Congratulations. You made it out of Thanksgiving alive. Whether you were subjected to the gossip and banter of the kid’s table or outlived the freezing lines of late-night Black Friday camp-outs, you’ve made it into December, and that’s a credit to your gastronomic gusto and eating prowess. Turkey, alcohol, stuffing, leftovers. Even an ad-hoc homemade cranberry sauce made on a mountaintop in Virginia when you forgot the sugar back home in Maryland. The sweetness you tasted? Oh. That was the Jet Puff mallows you melted down to make a syrup.
And you still saved room for pie.
Yes, pie. I myself made the traditional Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, albeit one made with a damaged pie crust set as a base above a baking pan. Call it a gingery and cinnamon take on brownies, if you must, but I call it a yummy way to start the season in which the traditionally round, flaky crusts encase a plethora of sweet and rich fillings. Pumpkin. Apple. Lemon Meringue. Pecan.
Ah, pecans. The richest, sweetest, heck, the most expensive nuts there are, pecans have long captured my attention. Thankfully, I don’t need to sit around a table of annoying relatives and confess my thankfulness to get a taste of pecans. The cereal world is more than happy to indulge my epicurean curiosity for the autumnal dessert staple.
A word to the sugary and sweet; I’m not much of a fan of Special K products. Ok, so their breakfast sandwiches were better than tolerable, but aside from buying the faux Chocolate cereal known as “Choclatey Delight” for my mom, I shun their products like a sumo wrestler shuns a salad bar. Nevertheless, I’ve heard good things of Special K’s Cinnamon Pecan cereal, and unable to locate the Pecan Clusters version of Honey Bunches of Oats (now apparently discontinued) I decided to stoop to the classic ‘low calorie’ cereal choice.
(It’s at this point that I must subject you to an aside about how I hate the ethos inspired by Special K product. It may be an ethos of ‘losing weight’ under a guise of great tasting products, but it assigns the worth of said product to it’s value in helping one to lose weight as the only thing the product line has going for it. In that respect, it limits what the cereal can be to others, and reduces its own value and the value of the target demographic to one of calories, the scale, and some promise that losing weight makes a woman (and only a woman) happy. The entire premise, if you ask me, is highly akin to modern feminism’s fixation on sex and what it likes to call ‘reproductive rights’ as a manner of worth for women. It is, in effect, a limiting characteristic which denies a person, or a cereal, its full potential. My sister, mind you, is far more than just body parts and hormones, just as I, as a male, am also more than those things. So much like how any given human being is more dynamic and has more going on for themselves than just their reproductive organs or carnal desires, so Special K cereals are more than just a low-calories cereal which will help women reach some magical number that will suddenly make their life perfect. God forbid any person, regardless of age, sex, weight, etc. can enjoy it for its taste and/or affordability. Don’t like my analogy? Tough.)
Back to the box (although not the boring back-of-the-box lecture about the Special K diet.) I have to admit my expectations were not high for a pecan flavored cereal with all of 110 calories per serving. Pecans have a very high and rich oil content – making 110 calories more or less the equivalent of a mere half ounce of pecans. Still, low and behold “pecans” showed up on the ingredient list, and after breaking open the box, I can confirm Special K wasn’t telling tales out of school. Behold:
What we have here are three elements to the cereal makeup – flakes, glazed flakes, and pecan pieces. Starting with a dry snack run, I can’t say I am very impressed with the regular flakes. To their credit, they’re not to be counted with the insipid rice flakes of the plain Special K flavor. These flakes have a distinctive wheaty taste a shade more restrained than Wheaties, yet they also strike me as just as needed a bit more sugar. That said, the glazed flakes, which have a shiny coating of syrup and cinnamon, are very good. The cinnamon taste is exceptionally spicy, while the smooth mouthfeel makes for a really good burst in the middle of the roughly 4:1 regular flakes to glazed flake ratio. The last component is the Pecans. A single, blind pour that yielded 30 grams (a serving) of cereal also yielded two grams, or approximately five small pieces, of pecans. I tasted one alone and it was everything you’d want it to be. Full of flavor and oily, it was smoky and rich, buttery and earthy-sweet. Eaten with a small handful of flakes, the flavor is not as intense, but it still stands out to bind all the components with a nutty aftertaste.
I was slightly less impressed with the ability of the pecans to bind the taste of the flakes together when I added milk. The cinnamon flavor was no longer as prominent, and despite a not objectionable wheat and bran taste, I picked up less on the rich and earthy flavors of the pecans and very little of the malt flavoring. This is where I felt the cereals 7 grams of sugar failed. Had all the flakes been given a glazed brown sugar syrup and malt coating the cereal’s sweetness would have likely stood up better in milk, but as it was, the best thing I can say about the flakes in milk is that they avoid the airy crisp that the Regular Special K cereal is famous for. Not great, but definitely not objectionable.
If Special K Cinnamon Pecan was banking only on its Cinnamon flavor, I’d say it’s the classic case of a cereal trying to walk the ‘healthy’ line and coming up a few grams of sugar too short. However, the addition of real pecan pieces, even in a small amount, makes up for its sweetness deficiencies, and create a complete and richly spicy bite when eaten as a snack. While I can’t say it’ll make the normal rotation, it does garner points for being one of the few mainstream cereals to utilize the expensive nut, and, in my opinion, one of the few Special K products worth a try. Just don’t bank on it to replace that Holiday pecan pie—especially if you have a southern grandmother.
Special K Cinnamon Pecan (Nutrition and Website)
- Price: $2.50 (on sale at Safeway)
- Ranking: 7/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 50%