A few weeks ago I posted a not-review of the new Honey Bunches of Oat Fruit Blends flavors. Realizing purchasing an additional two boxes of cereal at that time would have likely landed me a place on Hoarders, I made sure to file away the two new flavors under the “must try” list once I polished off two boxes of Waffle Crisp and a box each of Peanut Butter Cheerios and Kashi GoLean Cinnamon Crumble.
About 139 grams of sugar later I am happy to report those boxes are in the recycling bin and the morning bowl is being filled with actual flakes of crispy banana and crunchy raspberry.
Honey Bunches of Oats will always hold a special place in my heart as being one of the first adult-marketed cereals to really intrigue me and get me off the concept of eating cereals with sugar as their first ingredient. Even for a Froot Loop like myself, the plain Honey Roasted version had enough sweetness and textural contrast to keep me interested, teaming up with Kelloggs’ Smart Start and Quaker Life to form the first beginnings of sugar-overload restraint on the part of 13-year old Adam’s morning of mindless hand-to-box cereal snacking. Unfortunately, my love of HBO’s has ebbed and flowed with the release of different flavors, reaching peaks with the now-discontinued Banana, Chocolate, and Apples and Cinnamon flavors, and seeing disinterest with Raisin, Almonds, and Vanilla.
The latest version of the family tree comes in two mash-ups promising two flavors each; one pairing Crispy Banana flavored Flakes with Crunchy Blueberry flavored Granola Clusters, the other matching up Peach flavored Flakes with Raspberry flavored Granola Clusters.
Notice how I mentioned flavored. Unlike the Strawberry, Raisin, and Peach flavors of the cereal, the Fruit blends don’t actually include real fruit. Once I realized this I was a little skeptical of buying either, although having tried both, I’m much more willing to overlook the lack of actual fruit in one flavor over the other.
First up is the Banana and Blueberry Blend. The Banana flavor is subtle, which is how I like it best. Not betraying a cloyingly sweet Banana Cheerios flavor, it compliments the light crisp of the Corn flakes perfectly, and takes on intermittent bursts of a blueberry syrup flavor from the crunchier granola pieces. The smaller, moderate crisp of the brown-sugar tasting wheat pieces rounds out the flavors and completed the textural symphony, as I found myself enjoying the harmony of crunch and crisp, sweet and wholesome equally with or without milk. Nutritionally, it’s hard to beat six grams of sugar if you’re into the whole “sugar is the devil” thing, although a gram of fiber and a paltry two grams of protein don’t compete with the Kashi offerings.
I really enjoyed the Banana and Blueberry Blend but didn’t find Peach and Raspberry to rock my world so much. As a complete side note, does anyone pronounce the “p” in “Raspberry?” It’s gotta be the most worthless letter this side of the French language. Nevertheless, I suppose it’s worth saying that the flavor of a peach can never truly be captured in syrup or “artificial flavor” form. The flavor in the cereal comes off as too tart and synthetic, almost metallic to an extent. Like a quarterback forcing a wobbly ball into triple coverage, it tries to get too cute but will never be able to complete the perfect spiral that is a perfectly ripe peach of late July. The raspberry flavor isn’t as assertive or impactful of the blueberry flavor, and instead of getting two distinct and contrasting notes of fruits with varying profiles of sweet and astringent, I’m really just getting an artificial peach vibe without even the textural annoyance of a dehydrated peach. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not inedible, but it does a disservice to how good the Banana and Blueberry flavor is.
The Banana and Blueberry Fruit Blend is definitely worth your time, but amidst a plethora of existing Honey Bunches of Oats flavors, the Peach Flakes and Raspberry Clusters doesn’t make the cut. Which, I guess, is the essential problem of a brand like Honey Bunches of Oats (along with poor oats cluster distribution when you first open the box). The brand has become a microcosm of the cereal aisle, providing way too many choices amidst a slew of even more choices. And while I’m definitely sold on the flavors of Banana and Blueberry, it’s not likely bring me out of perpetual mourning for the discontinued Chocolate Clusters.
Honey Bunches of Oats Banana Flakes and Blueberry Clusters
- Price: $2.50 (On sale at Weis Markets)
- Ranking: 7/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 60%
Honey Bunches of Oats Peach Flakes and Raspberry Clusters
- Price: $2.50 (On sale at Weis Markets)
- Ranking: 4/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 15%