Cereal Eats: The Legend of French Toast Crunch
There are many mysteries in the cereal world. The meaning behind the name "Grape Nuts," the question of why they discontinued Oreo O's, and what exactly is the deal with French Toast Crunch. Does it still exist? Did it ever exist? Does it compare to Cinnamon Toast Crunch? And how on earth could I ever get my hands on this elusive cereal?
Well, thankfully, cereal EXPERT Adam generously sent me a box. To be honest, this guy could run circles around me with his cereal intel and knowledge . I don't know how he got his hands on this box, and I don't want to know. But boy was I excited to receive it. (Thanks, Adam!!)
So, let's try to unravel this mystery. Wikipedia provided a couple of clues. Apparently, French Toast Crunch was introduced in 1995. Originally the pieces were made to look like mini slices of French toast, but were later changed to the same format as Cinnamon Toast Crunch. See visuals below.
The french toast "authenticity" of the first edition is rather appealing. But the second version looks far more delicious, those swirls of maple promise pulling me in. Unfortunately, both of these boxes vanished from U.S. cereal shelves in 2006*. Apparently it caused quite a stir in the cereal world. Meanwhile, up in Canada, they were quietly continuing to make this in its original form and recipe.
* In 2006 I was a college sophomore of the most unfortunate kind, too busy tanning myself to a crisp, draining my bank account for Forever 21 "going out tops," and gaining weight on a steady diet of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Smartfood Popcorn (the name got me every time: it's called Smartfood so what do you MEAN it's not healthy?). Anyway, I missed this French Toast Crunch news.
I'd love to be able to compare this to the Cinnamon Toast Crunch-esque kind that was briefly sold, but I'll have to rely on you all to tell me what that sweet mystery was like. I eagerly broke into the Canadian box and was delighted with the doll-sized toast slices. Erin wondered if the cereal began as tiny bread loaves and was cut into tiny slices. I'd love to believe this is the case.
Now, I've already spoken about my love of maple syrup, my extreme dislike of "pancake" syrup and how this fits into the world of cereal. I can understand why the cereal makers focused on the maple flavor, because most of French toast's appeal is its texture and strange cinnamon-egginess—factors that would be nearly impossible to capture in cereal. But I forged ahead, taking into account that there would be "fake" maple flavor involved.
Despite that factor against it, I will say that I like French Toast Crunch. The maple flavor is mild, the texture is nicely airy, and it's great in milk. Once in a bowl, the slices gather together, forming tiny loaf-type clusters. The cereal is sweet but not too sweet and appropriately crisp. I'm not clamoring for more but it's still a respectably tasty cereal and it's a shame that it can't be found on U.S. shelves.
As I write this, a desire grows deep in my heart. A phantom desire for a lost cereal that will never be found. I'm talking about that second version of French Toast Crunch, the one that resembled my beloved CTC but surely tasted different. It is a dream and nothing more.
What say you, serious cereal eaters? Can anyone tell me about the mysterious second edition of French Toast Crunch? Anyone making a trip up to Canada to grab a box of this stuff?
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.