I hope you all had a legendary and merry December, because it’s time to carry that spirit into an extraordinary January full of Very Berry Cheerios!
If you can’t tell, I’m getting a head start on my New Year’s Resolution: “make more annoying rhymes.”
While Very Berry is far from the first fruity Cheerios variety to hit shelves, this cereal takes the shortcake when it comes to sheer quantity of berries. Flavored with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries, the only thing missing from Very Berry Cheerios is a bushel of Wonka’s snozzberries.
But I think the wallpaper industry still has exclusive rights to America’s annual snozzberry harvests, so I’ll forgive General Mills for stopping at four berries. This has been a fruitful year for them, after all: from Berry Bunnies and newly reformulated Trix to two varieties of Tiny Toast, ol’ GM has had its fair share of juicy 2016 scoops.
Will Very Berry Cheerios be a worthy closer for this year of naturally flavored, artificial color-free berry cereals? There’s only one way to find out, and spoiler alert: it involves stuffing my annoying rhyme-hole with purple oat rings.
And speaking of color, every Very Berry Cheerio is densely speckled with light magenta polka dots. Their hue can be most accurately described as “Grimace Purple,” and I was slightly worried these Cheerios might steal my milkshakes when I wasn’t looking.
The only way to stop a shake-burgling Cheerio is to eat it, and as I did just that, I was punched by a surprisingly potent cran-raspberry flavor.
Despite appearing third out of four berries (after blue- and cran-, but before straw-) on this cereal’s ingredients list, raspberry is easily the most recognizable taste in Very Berry Cheerios. But it isn’t the nearly sour, cheek-inverting flavor of a wild raspberry. It’s closer to the tempered, jelly-like sweetness of a smooth raspberry Greek yogurt—not quite “raspberry fruit snack” level, but I can add in my own later.
Those hoping for a little fruity puckering aren’t out of luck or anything, either. Interwoven with the raspberry flavor are fun pops of cranberry, which combine with the underlying sweetness to make Very Berry Cheerios taste like a slightly tarter cranberry sauce (not to be confused with tartar sauce; General Mills is probably saving that for their Filet-O-Fish Cheerios).
Thanksgiving dinner lovers, be warned: this cran/razz pizzaz fades pretty fast as you chew. Before long, I’m left with the same sweetly toasted oat taste of normal Cheerios, now faintly tinged by blueberry and strawberry flavor ghosts. I knew these two less assertive berries were hiding in my bowl somewhere, and their shy, more traditionally sweet fruit flavor only emerges in Very Berry Cheerios’ aftertaste.
They say the meek shall inherit the earth, but strawberry and blueberry are going to have to try a lot harder to overthrow their cranberry and raspberry barons. If George Orwell were alive today, that’d be the plot of his Animal Farm sequel: Knott’s Berry Farm.
What happens when Very Berry Cheerios become Very Dairy Cheerios? Well don’t tell Bessie, but I don’t think her pasteurized 2% belongs in this cereal. Very Berry Cheerios lack the girthy glaze of Honey Nut or Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, making me grimace as every Grimace-toned ring goes swollen and soggy before I can even raise my spoon in protest.
Worse yet, the interesting berry blend washes off like a scratch ‘n’ sniff sticker on a rain-soaked Trapper Keeper, leaving behind amnesiac oat pieces whose raspberry flavor memories have been creamed out of ’em by milk’s bullying creaminess.
Interestingly enough, Very Berry Cheerio endmilk does taste more potently like blueberries than ever before. So of you’re a true-blue blueberry fan, milk might still be your best modus Cheerioperandi for eating this cereal.
Personally, I prefer something that will preserve my Cheerios’ structural integrity and allow the under-appreciated berry flavor notes to shine. Strawberry yogurt would work well, as would diced up Pink Starburst, but I used strawberry kefir. This semi-solid allowed me to get the best of all four berry worlds, along with a fun textural contrast.
Not since the Chipwich have creamy and crispy lived together in such harmony.
Overall, your enjoyment of Very Berry Cheerios will hinge entirely on your berry preferences. I don’t like raspberries or cranberries as much as strawberry or blueberry, so I doubt this will be a repeat purchase, but I still applaud General Mills for introducing a unique flavor profile.
Maybe next year they’ll toss blackberries, boysenberries, and lingonberries into the mix and give us “Really Freakin’ Berry Cheerios.”
The Bowl: General Mills Very Berry Cheerios
The Breakdown: A first-of-its-kind combo of raspberry and cranberry flavors that’ll mostly appeal to niche audiences, Very Berry Cheerios nevertheless stifles its more sensitive blueberry and strawberry notes. Eat with milk for a bluer, yet blander cereal, or toss in some strawberry dairy to complete the series.
The Bottom Line: 6.5 cases of milkshake larceny out of 10
(Quick Nutrition Facts: 110 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein per 3/4 cup serving)