Each Tuesday, we will post each of our personal top five lists on a specific category. You can look them over and then join us in an on-air discussion/debate on Wednesdays during the show. Bring your own favorites and join in the conversation.
This week our Tuesday Top 5 is BREAKFAST CEREALS.
John’s Top Five:
1 – Cap’n Crunch
Cap’n my rear end! The man should be at least a Four-Star General. Best. Cereal. Ever. Yeah, I can hear your complaints right now. “Ohhhh, it scrapes the roof of my mouth!” Bull honkies! Yes, the cereal is hard. But I think Tom Hanks said it best in “A League of Their Own” when he said…. (fast forward to about 1:15.)
And forget that rancid peanut butter version and I can do without Crunch Berries or Choco-Crunch. Give me the real, leaded, pure Cap’n Crunch. It’s nature’s perfect food. (if all food was small, square and orange.)
2 – Grape Nuts
You wanna talk hard?!? This is a man’s cereal. It’s eating gravel. It doesn’t have a lot of flavor unless you (cue Def Leppard) pour some sugar on it, but it’s good. Nothing fancy. And unlike some people who wait for the cereal to get soggy, I relish those first few bites when it still has enough bite back. Work those teeth! Grind! Grind ! Grind!
3 – Cocoa Pebbles
I don’t like to drink the remaining milk in my cereal bowl. I know that sounds weird, but I try to scoop any remaining milk with the final few spoonfuls of cereal. But if there’s any leftover milk at the bottom of the bowl, it’s gone baby. Down the drain. There is one exception and this is it. Cocoa Freakin’ Pebbles. This is the king, queen, prince…. the whole royal family of chocolate flavored cereals. Cocoa Krispies? No. Cocoa Puffs? No. Count Chocula? No, but those marshmallows are tasty. Nope, this is the big dog and it’s time to let the big dog eat!………or, actually, it’s time to EAT THE BIG DOG! Woof!
4 – Sugar Smacks/Super Golden Crisp
These two are tied because they are the same cereal. No differentiation between the two. Except one has a frog on the box (“diggem”) and the other has a bear. Pretty simple cereal when you think about it. Sugar glazed wheat puffs. And if you think you’re eating healthy, think again. In a 2008 Consumer Reports study, these two cereals tied for the most sugar content – more than 50 percent (by weight), at least as much sugar in one serving as there is in a Dunkin Donuts glazed donut. They even recommended parents find cereals with better nutrition ratings that these two.
5 – Raisin Bran
When I’m in the mood for flaked cereals, this is the go-to. Don’t need figs, twigs or berries either. Just gimme those “two scoops” and I’m set.
Jack’s Top Five:
1 – Cinnamon Toast Crunch
As you go through my top 5, you’ll notice that I put a very high value on cereal that doesn’t get gross after sitting in milk for 30 seconds. There’s nothing less appetizing then pouring a bowl of cereal, and by your third spoonful, you’re eating something with consistency of a saltine soaked in water. Cinnamon Toast Crunch combines a heartiness that withstands milk reasonably well with the magical taste that could only be attained by combining cinnamon, sugar, and some other ingredient with crack-like appeal and dusting it over what looks like little tiny pieces of toast. Plus the after-cereal milk (see Bish’s reference above) from CTC is a beverage I’d buy separately if I could.
2 – Reece’s Puffs
It stands to reason that when the makers of my favorite candy bar took their product to the cereal world, I’m a big fan. It should be noted that this product is a creation of the last decade, and back in my 1990s cereal-eating heyday (college and bachelorhood), Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch occupied this spot. Sadly, for the Cap’n, he’s been replaced with Reece’s, which is superior in every imaginable way. Aside from Reeces’ fantastic ability to withstand milk sogginess, the peanut butter taste is more realistic and the paring with chocolate provides for a more diverse experience for the palate, not to mention better aesthetics. The Cap’n's peanut butter offering was much blander tasting and looking, and if you weren’t careful, it could easily be mistaken for the even less appealing Kix.
3- Waffle Crisp
I believe Waffle Crisp, while not necessarily a mainstream cereal brand name, to be the single most polarizing cereal in the last 25 years. Like the above entry, Waffle Crisp is relative newcomer, hitting shelves in 1996. If you aren’t familiar with this offering from Post Cereals, you should be aware that as soon as you rip open that bag, the smell of maple syrup will saturate everything within a 50-foot radius from the box. This intense syrup smell is repulsive to some (e.g. my wife), but it’s also the cereal’s saving grace, as its sheer intensity is incredibly pleasant to those who fancy that true waffle-eating experience. This is also one of the rare cereals that actually tastes exactly the same dry or in milk. I’ve talked about ability to withstand milk from a sogginess standpoint above, but it’s also important to note that milk also generally dilutes the taste of nearly any sugared cereal. I’ve not found a product that is as resistant to this problem as Waffle Crisp.
4- Lucky Charms
On its surface, it seems like the concept behind Lucky Charms should suck. Basically, they took a bunch of slightly frosted cereal pieces that look like they didn’t make the cut at the Alpha-Bits factory, and they mix in “marshmallows” that don’t have the consistency of anything I’ve ever roasted over a fire or put in hot chocolate. Yet somehow, it just works. Biting into the weird crunchy consistency of those marshmallows seems to produce some sort of endorphin rush in my body that I can’t explain. In the end, I’m fairly sure that I’ve got a capacity to eat a larger quantity of Lucky Charms than any other cereal on this list. Whenever I bust out the ‘Charms, it’s like some involuntary reflex comes over me that causes me to refill my bowl repeatedly. After 15 minutes, I’ll get up and realize that I’ve been in some sort of Lucky Charms blackout and have eaten an entire box in one sitting. It’s simultaneously satisfying and disturbing.
5 – Life
It’s probably clear from the rest of this list that I was denied sugary cereal most of my childhood, and when I got into my later teenage years and no longer had my mom regulating my cereal intake, I tried to make up for those lost years by consuming exclusively the most sugary, candy-like cereals to the point it almost became an addiction. Thanks to that period of my life, I have virtually no taste for any non-sugared or ‘adult’ cereal. I highly doubt I’ll ever eat a bowl of Rice Krispies, Cheerios or Wheaties again in my entire life. That said, for some reason I still have a taste for Life that I can’t explain. Perhaps it’s because when I ate it, I’d usually douse it with sugar, which seemed to stick better to Life, because of its vented construction. I did enough experimentation in an attempt to alter the taste of crappy cereal that I know trying the same with Cheerios or Rice Krisipes just left you with a useless pile of sugar at the bottom of the bowl.
We’ll be discussing our lists and taking your calls tomorrow during the show to see if you think we’ve made mistakes or oversights. Feel free to post your personal top 5 cereal lists in the comments section for the purposes of comparison and debate.