One day, when I’m the head of a conglomerate of cereal and ice cream companies, my first order of business will be to increase the amount of underrated fruit flavors in cereal. Aside from prohibiting subsequent “Honey Nut” flavors and setting limits on the amount of Chex and Cheerios flavors produced, I’ll make sure to give Blueberry its proper seat at the breakfast table.
Maybe it’s because summer has finally arrived, or maybe it’s just because I’ve grown bored with cereals featuring maple or chocolate, but I’ve been on a real blueberry kick as of late. Problem is, Blueberry tends to be one of those flavors (much like Banana) that can never truly be copied in a packaged box, with attempts often coming out as cloying and artificial at best, and downright objectionable at worst.
Not that companies don’t try, and not that I’m going to give up on blueberry flavored cereals entirely. By some rare convergence of market forces, I even managed to find myself looking at three distinct blueberry cereals in my family’s pantry. Struck by this occurrence, I decided this bounty was bequeathed for one reason and one reason only.
Yes friends, a throwdown. Let’s get to it.
Blueberry Muffins Tops (Malt-O-Meal)
A cereal with cult like status for college age penny pinchers who frequently find it on the shelves of Super Walmarts, BMT is your standard Cinnamon Toast Crunch-type cereal with a twist. That twist is a beyond cloying blueberry sweetness matched only by a heavy coating of sugar crystals and tiny specks of blue. Each piece has an oily sheen and a crisp-fried mouthfeel, but the taste is classic blueberry muffin, albeit in the Hostess bakery sense. The exterior sugar coating is thick and almost sticky, making snackability difficult if you should find yourself in a public place. But that sugary coating? Lets just say it would get the kids from Heavyweights expelled from Camp Hope. Surprisingly, the multigrain element does come through when you get past the initial sweetness, as does a strong blueberry flavor that isn’t so drowned out by thirst-inducing sugar rush. Still, one won’t find any sour or astringent notes, and the serving size equates to a very, very small amount of squares. In milk it has a tendency to take on liquid like the Titanic, but a dissemination of the surface oil leads to a cut in the sugar rush and an enjoyable chew.
- X-Factors: Buying in bulk at Super Walmart. Resealable bag. DOES NOT GO BAD. Still made with hydrogenated oils.
- Best If You Want…The most insane sugar rush in a cereal you could ever imagine. Also, a Hostess blueberry muffin.
- Could use some…Milk. And lots of it. With so much sugar this stuff just makes you thirsty. Also, a single serving container. A simple “bowl” can get out of control, really, really quickly.
Special K Blueberry (Kelloggs)
It took me a while to finally convince my mom to let a non Chocolate Special K into the household, but as a snack cereal, I wasn’t overly impressed with the blueberry edition of the lineup. Not only does the cereal box scream an an ethos of “fit into that bikini by eating bland Special K!” but it contains no mazes or other fun cartoon characters. The base itself is somewhere between crispy and crunchy, but the rice element is bland and the flavor is a mild generic berry more than anything else. It’s not all bad news though. The little blueberry oat clusters have a needed crunch and malted sweetness, but like all cluster cereals they tend to sink to the bottom of the box. I toughed out a bowl in milk (skim milk, to keep with the Special K ethos) but aside from a light blue color, the end milk just tastes like the insipid water it is. The flakes disintegrate too easily in milk, and while the berry flavor is actually less masked by the multigrain base, it’s not enough to excite me. Unless, maybe, I was on a perpetual Special K challange, and had visions of myself fitting into that bikini this summer.
- X-Factors: Blueberry oat clusters. Moderate amount of sugar (8 grams).
- Best If You Want…to lose weight while enjoying a mild blueberry flavor with, I’m presuming, a half cup of skim milk and a Lifetime movie.*
- Could use some…actual dried blueberries. A cup of heavy cream to wash it down with.
Frosted Mini Wheats Blueberry Muffin (Kelloggs)
For all the praise I’ve sung for the Little Bites this was actually the first time I went with any of the fruit flavored Mini Wheat flavors. As a snack I don’t think you can best the structure. The pieces are solid and have a nice glaze that’s very sweet, but the catacombs of wheat on the interior also have dots of blue that give a more subtle backnote of blueberry flavor, especially in milk. I’d say the flavor is more blueberry muffin than blueberry, and just a tad less sweet than Malt-o-Meal’s version. The flavor won’t give you any sour or tart notes, but it does strike me as a little higher class than Malt-o-Meal’s rendition. In milk the sugared coating takes on a sumptuous mouthfeel, while the wheat squares slowly disintegrate in layers, giving you different levels of a soggy crunch with backnotes of berry. The end milk is sweet and drinkable, and like Doug Heffernan looking down on his last spoonful of pudding, I find myself becoming sad as my food ends. That’s ok though, because the end-dust is like a crunchy version of a blueberry pixie stick.
- X-Factors: Talking Mini Wheat cartoon characters. Crunchy sugar coating. Respectable nutrition. Addicting end dust. Solid commercials.
- Best If You Want…Need a discreet blueberry muffin fix without sending yourself into a sugar shock.
- Could use some…Sugared blueberry coating on the naked side. Blueberry “goo” in the middle.
Winner: Mini Wheats Little Bites
Who are we kidding? When it comes to blueberry cereal, I’m of the mindset that you’re better going with the mass-produced, cloying taste of soybean oil and glycerin than anything remotely tasting like an actual tart and plump blueberry. But where Malt-O-Meal’s Blueberry Muffin Tops is way-over-the-top, Kellogg’s Mini Wheat version is just over-the-top, and has the benefit of being both a great and portable snack, and a “proper” spoon and bowl cereal.
Your Turn: Anyone got any favorite blueberry flavored cereals out there? And to the eternal question: which Mini Wheats and/or Special K cereal do you like the best?
*I’m not discriminating. Substitute an entire box of Waffle Crisp and an old college football game, and you’ve got my life.