Praise the junk food Gods, cinnamon is now officially a trend. Apparently after the success of late 2015’s fantastic Cinnamon Bun Oreo’s, every player in the snack game is trying to sprinkle their goods with the sweet sweet bark of cinny. This plays into my personal preferences brilliantly and I would be content if this trend never dies. I’m not someone that eats a ton of sugary breakfast cereal but the end of last year saw two companies put spicy spins on their cereals that I couldn’t deny. Kellogg’s dropped Cinnamon Frosted Flakes and a couple of weeks later Post came through with Cinnamon Pebbles. I got boxes of each as soon as I could find them and waited for the ultimate moment to do a side by side battle. No, I don’t imagine either of these could dethrone Cinnamon Toast Crunch as the cinna-GOAT, but how do they compare at least to each other?
Opening the Cinnamon Frosted Flakes the smell is immediately very sweet and swingin’ with a strong cinnamon aura. Everything about this smell is autumn – spicy, vanilla, and almost creamy like a cinnamon bun icing. Eating the cereal dry has that signature Frosted Flakes crunch with a sweet corn finish, but not nearly as much cinnamon as I had hoped and had anticipated when drowning in its beautiful smell. The aftertaste has a slight cinnamon sting to it but my immediate reaction is that its spice-level is lacking and overpowered by the sweetness level of the cereal itself.
When combined with milk it’s unfortunately more of the same experience. There is a light cinnamon flavor that gets amped up in its creaminess by the milk, playing off of that icing essence from the cereal’s smell, but still fails to deliver on overall taste. The bowl eats and crunches just like a bowl of classic Frosted Flakes, with a slightly more complex spice undertone. The cinnamon here plays more of a co-star role to Tony’s original recipe rather than take the product in a new direction. That being said, Frosted Flakes is still one of the best sweet breakfast cereals around, and this is not any less good than the original, just not steering into any uncharted territory.
Opening up the box of Cinnamon Pebbles there is far less of a cinnamon smell, almost no notably discernible smell at all – just a hint of spice mixed with cereal box cardboard. Eating this one dry, however, was a pleasant surprise. Still not over the top with cinnamon, but the texture is light and crunchy with a slightly spicy buttery finish that is much less sweet than its fruity and cocoa flavored siblings.
When combined with milk these puffy little pebbles SING. A much stronger cinnamon smell comes from the bowl with the added moisture, and the airy light crunch aided by the creaminess is an absolute delight. While still not smacking me in the face with cinnamon intensity, the pebbles are significantly less sweet and give breathing room for the spice elements to do their job. A natural, earthy sweetness drives the flavor forward with a lush round buttery flavor that lingers on the tongue like cinnamon sugared toast. Everything that I liked about this flavor dry is heightened in milk and is extra delicious because I’ve never had a cereal like this before.
So, which cereal is better? This ended up being much easier than I thought, with Cinnamon Pebbles being the runaway winner. There is nothing bad about Cinnamon Frosted Flakes, there’s just also nothing particularly special or new about it, either. Both cereal’s have the same sugar content, at 10 grams per serving, but somehow that wild tiger sprinkled some crazy sweet dust over his spice and the desired cinnamon effect gets lost. As a much bigger fan of cinnamon and peanut butter flavored things, the Cinnamon Pebbles bring a significantly more interesting option to the breakfast cereal game that is new and hopefully a permanent addition to their lineup.
Cinnamon Frosted Flakes: 7.5/10
Cinnamon Pebbles: 9/10
UPDATE: After a side by side taste test, it must be noted that Cinnamon Toast Crunch is still the king of the cinnamon cereal game. It’s sweeter, butterier, and more true to the spicy/sweet balance that this type of product should deliver. When tasted in tandem, the Cinnamon Pebbles revealed a deeper, richer cinnamon flavor that makes the cereal just as good if not better than I thought it was before, and the Cinnamon Frosted Flakes stayed mostly the same with the base frosted component still dominating the overall experience.