Gallery: Taste Test: Instant Oatmeal, Maple Brown Sugar Flavor

The results
The results
Find out how Quaker compared to all of its competitors in the instant oatmeal scene.
 McCann's
McCann's
This conspicuously stuck out as the brownest. "The color's a bit creepy," said one taster looking at all the bowls lined up side-by-side. The dry mix resembled cocoa powder (according to the ingredients label, it's caramel color, maple sugar, and brown sugar). "Tastes like real maple," agreed a few tasters. Of all the brands we tried, this was the biggest maple bomb. And it tasted more real than many others.
Better Oats
Better Oats
Decent texture, though a bit on the gooey side. "Chunky like barley soup in a good way," said one taster. We appreciated how it wasn't overly sweetened, though it did have a smidge of an artificial maple aftertaste.
Three Sisters
Three Sisters
Granola with an identity crisis. It tasted like, well, wet granola. The oats are big and mixed with dried cranberries, flaxseed, barley, quinoa and rye. There's a lot to chew, but not much maple flavor. "Tastes healthy," said one taster. The nutrition facts are definitely more forgiving than a bowl, or even handful, of granola. One pouch is 2.5 grams of fat, 160 calories, and 5 grams of protein.
Kashi
Kashi
Sigh. Another one that didn't have us running for a second spoonful. Gummy texture with an unremarkable flavor. Not much maple happening here. Many of us are Kashi cereal fans, but this one didn't do it for us.
Kirkland Signature (Costco)
Kirkland Signature (Costco)
"Pretty bland," agreed tasters. We got some maple-scented Yankee candle aroma, but not much actual flavor. The texture is sticky. Costco sells it in their mega variety box (55 oatmeal pouches total) for only $10. Indeed a crazy value, but it didn't make our mouths very happy.
Nature's Path
Nature's Path
This was actually "Maple Nut," not just the straight MBS. Since we are pro-nut, we appreciated the added crunch from the few hazelnut flecks. The texture of the oats, however, was all clumpy and gooey.
Quaker
Quaker
You can't hide from us, Quaker. We could spot the ol' Quaker yet again. Watery and runny, it blasts you with super-sweet mapleness and a heavy hit of vanilla. Too sweet, agreed tasters. We'd recommend using their plain rolled oats, or even the Original flavor instant oatmeal if you must, and add a quick pour of real maple syrup.
365 (Whole Foods)
365 (Whole Foods)
Hello there, cinnamon! This one needs to ease up on the spices. We didn't note much maple either. The texture is unfortunately gluey and gummy. Overall it didn't hit the spot for us.
Trader Joe's (Winner)
Trader Joe's (Winner)
This had the least artificial mapley flavor of all the brands. It's sweet, that's for sure, but in a syrup-topped-pancakes kind of way. And the texture was the closest to what you get from the stovetop. The oats fluffed up in the hot water and didn't suffer from instant oatmeal's trademark gooeyness.