After the disappointing previous cereal roundup, my new finds didn't seem to promise a turnaround in quality. Both cereals involved flavors that are good in many other scenarios, but as a cereal flavor seemed suspicious.
My first reaction to Hershey's Cookies 'n' Cream was that I thought the name was odd. No "Cookies 'n' Creme Puffs" or "Krispers" or "Crunch" (actually I guess they'd get in trouble for that) - just simply "Cookies 'n' Creme".
My second reaction was... well, I didn't really have one. It had a giant "NEW!" on the box, so my Pavlovian response was to grab the box and put it in my cart.
The cereal pieces aren't coated like Reese's Puffs, they're more like flavored Kix pieces. The cereal itself isn't intensely sweet, like I had feared. It's sweet, to be sure, but just enough. My other concern was that the "creme" flavor would be super-powered, in order to be tasted over the chocolate.
Instead, the cereal is very well balanced - it actually does a good job of tasting like cookies and cream, instead of the "horrifyingly artificial vanilla flavor" I was anticipating.
Bonus: the milk tastes like Rice Krispies Treats Cereal milk.
[insert seal of approval here]
Despite almost every variety of Chex being awesome, I was wary of trying Vanilla Chex. "Vanilla" flavor in cereal is usually one of my least favorites. The vanilla tends to taste less like actual vanilla (or even vanilla extract) and instead tastes like that weird vanilla flavor you find in protein shakes.
As usual, apologies for the atrocious picture. Almost all of my cereal-eating is done in the middle of the night, so I can never take advantage of natural light. Instead, I take the pictures in artificial light, forcing my camera to admit, "I don't understand how to process this lighting, so here's a blurry, pink-tinted picture!" It's either that or have a gigantic flash spot in the middle of the box.
I guess the third option is, "learn about photography". But that sounds like effort, so "sort of blurry, inaccurately-colored" pictures it is!
Despite the picture not showing it very well, the box is quite nice looking. Mostly because I'm a sucker for purple. But the other big plus is that, for some reason, "blue" is the default color everyone uses for vanilla-flavored products. So bravo, General Mills, for throwing some purple into the vanilla mix.
Not literally, though. While a purple Chex cereal would have been awesome, they didn't actually put the color into the cereal itself.
Ah, there's my old friend, the flash spot.
The Chex pieces come in two varieties - standard Chex, and the completely covered Chex pieces that you see in their Muddy Buddies Chex Mix.
Despite the coated pieces looking like they will make the cereal insanely sweet, the sugar levels stay reasonable. Like Cookies 'n' Creme, in no way could Vanilla Chex be considered "lightly sweetened". But it doesn't come close to sweetness levels of many other cereals, where the prize inside should be a little bottle of ACT rinse.
I'm very happy with the cereal scientists who are pushing this new version of "vanilla". Both cereals have a Rice Krispies Treats Cereal-esque flavor. That cereal's flavor always seemed to err more on the vanilla side than the marshmallow side, so maybe that's the key for a good vanilla cereal.
As individual flavors, I'm usually not big on marshmallow or vanilla. But when the two of them get together and have a baby, that baby is, well not appetizing, I guess. It's harder than I thought to get that metaphor from its beginning to its end without entering all sorts of awful territories.
Point being, if all vanilla-flavored cereals are as good as these two, I will be very happy with more of them.
[insert seal of approval here]
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