I gotta tell ya, I'm still scratching my head over this cereal. These days, I'm super skeptical of new cereal varieties, especially when it's for a cereal I wasn't all that wild about to begin with. I mean, Crunchy Nut is good, but there was something missing that didn't quite put it on par with my dearly departed Honey Crunch Cornflakes (still not over it, HCC FOREVER). Frankly, I kind of forgot it existed.
When I heard through the underground cereal hotline that there was a new variety out, I braced myself for another caramel disaster.
I'm not a big caramel fan. I don't hate it, but it's never my first choice. It joins the ranks of my other sweets preference oddities, like the fact that I cannot bear things a la mode (go ahead, gasp in horror) or that I prefer crispy, crunchy or crumbly cookies to soft, chewy ones. Related strange fact: I actually like Pay Day candy bars, despite the fact that they are, like, 50% caramel.
I discovered them in the basement vending machine freshman year of college and went through a phase of treating myself to one almost every day. It wasn't a pretty sight. Caramel and peanuts isn't a groundbreaking combination, but a tasty one nonetheless. But this isn't the real world of caramel and peanuts. This is cereal, where flavors get manipulated and distorted into flakes and clusters. So even if you do love caramel, there is no telling if this will translate.
Crunchy Nut "Caramel Nut" is described as caramel flavored corn flakes topped with roasted peanuts. Preparing to hate them, I dug in for a dry handful.
The first thing I got was the anticipated, bad caramel "flavor," like the kind in rice cakes. But something urged me to forge ahead. A few bites later, the caramel mellowed out to a welcome sweetness and I could actually taste the peanuts (HELLO PAYDAYS). The flavors began to blend in a delicious way.
But the best part about cereal is its crunch. The original version of Crunchy Nut was decently crunchy as well, there was a vague honey flavor I didn't love and didn't feel the need to press on. The Caramel flavor flakes have a hard, sugary coating, which was the very best part of Honey Crunch Cornflakes. While I was "deciding if I liked them" I took down about a third of the box in dry handfuls. Then came the test: how would this cereal behave in milk?
Any vestiges of bad caramel flavor disappears in milk, leaving behind a sweet, super crunchy cereal that can only be described as addictive. For one brief moment, I really felt like I was eating Honey Crunch Cornflakes. It was so freaking delicious. I was so happy.
More than one person at SEHQ mentioned they would love this cereal crumbled on top of ice cream, and that this was definitely more of a dessert than a breakfast cereal. It was also pointed out that this is possibly one of the sweetest cereal milks in existence. I found that pouring a massive bowl and cutting it with a generous amount of Grape Nuts provides the perfect balance. I can't believe I'm saying this about a caramel cereal, but I would buy this again.
Has anyone tried this? Thoughts?
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.