The only thing I love more than bread is bread that lets me pretend I’m eating healthy.
That’s why banana bread and zucchini bread were the butten-laden cornerstones of my developmental years’ food pyramid. That’s why I’ve preserved my grandma’s mathematically perfected zucchini bread recipe into adulthood. And that’s probably why my gut is steadily taking the shape of a banana bread loaf, protruding through my shirt like T-1000 through a wall.
Even though a zucchini bread cereal is as likely as North Korea letting pigs into their no-fly zone, I’m ecstatic that we’ve seen a recent resurgence of banana bread cereals. First we got Canada’s Banana Bread Shreddies, and now fan-favorite Banana Nut Cheerios are back from whatever Davy Jones’ Pantry General Mills condemned them to for the past year or two.
And yes, I know it’s called Banana Nut Cheerios and not Banana Bread, but we all know that’s “banana nut” is a term invented by Big Bread to keep even the carb-conscious in the palm of their crust-caressing hands. But enough conspiracy: let’s slice, peel, and crack open a box!
By (Curious) George, I think we have a winner!
This stuff smells and tastes uncannily like banana bread. in fact, Banana Nut Cheerios are so accurate to their source material, I fear we may soon see out-of-work grannies picketing cereal aisles, ruthlessly dumping batter on shelve stockers, and using strategically placed dentures to spin out delivery trucks full of the cereal.
Whereas Banana Bread Shreddies’ mortal folly was basting on too much syrupy artificial banana flavor, Banana Nut Cheerios are reserved and dignified, forgoing a flavor-blasted glaze in favor of baked-in real banana flavor, which, when paired with the a subtle brown sugar sweetness, evokes the cozy and natural experience of eating ripe bananas that were further golden-browned by an oven’s nurturing hug.
(To all young children and bananas reading this: please don’t actually hug an oven.)
Better yet, Banana Nut Cheerios’ ‘nanner core (check out that rare back-to-back apostrophe: a grammatical Bigfoot) is complemented by two wholesome wingmen: the classic toasted oat base of Cheerios is here in full force, as is a light peppering of sweet cinnamon, which grows in spiciness as you, like me, scarf down dry handfuls of Banana Nut Cheerios in a decidedly simian fashion, oohing and ahhing in front of open curtains like a caged ape for the whole neighborhood to witness. Together, oat and cinnamon remind me of actual bread dough, a necessary part of this balanced bread-fast experience.
My only reservation at this point is that the “nut” element is fairly subdued—outside of the oats’ analogous toastiness. Thankfully, milk activates a delightfully roasted and lightly oiled nuttiness in Banana Nut Cheerios. The ingredients list it as “Pecan Flavor,” but really it tastes the same as the delightful almond extract used on Honey Nut Cheerios. Because nature is a cruel beast, adding milk scales back the potency of the banana and cinnamon elements, forcing would-be breakfasters to play a Choose Your Oat Adventure game each morning when reaching for the milk carton:
To challenge the curve-necked Golden Bananagon, with breath of cinnamon fire, go to DRY
To brae the crackling forest of Nuttingham, go to MILK
The good news is that you really can’t go wrong either way. Sure, the cinnamon can get a little domineering over time, and the sweetness may not be up to snuff for those raised on Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s tongue-pow sugar punch, but Banana Nut Cheerios are a box of wholesome and homey fun that puts them right alongside Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios in my early list for “Cereal of the Year” contenders.
Hey, speaking of Choco-PB Cheerios…
I’ve abused the phrase “you’ve gotta try this” before, but when it comes to mixing Banana Nut Cheerios with their Reese’s-esque brothers, if you aren’t already blasting Bananarama on your way to the grocery store, you should reconsider your life choices. And your commitment to ’80s Brit-pop.
Chocolate & peanut butter are already a power couple, but so are chocolate and banana. And peanut butter and banana, for that matter (bless you, Mr. Presley. So by combining every pair into one bowl, this triumvirate of tastes becomes a tasty triangulation that brings the Bluth’s Frozen Banana Stand mythos into reality.
You know what: it’s such a good combo, that I’d rather eat more of it than finish thi—
The Bowl: Banana Nut Cheerios (2017)
The Breakdown: A nostalgic dessert turned into a reasonably healthy cereal, this cereal is bursting with real ripe banana flavor, cinnamon comfort, and humble nuttiness that’s emboldened by milk. Welcome back, old friend: now take that “Limited Edition” out of your name, please.
The Bottom Line: 9 jealous zucchini breads out 0f 10