why: because you are a great human. You want to reach higher. To be all you can be. To walk into work not only with your shoes on the right feet, but with a little kick that says “I am a great human and I am here to change the world.” And how, with a 1:30 bedtime and a 4:30 wake-up call, can you have the consciousness to do that?

Kellogg's Special K Maple Brown Sugar Crunch Nourish Hot Cereal Cup

Breakfast.

Preparing to fully bank on this need for early morning sustenance, Special K’s kicked out this new line of oatmeal so you can microwave a bowl of whole grains in your office, dorm, or as you brush your hair before dashing out the door, spooning mouthfuls as you swerve through the 7:30 traffic, without even grabbing a bowl. And this spurs the next question: Is it worth it?

That depends.

Kellogg's Special K Maple Brown Sugar Crunch Nourish Hot Cereal Closeup

On first glance, I figured there’s nothing revolutionary going on here. It’s just a mushy, but oddly comforting bowl of cooked oats, right? Oh how wrong I was. Underneath the goopy exterior rests an amalgam of grains that stretches the vocabulary of Kansas agriculture: there’s oats, some wheat, barley, and even quinoa, which I appreciate because it has a “Q” in it. Q words are so hard to come by these days.

While there were four grains in there, the sweet, malty oats still stand at the forefront of flavor. I was quite pleased that Special K opted for whole oats rather than the puny chopped up instant ones, which often make me feel underappreciated and begging for more like a character in a Dickens novel.

The accompanying mix-ins include two packets of toasted almonds, which, while a bit flavorless in their unsalted way, serve as quality crunch nubbins, and the separated dual packets of almonds allowed me to plop one segment in the top half of the oatmeal while saving some for the bottom, thus preventing Boring Bottom Half of Oatmeal Syndrome.

Unfortunately, there’s no actual maple syrup involved here. Instead, the oatmeal is swirled with what I imagine are little dehydrated maple crystals that, when looked at under a microscope, might be mistaken for those frightening rhinestones people put on their cell phones that blind you on a sunny day. While the maple bits add a nice smell of maple to the air, the sugar-y-ness of maple is subdued after preparation, but let’s face it: dehydrated maple bits are no substitute for the Grade-B Vermont liquid gold.

Otherwise, this is pretty successful in that straightforward, no frills way, even if there were only two bowls. The almonds stay fresh in their little compartments and the single serving allows me to stuff the bowl in my bag in the morning while running out the door. It can be prepared in the microwave or, if you wanna get fancy, the bowl provides directions for steeping.

As with all microwave oatmeal, you can whip it up with your liquid of choice, be it water, milk, coffee (and excellent choice), or, depending on the time of day and your mood, maple syrup’s best friend: bourbon. If you’re passing by a McDonald’s or keep a slab of pork belly in your employer’s mini fridge (not that I do…), a side of crispy bacon would make an excellent pairing.

As fall whisks its merciless wind through the tethers of my flimsy cardigan, this oatmeal seems perfectly timed. It’s warm, hearty brain food that I can grab on the way out the door. I don’t see myself buying this all the time, but it makes me feel cozy enough to wear footie pajamas to work. In fact, perhaps I will! Tomorrow! If you see me in my footie pajamas on the subway, know that I am not committing an act of defiance. It is merely a symptom of being filled with hot cereal.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 container– 190 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 170 milligrams of potassium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 5 gram of dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugars, and 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Special K Nourish Maple Brown Sugar Crunch Hot Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.78
Size: 2 pack
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: No frills. Easy to prepare. Big whole oats. Crunchy almonds. Magically dissolving maple-y bits. Slabs of pork belly. The option of preparing with bourbon. Making a piñata. Wearing footie pajamas to work.
Cons: Only 2 bowls. No actual maple syrup. 4:30 wake-up calls. Feeling like a character in a Dickens novel. Endangered “Q” words. Being blinded by cell phone bling.

REVIEW: General Mills Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal

General Mills Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal

History repeats itself.

At least that’s what my teachers always told me in high school. They didn’t necessarily mean Dick Cheney will shoot another man in the face at some point during the coming years, but there’s certainly some truth behind the phrase. Every other day, Taylor Swift releases yet another vengeful song about breaking up with her boyfriend. Next year will see the release of a remake of the classic science fiction film RoboCop. This past July, Anthony Weiner was caught in a sexting scandal…for the second time.

It seems General Mills has decided to repeat history by re-releasing two discontinued monster-themed breakfast cereals, Fruit Brute and Fruity Yummy Mummy. This Halloween, they’ve relaunched both cereals in updated forms. Target will even be stocking the entire line of monster cereals with retro box art. If there was ever a time to blow your entire paycheck on excessive amounts of cereal, it’s now.

General Mills first launched Fruity Yummy Mummy way back in 1987, when time machines were shaped like DeLoreans and Madonna didn’t have cankles. Advertised using a rainbow-colored mummy, the cereal featured frosted fruit-flavored cereal bits along with vanilla-flavored marshmallows. Sadly, the mummy-themed cereal lived a short life, being discontinued in 1993.

For his grand relaunch this Halloween season, the Yummy Mummy has received a facelift to conform to the style of the other monster-themed cereals. He appears as though he’s aged several years, and much like Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, his mouth is enormous.

Yummy Mummy was originally fruit-flavored with vanilla-flavored marshmallows, but this time around General Mills opted for an orange-cream flavored frosted cereal with “spooky-fun” marshmallows. I’m sincerely hoping that the “orange-cream” flavor of Fruity Yummy Mummy will remind me of the orange Creamsicles I grew up on

General Mills Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal Closeup

The cereal has an absolutely gorgeous artificial color. A rainbow of marshmallows permeates an even mixture of orange and red ghost-shaped cereal bits. There’s something so unnatural, yet beautiful, about an orange and red cereal. The folks at General Mills are cereal Renaissance painters, transforming the average cereal bowl into a canvas for a palette of Red No. 40 and Yellow No. 5.

It’s easy to imagine this cereal having an overpowering orange scent, but I was pleasantly surprised it had a subtle orange aroma mixed with that stereotypical grainy cereal smell. However, I couldn’t help but be reminded of orange-scented cleaning supplies just a bit. (In general, I try not to eat cleaning supplies, but one time, I gave into temptation. It’s a miracle the ambulance arrived in time.)

Fruity Yummy Mummy’s crunchy cereal pieces begin with a light orange flavor, slowly evolving into a basic grain-based cereal flavor. The taste seems almost candy-like — similar to generic orange-flavored lollipops. The standard cereal marshmallows (or more properly, “marbits”) add a boost of sweetness to every other spoonful. Both in texture and flavor, the cereal could be compared to an orange version of Lucky Charms.

As the name implies, Fruity Yummy Mummy is quite yummy, and I had no problem finishing an entire bowl. Though I found the cereal’s fruity sweet attributes enjoyable, be warned: cereal-eaters who dislike clearly artificial orange flavoring won’t fancy this one. Sadly, I can detect no aspect of “cream” in the taste. General Mills would have been better off making the marshmallows cream flavored. Even the addition of milk failed to drastically modify the flavor.

With its light orange flavor, the relaunch of Fruity Yummy Mummy is an excellent addition to General Mills’ monster cereals line. The only way the cereal could have been improved is through the addition of a more apparent cream flavor. Nevertheless, General Mills receives bonus points for bringing back two of their discontinued cereals.

Be sure to run out and grab a box of Fruity Yummy Mummy this Halloween season. Who knows if General Mills will ever bring it back?

Peace. I’m gonna chug some Orange Glo.*

*Editor’s Note: Do not drink Orange Glo!

Note: If you’re looking for Frute Brute or Yummy Mummy cereal, please use the General Mills product locator.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup (cereal only) – 130 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 28 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: General Mills Fruity Yummy Mummy Cereal
Purchased Price: $9.35*
Size: 9.6 oz. box
Purchased at: *Amazon
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: The relaunch of a discontinued cereal. Tasty orange flavor. Cereal Renaissance painters.
Cons: Scent partially reminds me of orange-scented cleaning supplies. Cream flavor cannot be detected. Dick Cheney shooting a man in the face.