I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, because honestly why the hell else am I eating all of this oddly fun factory food – nostalgia is a helluva drug. In the early 90’s little Sean E was a highly impressionable sprouting lad who loved his Nintendo, Raisinets, and professional wrestling. My favorite cereal at the time was WWF’s Superstars Hulk Hogan Cereal, which was a super basic sweetened puffed corn cereal that I’m sure would be exceedingly average if I had it today.
Image: The Wild Robot!
But back then, when Hulkamania was the SHIT the cereal tasted like magic. I can’t explain exactly what it tasted like but the best comparison I have today based on hazy memory is the underrated Post Honey Oh’s, which still slap. Fast forward to 2018 and my cereal nostalgia button has officially been switched with Super Mario Cereal, which combines mixed berry cereal with marshmallows.
Nostalgia is a helluva drug. Nostalgia probably drives 90% of my interest in limited edition snacks and junk food in general, dating back to those care free childhood days of packed lunches and water balloon fights. There are cherished snacks that have hit the graveyard, like my beloved Dunkaroos and Sonic Sour Cream Doritos, but every so often a formerly RIP’d product gets brought back to life. Bless the golden god’s of the cereal aisle because one of the all time greats is back – Post Oreo O’s.
Dunking a graham cracker into a tall cold glass of milk is one of the quintessential nostalgic past times of childhood. Maybe it’s because they aren’t chocolate or filled with crème, but for whatever reason I was allowed to eat graham crackers way more often than normal cookies as a child, and for me they are the ultimate companion to milk. I could do without milk and cookies in every other application, I’ll take some black coffee instead, but milk belongs with graham like Curry belongs on the Warriors, and the two compliment each other in soft subtle ways like no other. The top dawg brand of them all, of course, is Honey Maid, and in its glorious shadow all other crackers taste like mere imitators. It’s time for all other cereal’s to feel like imitators too, because the big boy has come to play with Honey Maid S’mores Cereal.
My experience with Kashi cereal goes something like this: I was told I needed to get some more fiber in my diet so I bought a box of GOLEAN Crunch! I had a serving or two, it tasted pretty good, and then I proceeded to have the most intensely loud and continuous gas of my life for the next two hours. I’m not kidding, I farted for HOURS, and I had my roommates try the cereal to make sure I wasn’t insane. Shortly after munching, they proceeded to audibly explode. I tried it again a couple of days later, and sure enough, I erupted just like before, and I decided in that moment to stay the hell away from Kashi…until now. Brand new to the healthy cereal aisle, and impossible for my cinna-dar to ignore is Kashi’s Cinnamon French Toast.
In the history of the breakfast cereal universe there may be nothing more boring than Shredded Wheat. Okay…there’s Grape-Nuts, but I actually find something endearing and delicious about those little fiber-packed granules all soaked and sloshy in milk. But in all seriousness, Shredded Wheat is real damn drab. The mini variety with a coating of “frosting” over the top are a definite improvement, but would anyone really take those over Lucky Charms, Honey Bunches of Oats, Fruity Pebbles, or even good ole’ Cheerios? Most likely not, but General Mills, as clever and crafty as ever, are turning to the age old solution of curing boredom at any given time or event – getting absolutely blasted. That’s right, just like your introverted uncle at the quinceañera, welcome to the party Cinnamon Toast Crunch Blasted Shreds.
Frosty the Snowman is my dude. I’m not sure if it’s normal for kids to latch onto Christmas characters like they would superheros or athletes, but as a youngster I certainly did, and Frosty will forever hold a place in my heart. Every time he came back to life was another chance for a birthday party, and birthday’s mean cake, and cake means fun, and thus, Frosty beats Rudolph. While the latest seasonal release from General Mills may not have an actual Frosty tie-in (Frosty has a button nose and is always smokin’ a pipe), it is proudly reppin’ one of his relatives, and my internal nostalgia switch began to melt as soon as I saw the swirly blue box for Cinnamon Vanilla Lucky Charms.
I’m gonna cut straight to the chase on this one – these Lucky Charms are not that spicy. The flavor is nearly identical to the established one kids (and adults?) have been chowing down on since 1964 – slightly sweetened toasted oats and crunchy dehydrated marshmallows. The key difference here is mostly aesthetic, as the usual array of rainbow colors have been replaced by cool wintery shades of blue and white. Snowmen, snowflakes, and snowballs cheerily swim in milk channeling a cool December day instead of the multicolored ending of a leprechaun hunt.
I’m kind of surprised the cereal pieces don’t have any bite, since the box touts “frosted cinnamon oat cereal” very proudly, and I get zero cinnamon. That being said, there is a bit of cinna-flair in the marshmallows. When I get a spoonful with three or more winter-clad ‘mallows I get a sweet hit of cinnamon, but it’s very brief, and nowhere near the intensity of Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Gingerbread Spice Life, or Cinnamon Pebbles. As for the vanilla, I think it goes without saying marshmallows have a vanilla-y flavor automatically, and I don’t detect any more or any less vanilla than I normally would from a box of Charms.
Look, this cereal may not have the big cinnamon flavor that I had hoped for, but I cannot deny that Lucky Charms are still, in fact, magically delicious. The slight presence of spice in the marshmallows takes nothing away from the original recipe, and adds just a touch of holiday whimsy the ‘mallow-heavy bites. I’m slightly disappointed but I’m charmed by Lucky, and I’m a sucker for anything with cinnamon in it, even if it’s just a gentle whisper.
Found at: Target ($2.99)
If I could eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups every day for breakfast and not feel like a pile of garbage, I probably would. My fantasy was somewhat fulfilled as a youngster when I was beckoned to the TV as another young white boy hollered at me “It’s Reese’s…for breakfast!” My head turned and my life changed, when Reese’s Puffs cereal was gifted to the world in the mid-90’s. From that moment on the Puffs became one of my favorite cereals, and up there with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Count Chocula, it has maintained a stronghold on my nostalgia-fueled favorites as I’ve gotten older. Whether tugging at our Reese’s Puffs memories or just realizing PB and chocolate is one of the greatest flavor combo’s ever, Cheerios came strong this autumn with a new member of their preferment lineup – Chocolate Peanut Butter.
The cereal has a great, sweet peanut butter-y aroma mixed with the whole oat goodness you know and love from Cheerios. Visually they’re very appealing with an equal amount of tan PB and brown chocolate O’s mingling together to create a wholesome version of one of the greatest duos of all time.
What’s most impressive about eating these Cheerios is the authentic peanut butter slick that coats the pieces of cereal. Peanut butter is the third ingredient on the label, and I was pleasantly surprised that the PB presence pushes beyond flavor and translates to a wonderful fatty texture as well. The pieces taste like peanut butter and chocolate but also very distinctly Cheerios, and much like Honey Nut and other sweetened varieties, the sugar content isn’t so much that it takes away from the base flavor of the notoriously heart healthy breakfast option.
In milk the peanut butter mouthfeel is much less apparent, but the smoothness is still in tact with the natural texture of the milk. Once fully submerged in the cold creaminess the lower sugar content as compared to Reese’s Puffs is more obvious, and it eats a lot more like an “adult cereal” than a cartoon kiddy classic. There’s a nice, genuine bitter cocoa flavor that pops up over the PB and compliments the fatty nutty qualities really well. The chocolate and peanut butter are balanced with neither really taking the other one over, and every bite has a solid distribution of both flavors.
Are Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios better than Reese’s Puffs? Nah. Nothing can top those sweet crunchy balls of goodness; but this is a great addition to Cheerios’ strong lineup of cereals that still feels more responsible than eating candy for breakfast. And the milk that’s leftover after a hearty bowl? Pure bliss.
Found at: Safeway ($4.99)