DAY 30: Cheeri-Oh My Goodness.
In the 76 years since first being introduced, Cheerios have captured the hearts, minds, and stomachs of the American public. Nearly 338 million boxes (total of all varieties) are produced/shipped annually, which is astonishing when you compare that to the present population of the United States at roughly 326 million.
With one of every eight boxes of cereal sold in the United States being this iconic breakfast brand, we have to consider what makes them so special. While taste and relative health are obvious reasons, there is one that is often overlooked: nostalgia, the emotion and marketing tool that I’ve already written about at length in this blog.
It is incredible to think that the same emotion can draw us to pumpkin spice, to long for Lisa Frank pencil boxes, and lament the retirement of AOL Instant Messenger (and the away message).
But how does that fit here? For generations of Americans, Cheerios were our first solid food. They held the unique distinction of being both a foodstuff and plaything as we sat in our high chairs, honing our fine motor skills and learning how to be a part of a family meal. As grown-ups, they’re our safety food - something you snack on when you’re sick, tired, or just too lazy to cook or order in.
So in the deep stages of pumpkin fatigue, it was only right that I turned to Cheerios for my penultimate review.
DAY 30: Cheeri-Oh My Goodness.
Item: Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
Purchase Location: Walmart
Pumpkin Spice Cheerios is made from real pumpkin puree and a delicious blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. It’s fall in a box! This seasonal flavor is going to be a pantry staple…but make sure to grab a box as it’s only available for a limited time.
Before I review, I want to share a few fun facts that I learned about Cheerios while researching for this review:
- The original name was CheeriOats, not Cheerios. It was changed in 1945.
- The first spinoff of the original flavor was actually Cinnamon Nut (a flavor that is no longer offered).
- Honey Nut only came along in 1979, and didn’t become the most popular selling variety until 2009!
- Cheerios production is finished by shooting them through a “puffing gun”. I don’t want to make a mistake with the description, so here’s an excerpt from the General Mills website:
Going into the forty guns which look like heavy steel barrels, the cereals are damp and soggy. The barrels are clamped shut and revolved as the heat and pressure in them slowly rise. When the pressure has reached about 100 pounds, a workman flips the gun over, aims it at a wire screen and pulls a trigger. The gun goes boom! and a shower of Kix or Cheerioats hits the screen like hail.
It took me a while to hunt down this cereal, and I always seemed to make it to the store right before they got a new shipment or after they sold out. So when I noticed a display at Walmart on one of my pumpk-expeditions, I was thrilled. I’ve kept it secure in the pantry for weeks, waiting for Halloween-eve.
Opening the box (before the bag), I noticed a faint smell of pumpkin spice. I was both intrigued and worried. If I could smell it while the bag was still sealed, how strong would the flavoring be?
(Carefully) opening the bag, I smelled the full bouquet of pumpkin spices. The cereal pieces look much like Honey-Nut Cheerios, but with a friendly burnt orange tinge. I decided to go with the same 2 cups cereal to 1 cup of milk ratio that I used for the Pumpkin Os review. But before I poured the milk, I tried a handful dry.
At first bite, these are outstanding. The pumpkin taste comes through first and foremost, providing a mellow baseline. It’s followed by a complement of spices that add depth to the profile. I was surprised by how well the flavor translated, and it honestly makes the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Os seem worse by comparison. I added the milk and took another bite. The richness of the milk enhanced the taste and completed the flavor.
The coating of flavor was just right. I feel like any more would have made it too pumpkin-y, and any less would have made it bland. The Os kept their crunch even after several minutes submerged, and the pumpkin-flavored cereal milk was like a dessert after finishing the cereal.
I don’t know what else to say about this product other than it is very, very good. It’s so good, in fact, that I am going to be knocking off a pumpkin from the Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Os because they taste mediocre by comparison.
If you can, go grab a box. It’s worth the trip.
Final Rating: 5 /5 Pumpkins.