There was a time when Cheerios was an ostensibly healthy cereal – bland and oat-y, but nothing special. Then came Honey Nut Cheerios, and there was much rejoicing from children. Finally, a cereal that they could sell to their parents as healthy, but that was actually delicious and nutritionally suspect (so much sugar!), though who could doubt the natural bona fides of the honey in the name? Lord knows I enjoyed a considerable amount of Honey Nut Cheerios in my youth, often purchased in Costco-sized quantities, while something as brazen as Frosted Flakes would have been shunned.
Enter 2018, where parents have internet access to paranoid clickbait sites that interview “nutritional experts” who claim that everything that isn’t GMO-free bee pollen is nothing but gussied-up poison with a marketing budget. Result: Honey Nut Cheerios have joined the banned sugary cereal category in many homes, including mine. Everything is different when you have kids.
So really, what does Cheerios have to lose by moving into increasingly suspect brand extensions. There have been other examples of Cheerios brand extension with mixed success – Apple Cinnamon Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, Frosted Cheerios. And now we have the logical next step in the cereal arms race: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios.
Reese has been wise to this combo for years, and they’ve been producing a Reese Puffs cereal for what feels like ages. In the interests of comparison and journalistic integrity, etc., I picked up a box of Reese Puffs at the grocery store, pretending not to notice the judgment of the cashier who must have assumed I was either going to feed these to children (reprehensible!), or that I was a grown man eating Reese Puffs at breakfast (and really, shouldn’t I know better?).
Armed with a full cereal bowl and a taste for chocolate and peanut butter, I anticipated your questions and tried to answer them.
What’s it taste like?
They do have a natural grain taste to them, even with the added sugar. Like with regular Cheerios, they’re scratchy with oats. You can taste the cooking (almost toasty), and there’s more of a dark chocolate intensity to them than I was expecting. With milk, the flavours combine and meld together as they sit in the bowl. I was surprised by just how intense the flavours were. It does taste a lot more grown up than Reese Puffs, like they were designed for an older palate. With Reese Puffs, you taste the corn right away, followed by sugar, then the strange texture of slippery peanut butter and crunchy corn pop. The Cheerios are far more complex. The chocolate flavour isn’t artificial at all, and there’s enough peanut butter to be present in every spoonful. They’re pretty damned good.
Do they get soggy?
Yup. You’ve only got maybe five minutes to finish a bowl before they become soggy. The sweet spot is maybe one or two minutes after first contact with milk.
Can you eat them dry by the handful, like you can with Honey Nut Cheerios?
Yes. While Honey Nut Cheerios have a crisp, crunchy sugar texture and a very limited range of flavours – sweet and oat – these are more nuanced. But they’re also far better in milk, which isn’t necessarily true of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Why are you doing this to your body?
Because chocolate and peanut butter are delicious together. And because if I don’t write about this stuff, who will? Besides, aren’t you the one who googled “chocolate peanut butter cheerios”?
Hey! You can’t turn the tables on me like that!
And that’s not a question. We’re done here.
Price: $5.29 for a 320-gram box at Safeway in Edmonton.
Value for Money: Just fine.
Availability: More limited than regular Cheerios, but also not hard to find. I see no indication that these are limited edition on the box, which probably means they’ll only become a limited edition if they fail to sell. #truth
Nutrition: 120 calories per 30 grams (3/4 cup). A more reasonable serving would be in the 240 calories range, without milk in the picture. Because who honestly eats only a 3/4 cup of cereal for breakfast? A cat could eat more than that. (Note: Do not feed this to your cat.)
Verdict: I’m impressed. These shouldn’t taste this good. I plan to buy some again as a treat. And when I do, I’ll have them with milk.