I can distinctly remember the first morning I walked into the “Junction” dining hall at Utah State University. A well-traveled, 20-year old east coaster looking to get my caffeine fix amidst a bunch of wide-eyed Mormon freshmen, I found myself out-of-place and gravitating away from the “hot options.” Biscuits and gravy, bacon, and omelets were never my style, and despite the various stations offering breakfast foods from every American culinary tradition, I more often than not would make a beeline towards the cereal bins.
And such began a two-year relationship with Utah’s State’s cereal options. familiar choices like Honey Nut Cheerios and Malt-O-Meal knockoffs of Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs were early options, but eventually, my more curious nature got the better of me. Coupled with the first time in my life in which I actually and willingly bought peanut butter on my own, you might say this created the perfect opportunity to dive into the world of candy as cereal.
Admonish me not friends, for I am well aware how I should have tried Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs years before I actually did. But you know what? When I finally did try it at my college dining hall, I wasn’t blown away like Leandra. Sure, they were sweet and peanut buttery and chocolatey, but something about the crunchy corn nuggets didn’t strike me as worth a morning bowl. At least not over the likes of Marshmallow Matey’s.
I went for quite a while without eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs, until an intriguing craving for Peanut Butter cereal (brought on by the new Multigrain Peanut Butter Cheerios) forced my hand at the grocery store. Given the availability of non-pretentious peanut butter based cereals, my choices were rather limited. And all due respect for the Cap’n, but he just doesn’t have chocolate in his Crunch.
I don’t know whether the Utah winter dulled my taste buds or if I’ve just evolved in my fondness of peanut butter, but I was completely wrong on Reese’s Puffs the first time around. A word, first, is in order about the box, and the Big G kid.
I love this kid, mostly because he reminds me of a character from my favorite childhood cartoon. Histeria! may not have equaled Doug or Beast Wars in terms of viewers, but I always found the semi-educational yet always musically clever series to be a must watch (especially in their rendition of military history). Anyways, back to Big G kid. Looking like my man Loud Kidington, he just happens to be the kind of “X-factor” of nostalgia and sentimentality that instantly earns a cereal bonus points in my mind. One step short of proving me with Star Wars themed marshmallows or a toy, this is about all I ask from a cereal box. That Big G kid’s eyes are rolled up in his head and that he lacks a lower set of teeth notwithstanding, I consider him a model of excellence every child should aspire to.
As for the cereal itself, I find it one of those few cereals which is equally enjoyable as both a snack and in milk. A kind of oily, sugary coating that smells of cocoa powder and peanut butter hits you with that signature Reese’s Cups intensity, and while you’ll never confuse the crunchy corn spheres for actual candy, the salty and hint-of-molasses exterior does carry with it that enjoyable mouthfeel of peanut butter and smooth chocolate. The taste is balanced if not perfected, with enough salt to let you know it has depth, and enough molasses taste to make you savor each piece. The cocoa strikes me as less harsh than Cocoa Puffs and more milk chocolatey — not necessarily a bad thing, mind you, given that we’re combining it with peanut butter.
I think one of the mistakes I made when first eating this cereal in college was having it in skim milk. BIG MISTAKE. Having experimented with coconut milk recently I can only tell you that enjoying a cereal with skim milk is like enjoying a trip to the dentist (read: not enjoyable in the least, unless you like anesthesia and bad jokes). In anything with some substance, however, the smoothness of the coating only takes on an even richer taste, highlighting the salty-sweet combo and giving you that signature chocolate and peanut butter explosion that takes you back to Halloween binges at the King size cereal bar people’s house.
Why I don’t buy this cereal more often is beyond me. Well, actually, it’s not. With so many options to choose from it’s easy to see how something like Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs gets put on the backburner every now and then, but really, as a peanut butter cereal, is there any question it’s king? Granted, I havne’t had many (I am ashamed to admit I’ve never had Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch) but I think this classic and award-winning combo just found its way back into my Top 10. And this time, I think it’s here to stay.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs
- Price: 2.00 (Giant, with coupon)
- Ranking: 9/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 100%
Your turn. Best peanut butter cereal out there? And is Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch better than Reese’s Puffs?