October 14th, 2017: the day Dan finally shut up about wanting a gingerbread cereal.
Yes, this is a landmark day—literally: the spot where I excitedly stamped my feet upon tasting Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal is now craterous enough to be deemed a geologic point of interest. I’ve begged for a gingerbread cereal (Gingerbread Toast Crunch, to be more specific, but gingerbeggars can’t be choosers) since the first year I had enough teeth to eat both a gingerbread man and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. And after decades of disappointment, that stoically grinning Quaker Oats guy must have finally felt my annoying laments reverberate through his 2-dimensional cardboard plane, because we now have Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal: America’s first ever gingerbread breakfast cereal.
I told myself I’d wait ’til winter months to review this stuff, since i have so many autumn treats to write about, but pumpkin spice and caramel apple be damned: if I don’t give my inner child this one, he’s going to beat my internal organs with a whiffle ball bat and a pair of Sock’em Boppers.
I didn’t expect Life to be the first gingerbread cereal, mostly because it’s a pretty low-key, modestly experimental brand. And that gastronomic minimalism is apparent from the texture. Life is far too daintily crispy, and from the very start I found myself wishing for a heartier crunch—one that echoes through space-time as loudly as my excitement did.
Some scientists hypothesize it’s what caused the Big Bang.
And for those of us with impatient incisors, Gingerbread Spice Life may not taste like much. See, like a Pokémon or one of those Grow Monsters water toys, this is a cereal that evolves as you eat it. The flavor builds on itself between spoonfuls, and this made it possible for me to chart my Gingerbread Spice Life journey like a subterranean captain journeying to the center of a cookie-cored Earth.
Bites 1 & 2: I am deep within the crust layer. No, seriously: my first bites of Gingerbread Spice Life tasted a bit like pie crust—nothing less, nothing more. These crust desserts are caused by Life’s uniquely toasty-baked, if not slightly bland multigrain base. But while it tastes oven-roasted, there’s no buttery crust component, leaving me feeling like a literal Krusty Krab. I have the sudden urge to sell hamburgers and hoard my wealth.
Bites 3 & 4: I must have reached some sort of mineral deposit or Morlock crop field, because the Crust of Life (band name: dibs) has taken on a golden maize flavor. It blends well with the multigrain to create a cornucopia of fall flavor, but I’m worried the corniness will grow too intense. I hope this isn’t where they bury expired Count Chocula boxes.
Bites 5 & 6: The crust is really heating up—I must be nearing the munchable mantle. I distinctly taste warm and cozy, nearly floral cinnamon spice. This is coupled by a generic harvest vegetable starchiness. Is that pumpkin, squash, or perhaps okra? I don’t know, as long as it’s not Oprah: the last time I encountered a daytime talk show host in the bowels of the underground, Dr. Phil nearly bit my fingers off. That’s all to say that, at the midpoint of Gingerbread Spice Life adventure, it pretty much tastes exactly like Pumpkin Spice Life. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I hope I’m not stuck in this layer, because I forgot my emergency whipped cream shelter.
Bites 7 & 8: Here it is. The deep mantle. A ribboned layer of magmatic molasses that becomes more darkly sweet, caramelized, and syrupy with each chew. This is the part I desired most, as molasses is a more iconic taste component of gingerbread than, well, ginger. Those who give Gingerbread Spice Life the long jaw treatment are appropriately rewarded—the overall potency of the flavor may not be as tongue-slapping as Cap’n Crunch or any Toast Crunch, but it’s homey and novel all the same.
Bites 9+: I’ve hit the core. Here, little hints of tarter spice emerge here: licorice and tingling ginger. It’s faint, and not as well blended with sweetness as a real cookie, but it was worth the journey. Now it’s time to journey through the other end, emerge in China, and grab some Kung Pao chicken for the road.
Oh, I guess I should mention how Gingerbread Spice Life holds up in milk. It doesn’t. Life is far too ethereally fragile, and milk turns it into flavorless multigrain paste faster than the Gingerbread Man runs away. Definitely eat this stuff dry, and climb its novel, taste-building ziggurat.
Because Gingerbread Life Cereal pays off on its namesake promise, but only if you eat a lot of it. It never hits the perfect blend of sweet and spice, and it lacks the buttered frosting notes that accent a quality gingerbread man, gingerbread house, or gingerbread Malibu Barbie Dreamhouse—if anything, it makes a better speculoos cereal than a gingerbread one. Yet, Gingerbread Life is still a wholesome facsimile that won’t swell your waistline to the point you’ll need to buy a chunkier cookie cutter.
To use a succinct analogy: eating Gingerbread Spice Life is like listening to a recording of a live concert. Something is lost, but you can still picture yourself there. And you don’t have to waste money on expensive allspice or cruddy tour merch.
The Bowl: Quaker Gingerbread Spice Life Cereal
The Breakdown: A worthy pioneer for hopefully more gingerbread cereals to come, this stuff takes a while to warm up to its titular taste, but molasses, cinnamon, and an appropriately doughy base make this cereal worth the cost of admission. Just don’t dunk it like a cookie.
The Bottom Line: 7.5 profiles on MorlockFarmersOnly.com out of 10