Disclaimer: I came up with this idea of face-offs based on the incorrect idea that Marshmallow Alpha Bits still existed, and my first face-off would be between it and Lucky Charms. Apparently it is not being produced anymore. I have never tried it and now I NEVER WILL. Crushing.
Several questions come to mind as we begin this face-off, but the most pressing is, does anyone care about either one of these cereals in the first place?
Lately, as I've been standing in the cereal aisle, my eyes keep returning to the lesser-loved Post cereals. Below the insanely popular Fruity and Cocoa Pebbles lie Honeycomb, Alpha Bits and Golden Crisp. I've always grouped these together as the "forgotten three" of Post sweet cereals.
I've already expressed my deep love of Honeycomb, which belongs nowhere near the bottom shelf and should have a holiday named after it. But the other two, with their odd faded colors and their sort of vintage, outdated looking mascots, have remained complete mysteries to me. When I took a closer look at Golden Crisp and realized how it is basically the same cereal as Smacks, I decided this needed further investigation.
So, how do these sugary, puffed-wheat competitors fare against each other?
First off, I'm just gonna say, the bear mascot is creepin' me out. I don't like the looks of his sleazy half-closed eyes.
Golden Crisp goes so far as to call itself "wholesome" sweetened puffed wheat cereal. Wholesome, eh? Hmm. The cereal holds promise—the little pieces of puffed wheat are an attractive toasty brown color with a bubbly, sugary surface. But there is an odd bitterness, a sort of chemical-y aftertaste. I hate this phrase, but it actually applies here: this is tooth-achingly sweet and nothing more. Maybe if Golden Crisp was the only sweetened puffed wheat cereal option out there, I would reach for it. But there was something missing and I had a feeling I would find the answer in a box of Honey Smacks.
Originally called Sugar Smacks, this was my dad's favorite sweet cereal growing up. It was renamed Honey Smacks in the 80's, when people suddenly realized they shouldn't be feeding their kids super sugary cereals. Obviously, honey is supposed to sound healthier.
Growing up, Smacks were never a hot commodity. The only contact I actually had with them was in mini variety packs, but the chocolate and fruity cereals far outshined them. It's been nagging somewhere in the back of my mind for years: Smacks is actually another wildly underrated cereal. And yet I never made the plunge to buy a box.
The cereal is lighter in color and sturdier in constitution than Golden Crisp. One bite and my decision was made; Smacks is utterly awesome.
Yes, it is extremely sweet, but it finishes out with a toasty flavor that evokes the feeling of a classic sweet cereal. "It tastes like a Saturday morning!" said my sister. And then we looked at each other, neither of us needing to say that our childhood Saturday mornings tasted nothing like the crisp, sugary little Smacks. I knew what she meant. In my opinion, this would be best served in a bowl with half Smacks and half Kashi. Cereal blasphemy or perfection? You decide.
Winner: Smacks, by a mile.
A note on the milk from a sweetened puffed wheat cereal: I believe this is the finest cereal milk out there. Personally, though I'm a big cereal milk fan, I do get grossed out by the grainy film of cereal that remains. Most cereal milk has some sort of thickness to it because the cereal disintegrates. But puffed rice cereals keeps itself together, even when it softens, so the milk remains just milk, simply flavored with delicious cereal sweetness. I'll take me a glass o' that over ice, please.
What say you, cereal lovers? Are these both duds? Anyone out there still buying Golden Crisp? Smacks fans, you with me?