Working on the campus on the campus of the United States Naval Academy affords me a few opportunities. One of those opportunities is to chance to meet some real, in-the-flesh, Navy people. You could include amongst these individuals a number of Captains. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some men, some women, some in actual command of ships, and some drydocked. But none of them look like this guy:
Naval credentials aside, there’s no disputing the following of swashbucklers and seamen that Cap’n Crunch commands. While I’ve yet to submit to full impressment to his cereals and his cereals alone, I’ve dabbled in Crunchberries from time to time, and respect the iconic nature of the Original. Yet when it comes to one of his most popular vessels of war, Peanut Butter Crunch, I’ve yet to step on board.
What took me so long, you ask? The reasons are many, but at the end of the day, despite developing a newfound appreciation for peanut butter, the results still the same. I had been avoiding the Captain’s peanut butter ship because I was serving aboard an enemy craft, the venerable, if not unsinkable, U.S.S. Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs.
Would a tour of the Cap’n's arsenal convince me to abandon my principles of cereal allegiance and defect from General Mills to Quaker? There was only one way to find out.
The initial taste of Peanut Butter Crunch is salty-sweet, with a distinctive peanut butter flavor that could almost pass as coming right out of the jar. The pieces are crunchy and airy, slightly gritty to the palate, but smoother than, say, similar toasted corn cereals like Kix. It doesn’t really taste like classic Cap’n Crunch, but there’s no mistaking the Peanut Butter taste. It strikes me as intense and “natural,” like those peanut butter brands which don’t add any sugar and just rely on ground peanuts. I can appreciate it but I think it could use a little more sugar, or, at the very least, a little less of a slight corn and salt aftertaste.
The saltiness dissipates a little in milk, but it still carriers enough weight to avoid any cloying connotation. Slightly more “creamy” in terms of mouthfeel while in milk, the corn and peanut butter based puffs take on a delectably if not signature stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth feel that many have come to expect from both Peanut Butter and Captain Crunch. Personally, I like the sensation. It allows you to enjoy a genuine peanut butter flavor, and to slow down in the mindless spoonfuls that sometime consume the serial cereal eater. The end-milk though is pretty worthless. It doesn’t absorb the sweetness well, and doesn’t taste of peanut butter.
I can’t help but feel something is missing from the Cap’n's Battleship of Peanut Butter power. While the depth of peanut butter flavor is more natural tasting than Reese’s, the mouthfeel of the pieces suffers from a certain degree of grit and lack of smoothness. Likewise, the salt to sugar ratio just doesn’t match the tastes of what you’d expect in a kids cereal, while a darker sweetener would be preferable to just plain old sugar. Last but not least, the cereal is just to one-note. Peanut Butter without chocolate or peanut butter without jelly is like a bagel without cream cheese. I mean, it’s good, but it’s just so much better when you add that much-needed sidekick. Like a Pirate Captain without a first Matey, or just Mike Leach without an efficient starting quarterback, Peanut Butter Crunch losses itself on the high seas in search of the treasure island of cereal awesomeness.
And now, to get the opinion of another great, not quite an actual Pirate Captain. Mike Leach, your thoughts?
Current Rankings for Peanut Butter Cereals:
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs
- Peanut Butter Multigrain Cheerios
- Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch
- Pebbles Boulders Chocolate Peanut Butter
- Mothers’ Peanut Butter Bumpers
Food for Thought: What’s the best Cap’n Crunch Flavor (Seasonal and discontinued versions fair game)
Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch
- Price: $2.00 (On sale at Safeway)
- Ranking: 7/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 65%