(EDIT: For those curious, I reviewed the other flavor of Special K Nourish here!)
New hobby: going into Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods and counting the number of ways I hear “quinoa” mispronounced. It’s amazing how many different Frankenstein’s word monsters can be created with just three syllables.
But I won’t judge. After all, I’m the same guy who simply refuses to pronounce “gyro,” “ricotta,” or “gnocchi” properly out of some bizarre sense of pride.
Anyway, that was my attempt to make an interesting introduction to a cereal that sounds boring, but actually has a lot more going on than any eavesdropped Whole Foods conversation. I know what you’re thinking: “Another Special K cereal with a name that takes longer to say than it does to eat? I’ll pass.” But just hear me out.
One of two new Special K Nourish cereals (the other, Coconut Cranberry Almond, has me going coco-nuts looking for it), Apple Raspberry Almond throws everyone’s favorite Q word (actually, I think my favorite Q word is “Quest,” for obvious reasons) into a fragrant mix of Special K multi-grain flakes, clusters, almonds, and fruit.
The multi-grain quinoa flakes are similar in texture to traditional Special K flakes, with a crunch that could break sound barriers and a rough pointedness that could stealthily break through glass like a bank robber in a heist movie. However, their taste is considerably more wheat-y than the typical rice flour lightness of those other flakes. As expected, the added quinoa really makes it rain with its dense grain flavor.
The fruit pieces here provide an interesting contrast. The camouflaged brown apple chips have a syrupy sweet apple stickiness and what seems like a touch of cinnamon. Meanwhile, the raspberry nuggets which stand out like laser pointer dots have a very strong burst of tartness: imagine a dried strawberry but with a heaping helping of mouth-puckering sourness. Regardless, raspberry is an incredibly rare cereal flavor, so it’s nice to finally see/taste it here.
The granola clusters aren’t your typical honey-glazed chunks, either; these have a lightly fruity glaze and a base that is quite nutty. And speaking of nuts, the slivers of almonds in this cereal are rarer than silver, but when I did crunch into one, the briefly salty and earthy taste was a welcome break from the fruitiness.
While they aren’t mentioned on the box, I also encountered strange, twig-like pieces. They’re pretty much just Rice Krispies that dressed up as macaroni for Halloween, so their airiness doesn’t add much.
Each piece is fairly tasty on its own, but when trying to eat a bowl of this cereal, it sort of becomes a muddled mess. There’s so much going on that the K in this Special K could stand for “Kitchen Sink.” It’s nearly impossible to get one of every ingredient in a spoonful, so every bite is like a different poker hand with a unique combination of tastes.
And just like in poker, sometimes you get a full house, and sometimes you get…The Unauthorized Full House Story (obviously I am not a poker player). For example, some bites are just grainy mouthfuls of flakes and clusters that not only suck your mouth dry like a handful of dirt, but also kind of taste like one two. Other bites will be just flakes and raspberries, an overly floral combination that’s like biting into an incense stick expecting it to be Pocky. Sadly, the addition of milk really doesn’t change anything, either.
The only time this cereal works is when the apple chips and raspberry bits are both present to dance their bittersweet tango. But this is about as rare as pulling out two Pinks from a fun-sized two pack of Starburst.
So in the end, I’m just left mining my box for these pieces like a cereal prospector with his spoon-shaped pickaxe. I might have been better off spending my money on a box of dried apple slices, a box of dried raspberries, and someone from Craigslist’s “Work Wanted” section who could spoon them directly into my mouth.
I guess if you’re a compulsive gambler, this might be the cereal for you: pour a bowl and let the raspberry roulette wheel stop where it will. But as someone who appreciates consistency in my breakfast, I’d rather not take the risk. Special K has better fruity cereals.
I guess you could say I just don’t like it when my box of cereal has enough types of pieces to play a 6-person game of Risk.
The Bowl: Special K Nourish Apple Raspberry Almond
The Breakdown: From fruity to flowery to grainy to earthy to crispy to syrupy to bitter, there’s just way too much going on in this primordial soup of ingredients. Ever mix all your rainbow watercolors together to end up with a grayish black goop? This is the cereal equivalent.
The Bottom Line: 5 overly lengthy reviews for cereals that I’ll never eat again out of 10