Cereal Eats: When Classic Cereals Try New Flavors, Fail
As I set out to write a rather negative review of my two favorite cereals, I was seized with guilt. I almost stopped writing it so many times but I had to get these confused feelings out into the world. As I've said before, classic cereals are branching out with so many new flavors. Sometimes this is a good thing, other times, a sorry miss.
New Frosted Toast Crunch
It's no secret that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is one of my all-time favorite cereals and arguably the most perfect cereal ever created.
A piece of CTC has a soft, square body and fuzzy coat of cinnamon sugar that melts the moment it hits your tongue. This coating swirls elegantly through the milk, in a perfect balance of cinnamon sugar. I could go on but, yeah, you get the point.
I was somewhat shocked and quite excited when I saw a new flavor of, well, Toast Crunch had come out: Frosted Toast Crunch.
Embarrassingly enough, I've never tried the quasi-mythical French Toast Crunch but trying the new Frosted Toast Crunch felt a bit like discovering a long lost sibling. In the days leading up to my first taste, I pondered many questions.
Was it simply frosted Cinnamon Toast Crunch? And if so, would it have a hard coating like Frosted Mini Wheats? What exactly is "frosted toast," and does it merit its own crunch?
The box describes it as "artificially flavored frosted vanilla squares dusted with cinnamon." Now, I'm a huge vanilla fan. But rarely does true vanilla flavor come through in packaged goods such as this, and I hardly expected Wendell the Baker to be scraping individual vanilla beans and leaving the lovely specks on the squares. (OK, a small part of me did expect that).
I respect a good sugary cereal but oh goodness, this one is just too much. Nothing but the flavor of store-bought frosting, that leaves your teeth aching and your tongue numb. After trying a few more handfuls and a bowlful with milk, I could feel myself warming to it, but it was only because of a small hit of "cinnamon dust."
So if that's the only good quality, why would I ever choose to buy this over regular/perfect Cinnamon Toast Crunch? That would be like Reese's coming out with cups filled with sugary paste with a small layer of peanut butter. I don't understand it and I don't want to. Just give me back my Cinnamon Toast Crunch and we'll forget this ever happened.
New Honey Bunches of Oats Fruit Blends
Another top cereal in my book is Honey Bunches of Oats. If I haven't said it before, Honey Bunches RULES. It gives a cereal lover the best of all worlds: crunch and texture, with a flavor balance of light sweetness and basic toasty goodness. It's filling enough to be a breakfast cereal, hearty enough to be a dinner cereal, and tasty enough to be a quick-snack bowl of cereal. But I will fully extol the merits of Honey Bunches at another time.
Here again we have an instance of a perfectly delicious cereal gone astray. Now, Honey Bunches of Oats varieties are not a new thing, and some of them are really great, but its two newest flavors, the Fruit Blends, did not win me over.
Crispy Peach and Crunchy Raspberry held promise—I like both of those fruits—but an aggressive whiff of candy-like peach hit me upon opening the box and almost deterred me from continuing. I wish there was more raspberry (which isn't bad) and a lot less peach. It's fruity and aggressive in all the wrong ways.
I was instantly leery of the Crispy Banana and Crunchy Blueberry flavor. My fears were confirmed when the flakes proved to be nearly straight-up banana chips. I tried the blueberry clusters alone, which weren't terrible on their own. But again, the fruit flavors were way too much and brought to mind fruity vitamins and Nutrigrain bars.
I'm sure there's an audience for these cereals, but I'll be sticking very close to my original Honey Bunches.
So the question: are cereal makers flying too close to the sun with these unprecedented flavors? There's a very fine line between great and terrible when it comes to cereal varieties. What do you all think? Any thoughts on love-or-hate varieties that you need to get off your chest?
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.