According to the box, Bear Naked Cereal’s new Chocolate Almond Clusters are “APPROVED BY BEARS.”
Personally, I’d like to see the National Bear Advisory Board’s citations on this, because like many mammals, bears can’t eat chocolate! The stuff contains theobromine, a chemical that’s toxic to our furry friends. So why, then, would the entire bear population sign off—in all capital letters, no less—on a cereal that contains enough cocoa to have them growling “oh no” as they cartoonishly grip their stomachs like Yogi Bear after stealing a picnic basket full of potato salad that’s been in the sun too long?
Are they trying to fatten us up with a calorie-dense breakfast so we taste better later? Are the bears just bad at reading contractual fine print? Or is this all just a pointlessly long-winded introduction I wrote to hide the fact that I spent $4 on this cereal?
The answer to all three is yes.
After reviewing Bear Naked’s first cereal flavor, Sweet Honey Clusters, my faith in the brand went into a long hibernation. That stuff was just so bland: I expected Chocolate Almond Clusters to taste like cocoa-dusted tree bark.
I’m happy to announce that this cereal’s better than powdered pinewood—but not much better. Consisting of mini chocolate squares, granola clusters, and multigrain flakes, Bear Naked Chocolate Almond Clusters is a real story of “The Good, the Not Bad, and the Ugly.”
Let’s start with Clint Eastwood—uh, I mean the chocolate squares. They’re small enough to make rice grains consider a diet, but they pack a pleasantly creamy punch. I expected them to taste like semi-sweet chocolate chips, but these squares are more like concentrated Nesquik quadrilaterals. These sweet babies are like a cleric in an RPG party: they’re easy to overlook, but they’re essential to every spoonful’s success, as they infuse each bite with a merry milk chocolate pop.
The heavy clusters are pretty important, too: consider them the bulky barbarians. Loaded with crisply toasted oats and big hunks of almond, these granola globs taste like a home-brewed attempt at “healthy granola bars.” Not too sweet, lightly nutty, and with an airy dark cocoa finish: these granola bites are pretty much what you’d get if you left a bowl of Quaker Chocolate Chip oatmeal out for 24 hours day and chunked up the next day’s hardened remains.
If that only kind of sounds like a compliment, then I succeeded.
Then there are the flakes. The less we say about them, the better. Yes, they do taste like cocoa-dusted tree bark. Avoid eating a spoonful of just flakes at all costs. If a spoonful of just Bear Naked flakes approaches you, remain calm, alert an officer of the law, and do not make eye contact. The flakes can sense fear.
As alluded to, this cereal’s success depends on your square to cluster to flake ratio. When all three are present, it can taste rather nice: like a bowl of organic Almond M&M’s. And milk does a good job of adding dipped-chocolate-oatmeal-cookie-esque moistness. It’s definitely better than Sweet Honey Clusters, and it gives me hope for Bear Naked’s Toasted Coconut Clusters, but without careful mixology, Chocolate Almond Clusters is a grainy bust—and the whole cereal could stand to have more chocolate anyway.
But I guess I we shouldn’t take it for granted. After all, one spoonful of Bear Naked Chocolate Almond Clusters contains more chocolaty flavor than a real bear will ever experience in its life. We humans are so spoiled.
The Bowl: Bear Naked Chocolate Almond Clusters Cereal
The Breakdown: A balance-dependent cereal, Chocolate Almond Clusters’ star-studded squares and almond-studded clusters are brought down by a wooden performance from its flakes. Spoon with caution.
The Bottom Line: 6 Yogi Bear gastrointestinal distress cries out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 220 calories, 4 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein per 1 cup serving)