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Cereal Eats: The Troubled Relationship Between Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

I'm going to make a controversial statement that may cause some of you to exit this post, disgusted and disillusioned: I don't care for Golden Grahams.

I've received scorn from many about this (and it may or may not have been at the root of a failed relationship) but I will stand my ground. On an unrelated, or perhaps a related, note, Cinnamon Toast Crunch is arguably the best cereal ever. And I am going to make one more controversial statement and say I think my love of Cinnamon Toast Crunch is what has turned me off from Golden Grahams.

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A square of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Golden Grahams.

Oh, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. An amazing cereal and dear companion. When I had no friends freshman year of college, you were right there next to me, accompanying me at every single meal. So good in milk, so good dry, something about the way your pieces soften in my mouth with just the right amount of crunch, the way it feels when that first touch of cinnamon-y sugar dissolves on my tongue....but I digress

My friends, let us look into this a bit deeper. At first I was going to pose the question Golden Grahams vs. Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but then I thought, is it fair to compare? Some people love them both. Are they similar enough to become mortal enemies? What does it all mean?

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While this thought was being formed, I figured I'd ask around SEHQ to get some opinions.

They are two essentially different things, right? I mean, one has a cinnamon-sugar coating, and the other doesn't. —Maggie

Can you really compare the two? I mean, I understand why you're doing it, but.. CTC is in the far dessert-y end of the cereal spectrum. It's the bowl you have after dinner instead of ice cream, but never just as breakfast alone. Unless it's your birthday. Maybe. Golden Grahams seems slightly less junky. Graham crackers in milk instead of what's basically churros in cereal form. Then there's the roof-of-mouth-scraping issue with each, though CTC sogs up more in milk, hence a lower scrape threat. But that's a separate conversation altogether (and a separate column, right Leandra?). —Erin

Both valid arguments. And yes, Erin. We will discuss mouth-roof-scraping issues in a future column.

For out-of-hand snacking, I really like the delicate crunch and sugary dust on CTC, but I don't like them in milk at all. The cinnamon-sugar all drifts away and the squares go soft really quickly, so that you're left with soggy cereal bits (with no sweetness) and super, super sweet milk. GG, on the other hand, are a little more sturdy and the flavor' in the cereal rather than just the coating, so they keep their integrity. —Carey

Another excellent point.

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Bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I was way more into CTC as a kid. I'm nostalgic for the days when there were three bakers who baked the CTC (that would be Wendell, Bob, and Quello). Then the other two bakers were dropped and Wendell became the only spokesman for the cereal. Then the fake colored swirl was added. I mean, I'm sure the cereal still tastes exactly the same, but I have trouble supporting a one-man operation like Wendell's. What happened to Bob and Quello? Were they dumped out on the street, their Graham-flecked aprons the only reminder they had of their former glory? Do they spend their time sitting under a broken street lamp doing shots of leftover cinnamon sugar-flavored milk to kill the pain? In my heart of hearts, I dream that perhaps some kind elves took pity on them and gave them jobs hauling flour and sugar around in the back of an E.L. Fudge factory. I guess that doesn't really answer your question though. They're like toast vs. cinnamon toast. I liked both as a kid. From a more realistic sense, what kid in their right mind would choose 'Cereal X' over 'Cereal X with extra sugar and cinnamon'? CTC is the obvious right answer. —Kenji

Wow. And this from a guy who claims he isn't that into cereal.

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Bowl of Golden Grahams.

My vote is for Golden Grahams. I hate the gritty texture of CTC, and also GG is like cookie crunch for graham cracker lovers (like me!). —Carrie

OK, Carrie, I guess I'm going to politely respect your opinion but only because I love your column so damn much.

Robyn claimed she's never tried either cereal. (!!!) Upon being educated, she also sided with Grahams, because, well, she likes graham crackers. Fine.

I have definitely gone through phases of eating boxes and boxes of Golden Grahams, but if I had to pit them against each other in a fight, CTC would win hands down. ┬áIt comes down to this—if you were offered a piece of cinnamon toast, freshly buttered and shaken up in a bag of cinnamon sugar, or a half-broken graham cracker from a cardboard box, which would you choose? Case closed.—Christine

A convincing closing argument.

Family Matters

I then asked my sister, knowing she is a GG lover (times like this I truly question the genetics of twins).

"I resent the either/or option in this question or the insinuation that a person can't be fully devoted to both cereals!" She told me "How can I be forced to choose between the sweet, grainy, powder-y light, dissolvable Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the hard crispy dependable just-sweet-enough graham-y honey-y Golden Grahams?! I will not choose! I love them both equally! I could eat GG as the meal and CTC as the dessert."

Then we almost came to blows.

So how similar are they really? As Kenji mentioned, allegedly CTC was indeed developed from GG. The square shape and light ridging is the same, but I suppose the similarities end there. Golden Grahams, made from whole wheat and corn, is hard and crunchy with a light glaze, that holds its own in milk. This is clearly what Graham lovers appreciate about it. Well, that and its weird, honey-kissed, graham-y taste.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch, made from wheat and rice, is crispy and light and super cinnamon-sugary. It turns soft in milk and releases it's cinnamon sugar, leaving behind a liquid that should be bottled and sold.

Well OK, to be fair, I suppose there is enough room in this world for both of them. But deep down I want to believe they're enemies and force you all to choose.

What do you think? Will you join me on the rightful side of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or side with the devoted and growing mob of Graham lovers? Is there enough room in your heart for both of them?

About the author: Aside from doing an awesome job with her role as Advertising Sales Manager, Leandra Palermo secretly harbors a lifelong passion with all things crunchy and served with icy cold skim milk. This column represents the culmination of that love affair.

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