It was an epic morning for Leandra, and I'm sure she'll be sharing her opinion in due time, but here's the thing. Human tastes are fallible.
As a young woman who's lived a life obsessed with cereal, her tastes are tainted. She's got clear favorites, clear likes and dislikes already strongly established in her mind. I mean, how could, say, Great Grains stand a chance when tasted side by side with her beloved Grape Nuts and Fruity Pebbles?
In an attempt to give all of the cereals a fair shake, we decided to get the opinion of the only cereal virgin in the joint, namely, this guy:
He accepted the job with great humility and an appropriate amount of gravitas. The weight of responsibility rested squarely on his wrinkly shoulders as he was semi-obediently led away to the far corner of the office while samples were prepared.
He'd be tasting the following cereals:
- Fruity Pebbles : fruit flavored flaked rice cereal that rocks your whole mouth. Hambone likes colorful toys. Would the multicolored cereal grab his attention first?
- Lightly Frosted Shredded Wheat :100% natural whole grain spoon-sized wheat square. These squares vaguely resemble the size and shape of his normal dog treats. Another strong contender.
- Grape Nuts : The classic whole wheat and barley cereal, virtually unchanged since 1897. Hambone is partial to the classics.
- Pebbles Boulders : A new offering from the Flintstone line of cereals, this one features "wholesome, sweetened cereal" in Stone Age caramel apple flavor. Definitely the odd one out, but it does resemble puppy kibble, and has tiny dog bone shaped green bits. We'll see if Hambone's nose knows.
- Great Grains : A lightly sweetened mixed whole grain cereal with dates, pecans, and raisins (don't worry, not enough raisins on the plate to harm him!). The definite "healthy" option of the bunch. Hambone's not much of a health nut, but then again, he's never had a date, so we'll see if the prospect entices him.
Each cereal was placed on its own plate arranged in a semi-circle on the opposite end of the office. We stepped away from the plates so as not to distract him while he made his initial picks.
With everything set, we released Hambone and allowed him to bound towards the cereal and make his selections. Here's what went down.
First things first, he leapt straight for the Grape Nuts. A dog after Leandra's heart. "Hambone and I had never eaten cereal together so to be honest this was a shock," said an uncharacteristically reticent Leandra, clearly trying to hold back the tears of joy that were effected by Hambone's solidarity. "I was deeply impressed to see him bypass the gimmicks of color and shape and head right for the hardworking honest goodness of Grape Nuts."
He kept up his healthy streak by passing over the fruity pebbles and heading towards the Great Grains. I'm so proud of you, little pup!
Things took a bit of a downturn as he left half of the grains on the floor and instead turned towards the Pebbles Boulders, but here's where things got really interesting. Rather than just downing the whole plateful, he picked out the brown boulders, eating each and every one of them before touching a single green bone. What was the meaning of this? Was he performing a finish-the-meatloaf-and-leave-the-broccoli maneuver, eating the delicious boulders and putting off the icky bones to the end, or was he perhaps pulling a Lucky-Charms-leave-a-bowl-of-100%-marshmallows-for-the-end move, saving the best parts for last?
The world may never know.
After returning to polish off the Great Grains, he finally turned towards the shunned Pebbles and Shredded Wheat, alternating between them until the plates were clean.
In the end, we can pretty safely say that 100% of the cereals we tested are Hambone-approved, but he's a health-conscious little pup at heart.
Leandra leaves us with this thought: "Clearly the fame and glory of Serious Eats has not gone to his head, he's a simple guy with simple tastes, choosing a healthy, protein filled cereal that shows he's a man of the people. I could kiss him on the mouth."
Er... that's dog of the people, LP. Dog.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Managing Editor of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.