Whoever first decided to pair milkshakes with cereal deserves a monument. Only a giant marble shake cup will do, preferably filled with liquid platinum and gold nuggets to stand in for soft serve-soaked cereal nibs. It’s an unexpectedly genius idea: sure, cereal and milk have an esteemed history, but you don’t generally associate an indulgent dessert like a milkshake with anything breakfast related—unless you had a bad night at the casino and want to make one last terrible 4am choice.
Now I may revoke my celebration of the breakfast shake’s inventor if this confection enables the shuddersome creation of cereal-infused cheese, but for now, let’s celebrate this golden age of shakes by uniting sugared cereals and cold cream cylinders in holy gastro-matrimony—at a place that’s literally 50% founded on milkshakes.
Yes, Steak ‘n Shake has 5 new Breakfast Shakes—technically 4, because one is Caramel Latte and you can tell the other shakes are only bringing him along because their moms made them (I’ve been there, buddy…as Caramel Latte). I intend to review all of them—Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Krispies, Cinnamon Crunch, and Honey Smacks—eventually, but based on how late my shake-seeking partner and I made it to The House of Beef and Lactose, I didn’t want to be up until 4am with a sugar-addled brain and an abdomen swollen to the size of a cow’s first three stomachs.
Because at that point, I’d feel terrible enough to go back for a fifth.
We settled on the more interesting flavors—i.e. the ones that weren’t vanilla and chocolate—Honey Smacks and the totally-not-copyright-infringing “Cinnamon Crunch.” As we basked in the authentic atmosphere of Steak ‘n Shake, characterized by giggling litters of teenagers and searing red neon that would rival Kenny Rogers’ Chicken Roasters, the waitress kindly told us no one had ever ordered these particular shakes before.
I think that showed, too, as our shakes arrived criminally lacking the topping density of others’ shakes I’ve seen. Oh well, it’s like they say: the proof is in the semi-viscous, chilly pudding.
And both cups of cow puddin’ (a term I’m banning from my own brain) proved to be pretty accurate to their source material, if a little light on the cereal flavor. Universal to both cereal milkshakes is a predominant milk flavor. This taste lacks a lot of the buttered subtleties of ice cream, instead infusing vapid vanilla whipped creaminess into whole milk’s trademark fattiness. This somehow produces a shake that tastes thinly empty and thickly hearty at the same time. Neither shake was nearly as well-rounded and potent as Burger King’s wonderful cereal shakes, which are like sucking down real cereal milk that was cryogenically turned into magical sugar plasma. First up is Cinnamon Crunch.
Steak ‘n Shake Cinnamon Crunch Cereal Milkshake
Now that the “meh”-lkshake base is out of the way, let’s talk cereal subtleties. Cinnamon Crunch has a great balance of cinnamon sugar and spice infused into its very core—imagine a harmonious blend of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cinnamon Frosted Flakes. These notes don’t hit hard and fast, though. Rather, the shake sweetness hits first, and the warm ‘n’ cozy cinnamon duality creeps in like comforting tendrils of a freshly stoked fire.
Yes, all this went through my mind as I explained my breakfast journalist status to a passing waiter who was way more interested in showing off his tattoos. Because that’s the genuine Steak ‘n Shake experience.
So a clap on the back to the Cinnamon Crunch Cereal Shake: it’s business in the front, and sticky cinnamon bun in the back—with plenty of crunchy squares to keep up a pleasant textural contrast.
The Bottom Line: 7.5 sick Triforce tattoos out of 10
Steak ‘n Shake Honey Smacks Cereal Milkshake
The Honey Smacks Cereal Shake was less compelling. Sure, there were ample bits of real Honey Smacks puffed rice scattered about, but they got soggy far faster than the Cinnamon Crunch squares, and soon became clumped wads I’d rather suck down than savor. Dig bits don’t taste like much, either, and the flavor infused into the (still overpowering) base shake is less honey and more “golden toasted sugar.”
In other words: Winnie the Pooh would pooh-pooh this moo juice, and Dig’em the Frog wouldn’t dig it, either.
Halfway through, I think I pegged the taste for what it really is: that of an ice cream cake cone. With the lightly buttered, custardy flavor of baked batter, this cone flavor was recognizable enough to make me unconsciously remember one my worst childhood ice cream experiences:
That time when my 3rd grade class got ice cream on a field trip, and I, being irrationally afraid to eat the cone, was left holding a dripping mass of deteriorating soft serve goo all. Day. Long.
Thanks a lot, Honey Smacks Shake. You dug up old trauma, and didn’t even taste much like Honey Smacks.
The Bottom Line: 6.5 Honey Smack Doom WADs out of 10
At the end of the day (quite literally, at this point), our first two Steak ‘n Shake Cereal Shakes were good, but they were more cereal kissed than cereal flavored. If you like a solid vanilla shake with nostalgic garnishes, you’ll be happy with these, but I’d prefer Burger King’s breakfast interpretation any day, and most of Steak ‘n Shake’s menu items seem more desirably decadent—even as a cereal fan.
I mean, just look at these banana milkshakes: they look like the three stages of a video game’s final boss. Fear the Ultimate Banana.