Oreo O’s are (kind of) back in America! It’s a Christmas miracle!
Wait, you mean that was almost three weeks ago?
Okay: it’s a New Year’s miracle!
Oh, it’s already January 11th?
Uh, fine: it’s a…German Apples Day miracle?
Let’s go with that. Whether it’s trees bearing deutschen apfels or the good people at Malt-O-Meal, someone deserves praise for bringing cream-speckled chocolate rings back to American breakfast aisles. Cookies & Cream obviously isn’t Oreo O’s—it doesn’t even have a jazzy blob mascot with sunglasses and a creamy quiff hairdo—but it should definitely be considered a spiritual successor.
See, Post Foods lost the right to produce Oreo O’s in a confusing business acquisition snafu between Kraft, General Foods, and Dongsuh Foods, leading to the beloved cookie cereal’s 2005 discontinuation in the U.S. But Post also bought Malt-O-Meal last year. And they must’ve still had their old cream-filling infusion machine laying around somewhere gathering dust, because those recognizable, glittering white and brown cocoa rings we all spent large sums of money importing from Korea are now back on native soil.
Okay, I might have been the only one sinking significant funds into trans-Pacific breakfast shipments, but that’s beside the point. What matters is that, after all they’ve been through, Oreo O’s are (pretty much) home free again under a different name. I like to think they’re just in the witness protection program for witnessing whatever top-secret process turns Oreo cookies into pure cereal magic.
I imagine it involves divine intervention and no fewer than a dozen wizards.
As someone with a readily available stockpile of the real, Korean thing, I’m going to be up-front about Cookies & Cream: it doesn’t look or taste exactly as good as Oreo O’s. But for most people, it’ll still be close enough to justify screaming “Oreoh yeah!” out of an open window like it’s an outtake from a JG Wentworth commercial.
The biggest difference is density. Korean Oreo O’s are more compact and floury, while Malt-O-Meal’s Cookies & Cream rings have bigger holes and are disappointingly airy. It feels like there are rugged craters inside each of these cocoa-colored heavenly bodies, but unless you gobble Cookies & Cream with the voracity of a black hole, the rings shouldn’t deliver any Crunchberry-esque roof-of-mouth lacerations. Because despite what your mother, nutritionist, or Hydrox cookies might tell you, an Oreo would never hurt you.
Well, except for those discontinued Oreo Cakesters, which made me nearly die of a broken heart.
Even without marshmallows (which Oreo O’s lacked when they debuted), Cookies & Cream cereal tastes way more strongly of sugary crème than the comparatively chocolate-heavy Korean Oreo O’s—though saying “crème” feels a little too fancy for a cereal that comes in a jumbo plastic bag. Cookies & Cream cereal’s crème flavor is potently sweet, syrupy, and milky, with popping smacks of vanilla and powdered sugar. It’s a lot like cake icing or Twinkie filling, as it lacks any of the cream-cheesy intricacies of buttercream frosting or Oreo O’s.
Because Oreo O’s certainly were much butterier beasts. With real chocolate and processed cocoa in their ingredients list, Oreo O’s had a dominant chocolate flavor that popped with fudgy cocoa butter. Malt-O-Meal Cookies & Cream only has processed cocoa and a much subtler chocolate flavor as a result. It trails the crème with pleasant notes of dark chocolate. If I had to do a totally unscientific estimate, I’d say it tastes like “55% cacao” dark chocolate.
Coincidentally, 55% is about how far I am into this massive 2-pound bag of Cookies & Cream, which mean I’m about 55% full of bite-sized chocolate sandwich cookies. The other 45% of me is shame.
Cookies & Cream cereal really becomes true to its name when eaten with milk. It tastes remarkably like real cookies ‘n’ cream ice cream, with the specks of chocolate flavor becoming mere garnishes in a sea of cold, vanilla dairy. In fact, I bet if you ate this cereal with actual melted CNC ice cream instead of milk, you’d hear the “secret unlocked” sound from The Legend of Zelda and receive an Oreo-shaped battle shield from a spontaneously generated treasure chest.
So while its texture, chocolate-to-crème ratio, super faint plasticky bag taste, and mascot-less packaging keep it from being a true Oreo O’s doppelgänger, Cookies & Cream cereal makes for a fine understudy. At just over $5 for a 2-pound bag, it’s certainly a more convenient and fiscally responsible solution to your morning cookie cravings. For that price, you could drop a Benjamin Franklin and fill a swimming pool with the stuff.
And I’d dive head-first into it, Scrooge McDuck-style.
The Bowl: Malt-O-Meal Cookies & Cream Cereal
The Breakdown: It needs more chocolate, more anthropomorphized cream blobs, and fewer tongue-threatening air craters, but Cookies & Cream will likely have a permanent place in my pantry or, depending how much I buy, bathtub.
The Bottom Line: 9 Oreo–Nintendo crossover games out of 10
Purchased at: Walmart
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 120 calories, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein)
***Special thanks to our friend Gabe Fonseca for providing the retro Oreo O’s ingredients!***