“That dude seriously needs to cool it with the cookie cereal.”
—actual quote (I wish I were joking) overheard from two girls at Walmart who watched me buy a 2-pound bag of Malt-O-Meal Chocolatey Chip Cookie Bites, ponder my life, then go back to grab a box of Cookie Crisp, too
Yes, I didn’t plan to spend $10 on crunchy, artificially chocolate chip cookie-flavored ellipsoids, but here we are. At least they didn’t see me haul this plastic leviathan onto my balcony and grumble “stupid shiny cookie bag” as I struggled to get a good photo.
But enough public embarrassment. Let’s talk Malt-O-Meal. I don’t always pay attention to the brand—let alone buy it—since their (admittedly very affordable) cereal always seems to taste a little too cheap, with the heavy bag imparting some chemical chintziness into every piece. But when I heard* that Malt-O-Meal, who has already Malt-O-Meal-ified just about every other major cereal, from Cap’n Crunch to French Toast Crunch, was wading into a hitherto untouched cereal frontier, I had to try it for myself.
Even if my apartment’s limited storage space forces me to (literally) spoon with the cereal bag to make room.
*A few people have told me that Cookie Bites aren’t as new as the sign in my Walmart would have me believe. While they may have been on M-O-M’s website for a while, too, they’re new to me and I’m already in too deep.
Huffing deep into the bag, Malt-O-Meal’s Chocolatey Chip Cookie Bites cereal smells simply euphoric—a mix of oily and fudgy. In a blind smell-test, I would’ve guessed it was a 2-pound bag of crunchily overcooked Hostess Cupcakes. But unfortunately, this snack cake sublimity doesn’t fully translate to taste.
Let’s start with the pros, though. Namely, Cookie Bites have an objectively better “dough taste” to General Mills’ Cookie Crisp. I say “objectively,” because Cookie Bites does something important that Chip the Wolf’s ever-sought treasures do not: they contain oat flour, rather than just corn flour. See, General Mills caused quite a stir when it stripped oat flour from many of its iconic cereals—Cookie Crisp and the Monster Cereal trio being the most notable—and I still get comments on my Count Chocula reviews to this day, begging me to bring that magical oat pixie dust back as if I’m some sort of powerful cereal necromancer.
Sadly, I’m just a lad who hugs his cereal bags at night, so all I can tell these oat addicts is to buy Cookie Bites. Their base taste and texture is pretty great, with a denser and appropriately gritty crunch that’s paired with the cozy sweetness of brown sugar oatmeal—whereas Cookie Crisp flavor foundation is a comparatively less-pleasant granulated vanilla maize.
Though “Granulated Vanilla Maize” would be a great name for a suburban midwest rapper.
Where Cookie Bites fails is in the chocolate department. When eaten dry, there’s just no real cocoa depth to these little discs, no matter how many I ravenously shovel into my mouth like a muppet with malnutrition. There are hints of baked chocolate graham cracker taste, but Cookie Bites end up tasting more like oatmeal cookies than anything Famous Amos’ grandma would churn out. Cookie Crisp, on the other hand, has a pretty nuanced and unique chocolate taste, with creamy cocoa butteriness that makes the end product taste like chocolate-drizzled movie theater popcorn.
Milk definitely improves Cookie Bites cereal’s choco-factor. The mini cookies greedily drink up dairy like they’re snorkeling Oreos, and milk’s liquid rejuvenation allows the cereal’s chocolate chip nuggets to pop a little brighter. Granted, they still don’t taste as pervasively milky as Cookie Crisp’s, but Cookie Bites still end up tasting a lot more like Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams than a calcified Quaker product.
The bottom line is simple. If you love chocolate chip cookies because of those first two words, stick with Cookie Crisp (or as Chip calls it, “CooOOOooOOKIE Crisp!). But if you do it all for the cookie (as Fred Durst would say), then Malt-O-Meal Cookie Bites will leave you saying, “Dough yeah, baby.” Tragically, a perfect chocolate chip cookie cereal does not yet exist—unless you pluck out all the awesome cookie bits from Keebler Cereal—but if you do a 50:50 mix of Crisp & Bites, you can get pretty darn close.
Just don’t expect to make it out of Walmart with your dignity intact.
The Bowl: Malt-O-Meal Chocolatey Chip Cookie Bites Cereal
The Breakdown: With lots of dough (without spending a lot of it), but not enough cocoa potency, Cookie Bites will appeal to oat flour fanatics, grandmas, and every Pillsbury Doughboy, Doughgirl, or Homer Simpson impersonator out there.
The Bottom Line: 8 fond memories of Teddy Grahams Breakfast Bears out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 120 calories, less than 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein per 1 cup serving)