When I mentioned this week's column topic to people, I got the same two reactions from almost everyone: "OMG amazing cereal" and "OMG do you know how fattening that cereal is?" Both are very true stories. And so we explore the delicious and dangerous world of Cracklin' Oat Bran.
My sister Giavanna knows how to do something called "exercise restraint" when it comes to food. She's into healthy eating, knows how to make good choices, and overall knows how to enjoy things in moderation. Which is why she, like many other well-meaning souls, have been made a fool by this cracklin' menace. While I was busy stuffing my gullet full of the obvious sugary offenders, she was attempting to be healthy and pick a cereal that had no colors or fun shapes, just sensible-looking brown rings. Poor thing thought it was a smart choice.
However, weighing in at 200 calories for 3⁄4 of a cup + being exceptionally delicious = countless bowls of cookie-granola bars (we all know the dangers of granola) and you got your freshman 15 taken care of.
Maggie offered a similar story: "Part of the excitement of going to college was definitely the access to unlimited frozen yogurt and cereal from those huge dispensers. It was totally acceptable to have a cereal course as part of every meal but what we didn't realize is that Cracklin Oat Bran is pretty much cookies in a bowl and so we packed on the pounds."
I never wasted my time with Cracklin' Oat Bran in my college years. (I was in a pretty exclusive relationship with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, except for those few weekends with Lucky Charms.) But trying the cereal again recently for the first time in a while, I went from one calm handful to "please get these away from me" in a matter of moments. Captivatingly good.
I'll let Giavanna describe it:
"The first time I encountered Cracklin' Oat Bran it was my freshman year at college. The Bran's demure dark brown shape and nubbly texture fooled me into thinking it was one of the healthier cereals. I'd arrogantly skip the clear plastic bins of Fruity Pebbles to pour myself bowls (and bowls and bowls and bowls) of that those oat-y, bran-y, crackly squares. Fast forward five months of college breakfasts later and my pants barely buttoned (and you can look right past the latenight vending machine Cheez-Its, the White Chocolate Mochas at the campus Starbucks and "wing night" at D-Hall). Let's just point to the real culprit: those sweet, daily, hearty bowls of Cracklin' Oat Bran. I didn't want to believe it but somehow in my heart and in my love handles, I knew that my precious COB had betrayed me. Make no mistake—those humble squares are packing an insane calorie count. Come to think of it, almost seven years have passed since I've eaten Cracklin' Oat Bran, but I can still remember exactly what it's like to eat it. It starts out substantial, not crispy or crunchy but, well, I suppose the texture when you bite into it can only be described "cracklin," and then soaks up the milk, making it almost like a saturated graham cracker and sort of, flavors the milk with a hint of cinnamon."
There is a strong tie between college and cereal and now we discover, more specifically with college, Cracklin' Oat Bran, and weight gain. Is moderation the solution, or does its extreme tastiness prevent that? Should one just treat it as mini cookies and eat in a few dry handfuls? Any Cracklin' Oat Bran lovers out there?