Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cereal Profiles, Entry 1

Cereal is, with little question, in it’s own sub-category of snacks.
It can be eaten as a meal and it can be eaten as a snack, but it’s never quite wholly one or the other.
Now there are certain brands of cereals that clearly excel more in snacking aptitude, but I’d like to reserve those fetishes for later, more focused discussions.

I was the type of kid whose parents wouldn’t let him get sugar cereals for breakfast. The best I could get was Honey Nut Cheerios and occasionally Frosted Flakes (when it became clear that I was just going to pour spoonful after spoonful of sugar on my Corn Flakes to try to get the same effect.) I was bitter at the time, and I had my sugar cereal retribution in my late teens to early twenties, but now I am somewhat grateful to that routine they taught me.
Recently I’ve felt I need something that resembles something substantial in the morning. Unfortunately, this means that Lucky Charms isn’t going to cut it. So to keep breakfast exciting, I hunt down rare, old healthy favorites or try new healthy looking stuff.
Recent Favorites:

Cracklin’ Oat Bran (Made by Kellogs) :
My family experimented with this a bit in my early teens. This stuff is really good, it’s nice and sweet and you can easily get really stuffed on it. Cracklin’ Oat Bran is a brown colored, squared O that is very thick and very hard. It is crunchy, but not in any light flaky way. The “Cracklin” can definitely be coming from the crunch sound coming from your teeth as you bite down. This is one of those cereals that feels like a borderline sugar cereal to me. It’s got the flavor and sweetness of a sugar cereal, but essentially, it is (rightly) marketed to an adult, health conscious audience. There are no fruity colors and no fun shapes. Sadly, there is no mascot.
The down side to this type of cereal is that the Os are so big and clunky that you can really only get 2 or 3 in each spoonful. In addition to that, they are so dense that you will also need a substantial amount of milk in your spoon or it will feel like you are eating dry food. I often will pour a bowl and then pour the milk way over the peak of the highest cereal bit in anticipation of this situation. Unfortunately, your stomach doesn’t know that that excess milk is a balance for the cereal in your mouth, and the milk will weigh heavy on you.
I recommend hunting down some Maple Brown Sugar Oat milk to have with this. The combo is insanely perfect and unbelievably good. There is no way that this combo can’t be considered a treat. Let’s get it Cracklin’.


Honey Graham Oh’s (Made by Quaker):
I know: made by Quaker?! Quaker makes decent cereals? Indeed.
I’m convinced that this is a version of Cap’n Crunch reshaped visually and marketed to the adult cereal market. They taste almost exactly like Cap’n Crunch except a little less light and airy. They’ll even cut up the roof of your mouth the more passionately you eat them, like Cap’n Crunch. Appearance wise, as the name states, they are shaped like Os. The middle of these “Oh’s” are crammed with more foodstuffs, possibly little oats? The flavor is marketed as being a mixture of graham and honey and oats, but whatever, they taste like a slammin’ sugar cereal.
In my travels I’ve found that boxes of these are incredibly hard to find. At the present, I only know of one place that sells them. Much like the Hostess Pudding Pies, I hadn’t seen Honey Graham Oh’s for probably over a decade until one random day I stopped into a bodega near my friend’s apartment in Fort Greene looking for cereal and found a box. I went nuts. My feeling on this, without having done any research, is that this product was probably not discontinued, rather demand for it in the areas that I have lived is pretty much non-existent. For all I know, Honey Graham Oh’s may be on the shelves of every supermarket in the mid-west.


Good Friends (Made by Kashi):
I have to talk about this for a second. Not because it’s a good cereal that I obsess about, because it’s not really even that good. I have to talk about it because of it’s box design. The box fronts of Kashi’s Good Friends cereal intrigued me and drew me in like a magnet for years as I perused the cereal aisle. Only recently did I actually step up to the challenge of trying them out; and let me restate IT IS NOT GOOD (I mean come on, they even advertise on the front that it is made up of “flakes, twigs, and granola”. TWIGS?! That’s what we would call the stuff Grape Nuts was made of when we were trying to emphasize how revolting it was. Why would you put it out there like that?)
I merely have to mention this because of the absurdity of the cover. The cover always consists of two people of different ethnicities hunched in real close together, smiling like it was payday and hugging their bowl of “Good Friends” cereal. For the longest time I would only see this in nature/health food stores, and looking at the cover I suspected that it was the intention of Kashi to make me FEEL like a better liberal while eating their cereal. In all honesty, I expected the cereal to be edible but not in the slightest bit exciting or rewarding. To my surprise, I discovered it is possibly less appetizing than Grape Nuts. Heed the words of The Snackmaster and stay away from this.
I apologize for this deviation from all things snacky, I just felt it had to be discussed.


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