Princess cereal face-off

CerealizabowlSome people are all about wine — they know how to sniff it, taste it, savor it. Others are foodies. They know the taste of every obscure spice you never even knew existed. Me? I’m all about morning grains. Welcome to the latest installment of Cerealizabowl, my occasional series documenting my lifelong love of breakfast cereal.

Today I seek to answer a question first posed by the Evil Queen in 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: “Magic mirror on the wall, which is the fairest princess cereal of them all?” I recently spotted two new cereals in the Best Aisle of the Grocery Store, each featuring a different Disney princess. Me being me, I had to try them both. Would they sing “Be Our Guest” in my breakfast nook? Or would they make me proverbially prick my finger on a spindle and fall asleep until lunch?

Disney Princess Cereal
prod_img-6465515_belleMy three daughters love the princesses — any princess, be it Belle, Leia, or Peach, so I knew they’d love this cereal. As for myself, I wasn’t so sure. At first glance, this is a YALCC — Yet Another Lucky Charms Clone. Oats, marshmallows of different shapes and colors… does Lucky the Leprechaun have a lawyer? Maybe he filled his pot of gold with the spoils of many a successful copyright lawsuit?

But Disney Princess cereal has a new twist. It’s strawberry flavored! This, too, has been done before (Strawberry Cheerios, anyone?), but it’s so tasty, I don’t mind a bit.

The real joy of Disney Princess cereal comes in its marketing. First, Kellogg’s took a play from the 1990s comic book market and released this cereal with four different covers, I mean boxes. Each one features a different princess: Belle, Ariel, Jasmine, or Rapunzel. Do you think my daughters were satisfied with just one? Oh no, they needed all four.

However, the part that thrilled me most was each box featured a “prize.” This was a great throwback to the days of a toy in every cereal box. When I was growing up, the first thing I did upon opening a box of cereal was root through it in search of the included toy. Most cereals don’t offer toys inside the box anymore, which is a shame because passing on traditions to our children is important, you know? Though the prizes were simply items to cut out of the back of the box (a bookmark, a picture frame, a tiara, and a doorknob decoration), I appreciated the effort.

IMAG0443Disney Moana cereal
I know Moana isn’t technically a princess, but as Maui himself says, “If you wear a dress and have an animal sidekick, you’re a princess.” And for the purpose of this cereal face-off, she needs to be a princess, because while strawberry Lucky Charms Disney Princess cereal is good, Moana cereal is awesome.

Moana cereal is made of corn puffs rather than oats, and its pieces are larger, puffier, and much airier than Disney Princess cereal. But what really sets it apart is the taste.

I don’t have the most discriminating palate in the world. (Case in point: my favorite food is breakfast cereal.) I can’t put a bite of food into my mouth and instantly recite all of its ingredients the way my wife can. So it wasn’t so strange that I couldn’t place what Moana cereal tasted like when I first took a bite. But neither could I with the second bite, the third, or even the first bowl. The only words that came to mind were: wow, oh man, and nom nom nom.

Eventually, I decided it tasted like raspberries, but now I think it’s more of a vanilla taste. Either way: delicious. And after you add milk to it? Well, remember the old commercials where milk is poured into Lucky Charms and a rainbow instantly sprouted right out of the bowl? That actually happens when you add milk to Moana cereal. Whoever made this cereal can rightfully smile upon us and say, “You’re Welcome.”

I should also mention I did not even get a bite out of the first box of this cereal that entered my house. My kids loved it so much, they devoured it all in one breakfast. Good kids, all of them — darn good kids. They’ve come to appreciate the finer things in life.

Girl Scout cookies for breakfast

Halloween is all about candy and Thanksgiving is all about pie, but Christmas is all about cookies. By the time January comes around, most people are all cookied out. On top of that, the New Year is when resolutions of healthier lifestyles are most common. January is probably the least cookie-friendly time of the year.

So it’s always particularly impressed me that the Girl Scouts choose January as their cookie season. It’s like they want to give themselves the biggest challenge possible. “Sure, ladies, we can sell a million boxes of these cookies. But can we do it right after Christmas? Can we sell them outside of Wal-Mart to folks going inside to buy new workout clothes?” They can, and they do!

imag0437And now Girl Scout cookie cereal is a thing!

Thin Mints
The moment I opened my box of Thin Mints cereal I noticed it smelled exactly like Thin Mint cookies. Blindfolded, I wouldn’t have been able to differentiate the cookies from the cereal.

Regarding taste, the cereal tastes basically the same as the cookies. The only difference is in texture. The cereal is a bit drier than the cookies, probably because of the lack of frosting. Eating it with milk helps with this. And the cereal has a puffier, more airy texture than the cookies. In other words: just as minty, but not as thin. And I am quite OK with this.

It’s a good thing the taste is so similar to the classic cookies because as a cereal, there isn’t much variety in your bowl. There’s no mix of cookie pieces and marshmallows, for example. It’s just Thin Mints, for better or for worse. I’m not sure what you could add to this to provide additional variety. I can’t imagine the mintiness of the cereal would make it work well with berries or bananas. But this cereal is good enough that I’m willing to have more to try out a few possibilities.

Caramel Crunch
I can’t give the same praise to Caramel Crunch. This cereal is supposedly inspired by Samoas cookies, at least based on the fact that a Samoa is right there on the box. But if it came in a generic yellow box with nothing but the word “CEREAL” pasted across the front of it, darned if I’d be able to link it to Girl Scout cookies in any way.

Caramel Crunch doesn’t look or smell like Samoas. It’s all caramel, with just a tiny hint of chocolate. Is caramel or chocolate the first thing you think of when you think Samoas? I wager you first think, “Coconut!” But there’s no coconut to be found here.

This was just bland. I found myself wishing I had some Cocoa Puffs to mix together with it. I ended up just adding some Thin Mints to my bowl, which made it better, but only because now it tasted like Thin Mints. The caramel flavor disappeared.

So General Mills is .500 on Girl Scout cookies cereals, which is still well above the Mendoza line. Don’t miss Thin Mints, but take the money you’d spend on Caramel Crunch and give it to the girl on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store for a box of Samoas.