Happy National Cereal Day 2016: Dan’s Cereal Top 10!

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That’s right, fellow cerealists, the greatest day of the year has come once more! March 7th is National Cereal Day, and it’s better than 25 Christmases stuffed into a Thanksgiving turkey that’s been strapped to a 4th of July firework and launched into a jack-o-lantern carved to look like the Easter bunny.

Today, cereal munchers everywhere are paying loving tribute to the fun, delicious, and ever-nostalgic breakfast classic that faithfully serves us 365 days a year (or 366, on years like this one).

Since Cerealously was only born in July of 2015, this is our first National Cereal Day as a blog. Despite this, I want to do a brief throwback to National Cereal Day 2015, when General Mills sent a few lucky cereal fans this rockin’ jigsaw puzzle that is way too cool not to share with the Internet.B_hNkTRUcAAvvIt

I will say, though, that even though this jigsaw puzzle is cool, it was difficult enough to put together that Jigsaw from Saw must have been the one who designed it. If you can imagine a slightly sweaty grown man hunched over and swearing while trying to fit a Lucky Charms horseshoe piece into a Cheerio-shaped hole, you wouldn’t be far from the truth.

In reality, I was much sweatier.trix-sunrise-chill-pie-photos-1-HR

This year, General Mills teamed up with the Food Network’s Justin Warner to develop a bunch of exclusive cereal recipes. I’d love to make one, like the above Trix Sunrise Chill Pie, but we all know that my “baking session” would end 10 minutes later with me passed out on the kitchen floor, face down in a puddle of milk with a half-eaten box of Trix spilled around me like fruity crime scene giblets. You can check out this and other recipes here.

Meanwhile, no National Cereal Day would be complete without a contribution from Gabe Fonseca, a friend of Cerealously and a binge watchable cereal YouTuber. Gabe made this awesome tribute video for his channel, which features a whole bunch of cool people sharing their favorite cereals. Look closely, and you might even catch yours truly in the video.

Just don’t blame me if my face makes you go blind.

But Gabe isn’t the only one who’s ever asked me what my favorite cereal is. In fact, I get asked it so often, that I wanted to properly celebrate National Cereal Day here on Cerealously by counting down not 1, not 5, and not even 8.125 of my favorite cereals. No, it’s time to rank my Top 10 Cereals of All Time!*

*Note: my opinion will probably change tomorrow. Also, more factors than just taste have been taken into consideration. Nostalgia and happy memories are important parts of cereal’s legacy, so those have been given some weight in my rankings.


 

#10: Cookie Crisp

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I love freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Statistically speaking, you probably love freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. And George Lucas won’t respond to my emails, but I would guess that Chewbacca probably loved freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, too.

So why not eat a bowl full of them for breakfast and have it be socially acceptable? Sure, calling Cookie Crisp “fresh” might be a stretch (to be fair, crisp is a synonym for fresh in my thesaurus), but it still has rich buttery flavor and bursting sweet chocolate chips baked into every mini cookie piece, so I’ll give it a pass.

Even if all else fails and Mom won’t let you have a third bowl of Cookie Crisp for dinner instead of meatloaf, the fun cookie-shaped pieces still make awesome action figure accessories. Nothing beats having He-Man and Skeletor fight over doughy desserts bigger than their heads.


 

#9: Teddy Grahams Breakfast Bears

Okay, this one might be cheating, because I’ve never actually eaten this cereal before. Introduced in 1990, this cereal extension of the Teddy Grahams snack cracker line existed a little bit before my cereal heyday.

But I am a certified DEFCON 5 level Teddy Grahams fanatic. I scarfed down boxes all childhood long, I sent away UPC labels to get the Teddy Grahams stuffed animals, and I’d probably get a Teddy Graham tattooed on my ankle—as long as people didn’t interpret it as some weird Grateful Dead parody.

And since everyone who’s had Teddy Grahams Breakfast Bears says they have all the goodness of Teddy Grahams crackers (or are they cookies? Such questions keep me up at night.) in cereal form, at times I feel like I actually can taste this cereal. If not with my actual tongue, then at least with my mind’s tongue.

All taste aside, the bright and whimsical era in cereal history that Breakfast Bears represents is influential enough to earn it a place on this list, and it’s certainly enough to make me write passionate letters to Smoky the Bear, asking him if he’ll use his connections to bring Breakfast Bears back to breakfast tables. Sadly, he usually just tells me some crap about forest fires.

But there’s a fire in my heart, Smoky!


 

#8: Honey Bunches of Oats with Chocolate Clusters

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I’ve mentioned several times before how the original Chocolate Honey Bunches of Oats, which was first discontinued some 6 or 7 years ago, were partly responsible for reigniting my childhood love of cereal during a time when I had *gasp* switched to eating toast for breakfast.

And even though I cried chocolate syrup tears for years over their discontinuation, Chocolate Honey Bunches finally returned just months ago: fudgier, chocolatier, and better than ever.

There’s something scientifically perfect about all Honey Bunches of Oats flavors—a precise balance of sweetness, nuttiness, and honey stickiness that makes you think each spoonful was carefully labored over by some medieval alchemist in Post’s Battle Creek cereal dungeon.

Chocolate Honey Bunches are definitely that cereal chemist’s magnum opus, too, simply because they allow me to sip rich chocolate endmilk from my bowl like Caligula at breakfast time.


 

#7: Raisin Bran Crunch

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There are snack cereals, there are dinner cereals, and there are midnight treat cereals, but for me, there’s only one real morning cereal. I have a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch nearly every morning, simply because I’ve reached that point in adulthood where I need a coffee and a wholesome crunch to keep me from becoming a hungry, hostile social werewolf before brunch.

So while all the chocolate frosted cereal goodies have to wait ’til later, Raisin Bran Crunch reliably makes mornings great with hearty, wheat-y flakes; the plumpest, juiciest raisins; and chewy, honey-soaked clusters.  That last sentence better earn me an Academy Award.

Sure, RBC’s famous claim of having “two scoops of raisins” in every box might be a little exaggerated, but I’m always happy to add some more of my own. Any excuse to say hello to that cute Sun-Maid Raisin Girl.


 

#6: Waffle Crisp

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Everyone went crazy over French Toast Crunch’s return, but in my opinion, the best darn maple-flavored cereal never actually left shelves at all.

Remember that cereal alchemist I just mentioned? Well Post must have also forced him to distill the essence of childhood into a single flavor, because Waffle Crisp has it. Just one bite of those delightfully crunchy golden cuboids leaves ghostly visions of morning cartoons and neighborhood baseball games dancing through my tastebuds and tickling my brain.

Okay, so the part about baseball games was a lie, but it does bring back fond memories of playing a Backyard Baseball CD-ROM on an ancient Gateway computer in my basement while all the other kids were outside. Who needs popularity when you have Pablo Sanchez?

Sure, the sugary, sticky maple flavor on each piece of Waffle Crisp may have been hilariously artificial, but so is whatever they put in Mrs. Butterworth and Hungry Jack. And I still love those two like a third pair of grandparents.


 

#5: Pokémon Cereal

Speaking of cereals that taste just like childhood, it’s Pokémon cereal! Sure, my ’90s upbringing is probably biasing this one, but I remain convinced that Pokémon cereal was the best tasting oats ‘n’ marbits cereal to ever exist. When playing Pokémon, I had to catch ’em all, but when it came to Pokémon cereal, you could easily catch me trying to eat ’em all.

Gabe’s above video better details it’s chronology, but Pokémon cereal came out during the peak of Pokémania: a time when just about every food in the grocery store had tiny Bulbasaur faces on it. From Pop-Tarts and frozen waffles to a particularly elusive line of suckers, this was truly a confusing time for parents who still insisted that Pikachu’s name was “Poke E. Man.”

But for the rest of us, munching through mountains of marshmallows while craned over our Game Boys made for sweet, sweet Saturdays.


 

#4: Barbara’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate Puffins

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The Puffins line doesn’t get nearly enough credit. Often scoffed at for their comparative healthiness, Barbara’s Puffins are the tastiest, crunchiest, and cutest corn/oat flour cereal that money can buy. Because not only is their puffin mascot cute in itself, but the hollow, rounded pillow pieces are pretty darn adorable, too.

The Peanut Butter and Chocolate variety is easily the best of the bunch. With buttery, slightly salty PB pieces and equally decadent cocoa bites, these Puffins do the classic flavor pairing better and more authentically than Reese’s Puffs. The loud, sonic boom-generating crunch of each piece just makes it even more satisfying.

It also doesn’t hurt that sending in labels from boxes of Puffins allows you to adopt an honorary puffin of your own. I named mine Diddy. You can probably figure out why.


 

#3: Neopets Islandberry Crunch

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Information about this cereal is hard to find online. But sporadic eBay listings confirm that the cereal actually existed and was not a sugar-addled hallucination from my childhood.

Yeah, this is a bit of a weird one. For the unaware, Neopets is a virtual pet website where you can own, raise, and customize your own pet from a variety of made up species, from Quiggles to Kacheeks. Since Neopets is already the second pet-training game to be mentioned on this list, you should have a pretty good idea of how cool I was in school.

This breakfast cereal tie-in was released at a time when I was way too old to love and play Neopets as much as I did. So naturally, a lot of of my Neopassion bled over into this deliciously fruity corn puff cereal. There was something unique about its tropical and slightly tangy flavor that hasn’t been replicated properly to this day (though Chex Clusters has probably come the closest).

Sometimes I still log into Neopets to check in on my pet Poogle, whom my younger self named Jello_Party for some unfathomable reason. And every time I log back in, his traumatized eyes remind that I haven’t fed him in years.Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 9.42.54 PM

So thanks, Neopets Islandberry Crunch. I love you, but you never fail to remind me that I’m a horrible person. Hey, at least Jello_Party is “content.”


 

#2: Trader Joe’s Organic Raisin Bran Clusters

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Of course Raisin Bran Crunch wouldn’t be the only raisin bran to make this list. Beating out Kellogg’s smiling sun is Trader Joe’s decidedly mascot-less take on the raisin bran and granola formula. TJ’s does everything that Kellogg’s does, but just a little bit better.

The flakes are mammoth shards of perfectly crunchy, perfectly toasted bran. The raisins are precious, winey little nuggets that positively ooze aged fruity goodness. And I’m convinced the clusters are made from Unobtainium, because their graham cracker and oatmeal cookie-esque crumbliness is worth starting intergalactic wars over.

If that earlier raisin bran sentence didn’t earn me an Oscar, then that paragraph should help me Leonardo DiCaprio it.

And if I didn’t live so far from a Trader Joe’s, their Raisin Bran Clusters would easily be my breakfast, lunch, and dinner until I ended up on that My Strange Addiction show. But for now, I’m content with letting it be a pleasant rarity in my diet, like a birthday gift I give myself once a month.

Now all it needs is a mascot. Might I suggest a wise-cracking moon?


 

#1: Oreo O’s

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Anyone who has watched the above video, read Cerealously’s about page, or talked to me even once in real life knew this was coming. If there’s one thing I love more than a bowl full of raisin bran in the morning, it’s a bowl full of crumbled up, creme-stuffed chocolate sandwich cookies drenched in cold milk.

There’s no greater crime than the discontinuation of Oreo O’s in America back in 2007. The cereal consisted of chocolate rings speckled with creme bits that tasted exactly like a bite-sized Oreo cookie. It even later upgraded to include uniquely creamy marshmallows that bypassed the typical chalkiness of most cereal ‘mallows. But then it was gone.

For 7 more years, the cereal remained available in South Korea due to some weird geographic technicality in the agreement between Post and Kraft. I even had the above box shipped in and gifted to me. But recently, it appears to have disappeared completely. The Oreo O’s Wikipedia page said it very harshly:Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 10.15.42 PM

So to this day, I will still sometimes empty a baggie of Oreo Minis into a bowl of milk in a desperate attempt to recapture the ecstatic wonder that was a bowl of Oreo O’s. It’ll never be the same, though. I’ll never truly experience that “extreme creme” chocolate biscuit flavor again until the day our sunglass-wearing, anthropomorphized creme saviors return to us.


 

Now that I’ve written nearly 2,200 words on the topic (can I submit this as a doctoral thesis?), I think my tired fingers have nothing left to say, except for “Happy National Cereal Day” to each and every one of you. Feel free to let me know your favorite cereals in the comments below. Be sure to enjoy a bowl or two or three or four or more, and I’ll do the same.

Let’s just hope my pinky doesn’t fall off trying to pick up a spoon.

 

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14 responses »

  1. Oreos Os (which ive had as recently as 2013) is one. Waffle Crisp is two. After that they shift around, but I would also have Reeses PB puffs, Cocoa Puffs, mini Wheats chocolate little bites, honey nut chex, Sprinkled Donut Capn Crunch, Froot Loops, and Apple cinnamon cheerios in there. Also French Toast Crunch and, strangely, regular old Life.

    • I would expect nothing less than #2 from a guy who named his blog after Waffle a Crisp, haha. I also agree that the Chocolate Little Bites are easily the best Mini-Wheats variety (Maple Brown Sugar trails it by a sizable margin).

    • Oh wow, that’s awesome! I’d love to see/hear more about that box! And Happy National Cereal Day to you, too, of course!

    • Oooh, good question. I love doughnuts almost as much as I love Teddy Grahams, so I was very excited to try Sprinkled Donut Crunch when it first came out. While I kinda wish it had a more pronounced glazed or doughy flavor, it’s vanilla frosted goodness and crackling sprinkles make it one of (if not THE) best Cap’n Crunch varieties out there.

  2. Interesting list Dan!
    I was kinda suprised by some of the cereals that made it on the list. For example, i never realized you like cookie crisps that much and teddy grahams came a bit suprizing too, considering you never had them. ^^
    I also never had guessed the peanut butter / chocolate puffins to be on it (i really could’ve sworn instead of the puffins i would find Honey Graham Oh’s on the list).

    I was also kinda irritated by the fact you choose two “raisin bran” cereals. Instead i would’ve guessed (again ^^) to find Nature Valley Baked Oat Bites Cereal somewhere here. 😀

    Your number one is probably THE cereal i needed to get my hands on while still available (now i can’t even get a overprized korean version anymore :(). I love Oreos (who doesn’t) and everyone is praising this cereal like it’s godsend. xD

    I already comment on Gabes amazing video what my favorite cereal is, but i like to mention it again:
    It’s Trio by Nestle (PIC!). With caramel, Honey and vanilla as flavor it was THE cereal! I’m so sad i probably will never eat it again ^^
    (but never say never right? French toast crunch got a revival too ^^)

    And when we speak about cereal that is still available it’s probably cocoa krispies… or reese’s or lion? 😉
    (i should make a 10 best cereal list too. There are too many awesome ones to just choose one ^^)

  3. forgot to say:
    NEOPETS!
    😉

    I also created an account and got myself a pet, but never really got the point… wasn’t my kinda thing, though i was addicted to my tamagotchi 😉

    • Don’t get me wrong, I love Chocolate Toast Crunch, but there are so many good Toast Crunch cereals I don’t think I could put one above the others. Between Cinnamon, French, Chocolate, and the unfortunately discontinued Frosted and Peanut Butter, they’re all like my children: I can’t pick a favorite!

  4. My personal weakness is Cascadian Farms Fruitful O’s. They’re delicious both in milk and right out of the bag. In fact, my favorite way to eat them is on a long road trip, sitting between the driver’s seat and the center console, one pawful at a time until I’ve realized I’ve downed half a box between rest stops.

    I’d say they’re slightly reminiscent of fruit loops (as clearly intended), but decidedly less saccharine. Mouthful is for me the ideal balance of crunch; it resists at first, then collapses into a fine dust that coats your mouth in flavor. Can you tell I like these? 🙂

    They’re also challenging to find, and that game of hard-to-get makes them even more delicious. Sure, I can get six boxes on Amazon shipped to my door, but where’s the fun in that?

    Probably a 9/10 for me (9 sweet and colorful pool floaties out of 10?), but I have no idea what 10/10 tastes like.

    Thanks for all of your clever reviews.

    Btw, do you have any opinions on what milk to use with cereal? I’m sure recommendations would vary with cereal, but general advice. For instance, I doused my Love Grown Comet Crispies in Wegman’s or 365 Almond Milk, and the crispies stayed crunchy for several minutes while activating that “More Ovaltine Please!” taste. It’s my favorite late-night combination at the moment.

    Thanks again.

    • Thanks for the kind words about the site 🙂

      As for milk, I’m a bit sensitive to dairy, so I almost always use alternative milks, too. One of my all-time favorites is Almond Breeze’s Honey Almond Milk (they make it with and without vanilla but both are great!). While Honey Almond Milk definitely pairs best with something like Honey Nut Cheerios or Honey Bunches of Oats, I’ve had surprisingly tasty results trying it with fruity or cinnamon-y cereals, too.

      If you’re looking for something a bit nuttier (but without being bitter; I can’t stand cashew or hazelnut milk) I find SoGood’s Almond Walnut Milk to be an exciting nutty blend.

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