Ever had a Canadian Elvis?
It’s a traditional and totally not-made-up sandwich native to North North America that remixes Mr. Presley’s favorite peanut butter and banana sandwich by swapping George Washington Carver’s creamy (or chunky, choosy moms don’t discriminate) legume spread with the sticky sweet life blood of Canada’s flag-starring national tree.
Quaker must be a fan of the Canadian Elvis, because it’s the only logic I can see behind their new(ish) Banana & Maple Oatmeal flavor. Outside of banana pancakes (which are usually paired with compote instead of syrup anyway) and a certain tragic incident in my childhood involving a rogue monkey with a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth, I’ve never heard of banana and maple going together.
Chocolate and bananas? Delicious.
Ice cream and bananas? You couldn’t split us apart.
Peanut butter and bananas? I hunka hunka burnin’ love it.
But maple syrup and bananas is largely unexplored territory—a final frontier worthy of a new Star Trek series. Maple is one of my favorite all-time flavors—I want my funeral procession to end at an IHOP—so Quaker’s got a lot to prove by pairing it with a fruit that barely makes my top 10.
(Though “Maple & Strawberry” probably wouldn’t sound any more palatable)
Quaker’s Banana & Maple Oatmeal doesn’t look much different than their standard mushy fare, with the exception of a few glossy banana nuggets that dot the craggy oat landscape like twinkling clam pearls in a seabed. A bowl of instant oatmeal will never win the Ms. Breakfast Universe award, but I’ve seen far less photogenic ones than this.
The banana flavor is subtle at first when the oatmeal is still hot: as I took my first bite and did that thing impatient people do where I bounce the scalding spoonful around my mouth to avoid tongue-cauterization, I could only taste the familiar, wholesome, and sweetly browned goodness of Quaker Oats.
But after applying a taste bud tourniquet and allowing for adequate oat-cooling, the banana flavor emerged loud, proud, and surprisingly floral. My childhood friendship with banana bread (can you tell I was a hoot on the playground?) fostered my love for ripe, brown bananas, so I was disappointed to taste how green and tropical this banana oatmeal is. It’s like Quaker flavored it with straight-off-the-tree, unripened Banana Laffy Taffy.
Ironically, it was no laughing matter. While the contrast between darkly toasted oats and sprightly crisped bananas is unique, I couldn’t get over the slightly bitter and starchy banana aftertaste.
And speaking of aftertastes: the maple. Whoops, I must have dropped my quotation marks. I meant to say the “maple,” because it’s not really there. There are some saccharinely syrup end notes, and they do pleasantly glaze over the harsher banana bits with smooth sugariness, but it’s flavorfully ambiguous, lacking the distinctive maple sweetness that Waffle Crisp and French Toast Crunch have spoiled us with. It could just as easily have been brown rice syrup, butter syrup, high fructose corn syrup, or a Syrup Jar power-up from the Mario & Luigi series.
As I often do with maple cereals, maple granolas, and trays of chocolate chip cookies when no one’s looking and I want to make Tracy’s contribution to the company potluck a little more flavorful, I poured more maple syrup on top of my Banana & Maple Oatmeal to try amping up the golden goodness. It definitely worked, and I highly recommend it. A syrupy swirl makes tasty peace between the wild banana and mild oat flavors, producing a sturdy and buttery bowl of oatmeal that reminds me of a half-cooked banana pancake.
Jack Johnson would be proud.
So while Quaker’s Banana & Maple Oatmeal is far from their most memorable flavor, it’s still creative and worth trying for banana junkies who are tired of melting banana Runts into their morning oats. As for the rest of us? We’re probably better off sticking to Quaker’s more balanced Banana Bread Oatmeal…
…or writing Quaker copious snail mail pleas for a Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal, signed by the hungry, crooning spirit of Elvis Presley himself.
The Bowl: Quaker Banana & Maple Oatmeal
The Breakdown: Picked a little before its time, this oatmeal lacks the potent maple or ripe banana flavor I was hoping for, but its sweet & tropical blend is unique enough for a one-time novelty buy.
The Bottom Line: 6 Laffy Taffy plantations out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 160 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein per 1 packet serving)