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New, weird cereals: If you've ever wanted to eat packing peanuts, here's your chance

New, weird cereals: If you've ever wanted to eat packing peanuts, here's your chance

Only $3 for 13 weeks

Spend some time looking at food pictures on Instagram, and you’ll notice a trend: foods being turned into other foods. There are cronuts, sushi burritos and burgers with ramen noodle buns.

But the fun isn’t limited to Instagram. It extends to the grocery store, with Oreos that taste like Swedish Fish, yogurt that tastes like key lime pie and something called dessert hummus.

And now, the trend has come to the cereal aisle, with products like Peeps and Hershey’s Kisses making their way to our breakfast tables.

So, with National Cereal Day (a real thing) on Saturday, we decided to taste-test 10 cereals based on already-existing products.

Joining me in this folly were Go designer Alison Buchli and former Go designer Jessica Thompson. We tried each cereal with and without milk. None were Insta-worthy, but there were a few standouts in the bunch.

CHIPS AHOY

Chips Ahoy

Chips Ahoy cereal

What they’re based on: Packaged chocolate chip cookies.

Do they resemble the actual product: Oh, yeah. The pieces of cereal look just like tiny cookies with chocolate chips.

Back-of-the-box copy: “If you love chocolate chip cookies — and seriously who doesn’t — try this chip off the old block!”

Taste: More chocolate than cookie, and that chocolate is more dark chocolate than milk chocolate. “It just tasted like a more bitter version of Cookie Crisp,” Alison said. It’s also a very dense cereal, which can fill you up quickly.

With milk: Cookies and milk still make for a great combo, even in cereal form. It helps cut down the density, too.

Verdict: Compared to Cookie Crisp, I’d say this is the more cookie-like cereal. A whole bowl might be a bit much, but a handful makes for a good snack.

JOLLY RANCHERS

Jolly Ranchers

Jolly Ranchers cereal

What they’re based on: The rectangular, fruit-flavored hard candies.

Do they resemble the actual product: Kind of. The cereal pieces are rectangular and the colors match, but the shape is a bit fatter than an actual Jolly Rancher.

Back-of-the-box copy: “We’ve got a hunch that you’ll love it a bunch … ’cuz we’ve got that fruity crunch.”

Taste: While they smell a lot like Jolly Ranchers, they taste most like the Crunch Berries in Cap’n Crunch. Which is fine, if you want a box of cereal that’s entirely Crunch Berries — a product that already exists.

With milk: Didn’t make much of a difference.

Verdict: They’re perfectly edible with or without milk, even if they’re basically just a repackaged version of a cereal that already exists. They’re maybe a little less fruity than Crunch Berries, if you’d prefer a toned-down flavor in your ultracolorful cereal.

EGGO

Eggo

Eggo cereal

What they’re based on: The frozen waffles originally marketed as Froffles.

Do they resemble the actual product: I’m pretty sure waffles shouldn’t have this many holes in them.

Back-of-the-box copy: Rather than marketing copy, the back of the box has a maze and a word search, along with a recommendation to try the cereal on top of ice cream. Bold move.

Taste: Great. If you miss Waffle Crisp, which was discontinued in 2018, this is a serviceable (and maybe even superior) alternative. It’s got a light texture and a strong maple syrup flavor, without being too sweet overall.

With milk: It softens up a bit, and gives you delicious maple-flavored milk. “It is nearly perfect after soaking in milk for a minute,” Jessica said.

Verdict: “10/10 would eat again,” Alison said. We don’t know how long these will be available, but if you need to fill a Waffle Crisp-sized hole in your heart, stock up.

(Note: These also come in a blueberry-flavored variety, which we didn’t try.)

POP-TARTS FROSTED BROWN SUGAR CINNAMON

Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts cereal

What they’re based on: The breakfast pastry that you’re supposed to warm up in a toaster but I always ate cold because I’m a lazy pile.

Do they resemble the actual product: Not really. They’re rectangular, but they lack the frosting found on regular Pop-Tarts. Weirdly, the box touts these as being frosted, but they’re definitely not. They do have some dots of brown sugar and a bit of sugary coating on them, which maybe counts?

Back-of-the-box copy: “Unleash ridiculous levels of Pop-Tarts flavor with Filling & Frosting in every bite.” (Random capitalization theirs, not mine.)

Taste: Among the best we tried. They’re sort of like a thinner version of Krave cereal, with a bit of brown sugar filling in the middle. “The brown sugar-cinnamon flavor is perfectly sweet and doesn’t taste artificial,” Jessica said.

With milk: Not ideal. The outside of the cereal softens quickly, but the inside, which is a bit gel-like, stays the same consistency. It makes for a weird clash of textures.

Verdict: Frosting claims aside, these are definitely worth trying. But maybe skip the milk and eat them dry. “I could see myself eating this cereal with no milk, just as a snack,” Alison said.

(Note: These also come in a frosted strawberry variety, which we didn’t try.)

PEEPS

Peeps

Peeps cereal

What they’re based on: The Easter-themed marshmallow candies.

Do they resemble the actual product: The cereal itself doesn’t — it’s basically a toned-down version of Froot Loops. But it does have marshmallow pieces that look like chicks and bunnies.

Back-of-the-box copy: No fun marketing copy. Instead, there’s a knock-off version of the Candy Land board game, in which players compete to reach the Peeps-tastic Basket. (Spoiler: It’s full of Peeps.)

Taste: Bland. The cereal bits kind of just taste like nothing, and there are too few marshmallows to make up for it. “The marshmallows carry all the flavor in this mix,” Jessica said.

With milk: Equally as meh.

Verdict: Probably the biggest disappointment of everything we tried. I didn’t necessarily expect this to taste good, but I did think it would taste like something. If you want a marshmallow cereal, skip this and just get Lucky Charms.

HONEY BUNS

Honey Buns

Honey Buns cereal

What they’re based on: The Hostess snack cake of the same name.

Do they resemble the actual product: They look just like little sweet rolls, though maybe a little misshapen.

Back-of-the-box copy: “It’s a Honey Bun cereal kind of day!”

Taste: Sugar, with a sugar glaze and more sugar sprinkled on top. These are incredibly sweet, and although the back of the box promises “a wisp of cinnamon,” I couldn’t taste any.

With milk: It cuts down on the sweetness a bit, which definitely helps.

Verdict: Whether you’ll like these really comes down to your tolerance for sweet things. “I think an entire bowl would make me sick,” Alison said, but I didn’t mind them with milk. But maybe eat them with skim instead of whole.

HERSHEY’S KISSES

Hershey's Kisses

Hershey's Kisses cereal

What they’re based on: The chocolate treats in the shiny wrappers.

Do they resemble the actual product: I’ll let Alison take this one: “Looks like the poop emoji.”

Back-of-the-box copy: “Milk & chocolate — the perfect couple.”

Taste: Very chocolaty, like a stronger version of Cocoa Puffs. “These are way more cuckoo for cocoa than Cocoa Puffs,” Jessica said.

With milk: It doesn’t make the cereal any less chocolaty, but it does leave you with some great chocolate milk at the end.

Verdict: If you want something stronger than Cocoa Puffs (and don’t mind the shape), give these a try.

DRUMSTICKS

Drumsticks

Drumsticks cereal

What they’re based on: The chocolate-dipped ice cream cone.

Do they resemble the actual product: Not even a little. Instead of an ice cream cone-shaped cereal, this is basically three cereals packed into one box: Golden Grahams, Cocoa Puffs and a flat version of Kix.

Back-of-the-box copy: “The taste of the original sundae cone now in your cereal bowl.”

Taste: Remember how I said this is basically three cereals in one box? That’s what it tastes like, too. The Golden Graham pieces (allegedly waffle cone bits) are maybe slightly less sweet than actual Golden Grahams, but the “cocoa nuggets” are just Cocoa Puffs. The “ice cream-flavored scoops” are just plain puffed corn — no hint of vanilla.

With milk: It really just further highlights that you’re eating three different cereals together.

Verdict: The cone and cocoa pieces aren’t bad together, but the ice cream pieces add nothing. You could just buy separate boxes of Golden Grahams and Cocoa Puffs and mix at your leisure, if that combination appeals to you.

TWINKIES

Twinkies

Twinkies cereal

What they’re based on: The golden, spongy snack cake that’s been around for decades. (And, according to urban legend, has a shelf life of decades.)

Do they resemble the actual product: A little bit. The shape is right, but the cereal bits aren’t nearly as yellow as the snack cakes. Which, really, is probably a good thing.

Back-of-the-box copy: “The snack cake golden child is now a cereal.”

Taste: This was, by far, our consensus pick for the worst of these cereals. It’s way too sweet, and the texture is all wrong. “I believe I used the words ‘packing peanut’ a lot in describing them to others,” Jessica said. The pieces also have a powdered-sugar coating that rubs off on your fingers, sort of like Cheetos dust.

With milk: It helps, actually. The milk strips that powdered-sugar coating, making them a little less sweet, and softening the cereal helps with the textural problems. They’re still not great, though.

Verdict: These are weird. Like, really weird. Like, “I need to go approach everyone in the office and tell them to try these” weird. Incidentally, doing this revealed a few people who actually liked the taste, so your mileage may vary with these. Try at your own risk.

REESE’S PUFFS

Reese's Puffs

Reese's Puffs cereal

What they’re based on: The perfect marriage of chocolate and peanut butter that is Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Do they resemble the actual product: No, but these tout themselves as puffs, not cups, so it’s forgivable. They mostly just look like Cocoa Puffs, but with some lighter pieces thrown in.

Back-of-the-box copy: Clearly comfortable with its place in the cereal aisle (it’s been around since 1994), the Reese’s Puffs box just has instructions for making “actual reality goggles” on the back of the box. “It’s just like real life … because it is!”

Taste: Chocolate and peanut butter, in cereal form. It was a reliable go-to after a day of tasting some pretty odd cereals — Alison described it as a “palate cleanser.”

With milk: Go for it. You end up with something akin to Cocoa Puffs milk, but with some peanut butter flavor.

Verdict: There’s a reason this cereal has been around for more than 25 years. It “takes me back to Sunday mornings after a sleepover at my middle school BFF’s house,” Jessica said.

402-444-3118, cory.gilinsky@owh.com

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