Please, oh please, Nature Valley Chocolate Oat Bites: you have to be better than Attack of the Clones.
Let me explain what I mean by this. I recently came to the conclusion that my experience with General Mills’ new 2016 line of Nature Valley cereals closely parallels my experience watching the Star Wars films.
Nature Valley’s “original trilogy” provided an exciting plot arc. First, Chocolate Oat Clusters brought an innovative breath of fresh air to the breakfast table. With its fudgy decadence and rich clusters, Chocolate Oat Clusters gave me A New Hope that grown-up cereal could be fun.
Then Baked Oat Bites Struck Back. With layers of sour cream doughnut complexity, it improved on Cracklin’ Oat Bran’s seemingly un-improvable formula. Finally, Honey Oat Clusters happily rounded out the saga with a Return to its predecessors’ doughnut-esque delightfulness, but it lacked a sense of cliffhanging, compelling intrigue.
I thought the fun was done there, but then Nature Valley announced two more cereals. The first, Raisin Oat Clusters, was a bit of a disappointment. It was less imaginative and more dry. And unlike the other movies, The Phantom Menace didn’t even taste like a bakery dessert!
Wait a minute—I think I mixed my metaphors there.
That’s a long-winded way of explaining how Chocolate Oat Bites—the newest Nature Valley cereal—has to break the cycle. Attack of the Clones may not have been the worst Star Wars film, but I sure wouldn’t want to watch it for breakfast every morning.
The picture frame pieces in Chocolate Oat Bites look like the darkly drizzled yin to Baked Oat Bites’ brightly iced yang. And like Baked Oat Bites, each cracked square crackles in my mouth like an edible firecracker. It’s like granola without any mouth-skewering pointy parts.
The crumbly texture is addictive, and the taste is just as good. I secretly hoped Chocolate Oat Bites would taste like a bowl full of miniature chocolate chip cookies, and it does—but not in the way you’d expect. These aren’t the traditional, buttery and doughy chocolate chip cookies your grandma baked to beat Famous Amos himself in the famous “Choco Chip-Off” of 1972.
No, each Chocolate Oat Bite tastes like an oatmeal raisin cookie that had its dried fruit nuggets replaced with semisweet chocolate morsels. The base has a pleasant brown sugar sweetness coupled with golden, lightly oiled and toasted oatmeal notes, while the drizzle provides a creamy pop of milk chocolate.
The taste of melted chocolate chips is so recognizable, I secretly suspect that Nature Valley made these Chocolate Oat Bites by stealing industrial-sized barrels of Quaker Chocolate Chip Instant Oatmeal and processing the goo into squares with one of those Play-Doh molding machine.
For those keeping score at home, I’ve now made a “Play-Doh molding machine” reference four times on this website. Scratch that one off your Cerealously bingo card.
Every dog has its day, and every cookie has its glass of milk. Since I’m essentially a shameless human dog (with the ability to digest chocolate), I gave my cereal cookies a bowl of chocolate milk.
Was it excessive? Yes. Did it make my head buzz a little? Maybe. But did it also taste like a Little Debbie Fudge Round stuffed inside a Little Debbie Oatmeal Creme Pie? I think you can guess the answer to that.
While you certainly don’t need to use chocolate milk on Chocolate Oat Bites (I understand that some cereal consumers don’t feel like recreating Willy Wonka’s chocolate river), some sort of milk is recommended, as it makes everything super creamy and chocolatey. Adding it pairs the milky drizzle with a now “activated” cocoa powder flavor that’s baked into the oat base.
Chocolate Oat Bites is much more Force Awakens than it is Attack of the Clones, and it’s probably my 2nd favorite Nature Valley cereal, right behind its Baked brother. The crunchy and crumbly oatmeal base is a great platform for other flavors to build off of, making me wish that General Mills had stuffed some raisins inside these bad boys instead of releasing Raisin Oat Clusters.
But it’s not too late to make up for it, Nature Valley. If you’re gonna complete your second cereal trilogy, might I recommend Maple Brown Sugar Oat Bites?
Revenge of the Syrup has a nice ring to it.
The Bowl: Nature Valley Chocolate Oat Bites
The Breakdown: Baked good lovers rejoice! These wee frosted cookies combine the best parts of chocolate chips and oatmeal into cute cereal bites you can wear on your pinky.
The Bottom Line: 9 bowls of “Jar Jar Bites” out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 180 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein per 3/4 cup serving)