If there’s one thing I dislike about cereal, it’s that it’s hardly seasonal. Count Chocula and Christmas Crunch with their timely box art and release dates be damned, I’m talking about flavors here, people! With the full force of autumn gripping us, there is an intrinsic need to satiate that craving for fall produce and the warming effects of cinnamon and nutmeg. But for as awesome as a cereal like Roasted Butternut Squash with maple syrup and ginger sounds, there are few seasonally appropriate flavors featuring fall’s classic flavors.
Or are there?
I think we can all agree that if there exists a quintessential autumn cereal, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios belongs in the discussion. There are other apple and cinnamon flavored cereals, of course, and even some Apple Cinnamon flavored cereals. But the classic combination of flavors seems no more wholesome or complete then in the familiar oat shaped O’s that only Cheerios can bring us, and has been bringing us without interruption for over two decades . Loving autumn above all seasons, and cereal above many, many snacks, I guess you could say that it’s ironic — if not pathetic – that the last time I ate Apple Cinnamon Cheerios was years ago. With the leaves falling faster and the getting slimmer, however, I felt it high-time to see if the classic cereal deserves its iconic image.
Did You Know? Apple Cinnamon Cheerios was the third flavor of Cheerios to be released, first hitting shelves in 1988. Cheerios debuted in 1941, with Honey Nut Cheerios coming out in 1979.
I think it goes without saying we all have our favorite flavor of Cheerios, with many of us perhaps even subscribing to a Cheerio Cognition Theory which states the first kind of Cheerio we eat will always be our favorite. For me, it’s Honey Nut hands down. I love the glaze. I love the honey taste. I even love the fact that it gets its own mascot. Still, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t give the other flavors of Cheerios enough of a chance.
Case in point, Apple Cinnamon Cheerios. I poured myself a bowl amidst the perfect setting. A crisp and cool fall evening may not scream breakfast table to you, but the sweet cinnamon taste and hearty oat flavors of the O’s don’t discriminate. I’m immediately struck by the cinnamon flavor. It’s clean and warming, as opposed to rich and heavy (Cinnamon Toast Crunch) or harsh and overly earthy (Kashi GoLean Cinnamon Crumble). The thing about the flavor is that it seems to transcend just cinnamon alone. There are brown sugar notes as well, and I swear a whole host of those classic fall spices like cloves and ginger.
It’s a bold flavor, but it’s not an overhwelming sensation to overtake the apple flavor, nor loud enough to detract from the sweetness or hearty oat flavor of the O’s themselves. There’s something about the sweet start and slightly astringent finish of the flavor that goes extremely well with the oat base, which unlike the Apple Cinnamon Version of Chex, doesn’t suffer from any lack of baked-in flavor.
Pouring some milk over the cereal (a third cup skim mixed with two tablespoons Half-and-Half, for body and flavor) I like how the oats absorb the milk while still staying crunchy enough to resist falling apart. The sweetness takes on a wonderfully mellow flavor that accentuates the milk’s flavor. It’s almost like warm apple cobbler of ice cream in terms of taste, leaving a delicious end-milk with the perfect amount of sweetness and spice.
Something tells me I’m an idiot for having gone so long without reminding myself of how good Apple Cinnamon Cheerios are. Eating the cereal both plain and without milk, I really can’t find anything I dislike about it. It comes off as hearty and full flavored, with enough snackability to also make a great base for trail mix bags. I think, if there is one flaw, it’s that of most flavors of Cheerios — namely, there’s only one textural note. Still, given how Honey Bunches of Oats with Apple Bunches no longer exists, and how the Cheerios with Oats Clusters seems to have been taken off the market, I think it’s safe to say Apple Cinnamon Cheerios is the definitive source of fall flavors in cereal form.
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (Website and Nutrition Info)
- Price: $1.67 (on sale at Safeway)
- Ranking: 8.5/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 100% (next year)