Sainsbury’s Choco-Hazelnut Squares

I have to give some credit to Sainsbury’s here.

Most imitations are blatant, wholesale rip-offs of the branded good. Today we’re talking about an imitation product of the Kellogg’s Krave cereal: cereal squares filled with chocolate or hazelnut ganache.

Sainsbury’s took this idea, but with one pretty major difference. They’ve sold it in handy lunch-box sized packs, marketing it as an “on-the-go” breakfast cereal alternative which does not require milk. Although this concept is new in the UK (cereals as packaged on the go-no-milk snacks), an earlier review of Cadbury’s Chocolate Squares in SouthEast Asia on this blog shows that it’s been around in the eastern market for a year or two.

Sainsburys choco hazelnut squares(2)

Although Nestle has got it’s 5-in-1 sachets of Cheerios and Cookie Crunch in supermarkets, those aren’t advertised as “milk-free” alternatives (then again, eating cereal out of the box has been something so many of us have been doing!)

So you see: the packet itself is small, at 40g, constituting what “should be” one serving of cereal. I paid 59p for this; which is pretty expensive considering an average 375g box of cereal costs less than 2 pounds per box, and which contains upwards of 8-10 servings.

I don’t like the animal on the packet. I (think) it’s an Owl, and 20 guesses how Sainsbury’s related that to it’s Choco-Hazelnut squares. It clearly does not exclude the “children” target market, given its colours and graphics which could appeal both to young and old.

Small squares. Deformed. Bent? Sheesh. Talk about some bad product consistency here. In my history of eating “squared” cereals, I’ve never encountered such mishaps. Broken is fine, but totally misshaped? That points to some manufacturing defects in the product “baking / forming” itself, which shouldve been picked up early in the developmental process.

Sainsburys choco hazelnut squares

At least it’s light and puffy, despite it’s thi character. To me that’s a good thing, since this leads on to the thicker (texturally) ganache. Too thick an exterior wouldn’t let you enjoy the smoothness of the inner filling; and this cereal avoids that pitfall. It’s got a good crunch initially as well, which collapses into the light puff, and finally, the ganache.

I wonder if it’s worth mentioning this; but I thought the corners were  sharp; angular squares are appealing, but I can imagine something too “sharp” being dangerous to little mouths (I.e Kids).  This might be due to the thin-ness of each piece, since a “fat” corner wouldn’t be sharp would it; but I guess that’s something we’ll have to ask the manufacturer.

The outer shell of the cereal didn’t taste very wheaty: some might like this, some might not. It was more like a “pillow puff” version of Cornflakes, with a clear corn / grit taste to it. It’s also lightly sweetened; I did not detect any “distinct” sweetness worth mentioning on its own.

The ganache was dull as well. It wasn’t “bad” tasting. It had little hazelnut aromas, not even the cheap-sweet-nutella-esque that is so common in hazelnut confectionery. I suppose one can’t expect very much from a grocery store brand. Kellogg’s Chocolate Hazelnut Krave beats this on Hazelnut taste hands-down. There was “chocolate”. Nothing deep-cocoa-ey, but just plain sweetness. As you can tell, I’m having difficulty explaining the taste characteristics of this cereal. It’s just that bland.

A sad thing then, that what was the perfect “canvas”  (the puff) for the ganache had ultimately gone to waste. Sainsbury’s Choco Hazelnut Squares’ ganache was a let-down.

Nutritionally, I’d expect this to fare better, sugar-wise, then Krave. This wasn’t the case. There isn’t much too different between this cereal and Krave’s nutritionals. At 420kcal /100g, they’re roughly identical, sad to say. The 40g serving-size  pack that you buy this in will surprise you as well, as 40g isn’t very much.

(Sorry for not having a picture of this one. I snapped one, but it was blurry, and oddly enough didn’t show that it was blurry when I previewed the shot after.)

Sorry Sainsbury’s, but Kellogg’s Krave takes the cake, and it’s cheaper for the box too.

-The Exercising Male

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Hubbard’s Big Bugs n’ Mud – Chocolate Clusters Cereal

Another chocolate-themed cereal. I hope the readers don’t hate me for this, but how do you divorce your favourite treat from breakfast? Ok maybe we could say that this one’s slightly different from the rest – the name itself is kinda gross: “bugs”, “mud”. Ah well.

Hubbard’s is an established cereal brand in Australia, and New Zealand. I was able to get a hold of it in the expat / fairly upmarket grocery store here in Kuala Lumpur. It’s priced lower than the American cereals (proximity, perhaps?) Though it’s… Just as tasty.

 

Something I’ve realised when it comes to box art: it differs from country to country, according to the origin of the brand. American brands, I’d say we’re familiar with. Mascots, creatures like Tony the Tiger, Cap’n Crunch, with separate, non-generic identities adorn american cereal packages. I’ve found that Hubbard’s and Nestle use more general characters, unnamed things to represent the image, relying on colour and little else to convey their brand.

Big Bugs n’ Mud from Hubbard’s uses a crocodile, and other background entities to convey its branding. I can’t quite draw a direct relationship between the crocodile and the nature of the cereal, other than jaws + crunch. Then again, what the heck does a tiger have to do with Frosties?

(C.f. read The Great American Cereal Book for some info on this. It’s a lovely book for all cereal lovers!)

Clusters. Well, that’s what this cereal claims to be anyway. The cereal bag was filled with broken chunks, problem being that each chunk was small – the largest, about the size of your thumbnail. I guess these qualify as “clusters” when you compare them to Honey Bunches of Oats, with similar clusters. But boy was I hoping for hefty chunks. I thought “Big Bugs” meant Beetle sized pieces. I wasn’t sure whether to fault the importer / distributor (poor shipping methods), or to fault Hubbards (truly small clusters) – but what might be useful to note is that the clusters are awfully fragile: even lifting one could cause it to crumble.

They’re crunchy alright. Light, puffed wheat, rice, and barley tossed in a cocoa compound, giving it that “dried mud” look. I guess it’s quite hard to NOT be crunchy if you’re puffed, especially in air-tight packaging. I liked the bite. It was refreshing, and it stayed like that in milk for the entire duration of the cereal experience, without going soft and putrid.

I also liked the fact that the variety of grains was discernible: puffed rice grains were intact, long; puffed wheat was pillowy, as if biting into a pocket of air.

Maybe that aspect of the cereal could be seen to be analogous to… The “Big Bugs”, a variety of bugs in your cereal. How appetizing.

On to taste. Off the cuff – I had expected myself to be dismissing Big Bugs n’ Mud cereal right now, for being “overly sweet in a Cocopops” way. Surprise surprise. It was lacking in chocolatey-sweetness to the extent that I wouldn’t even say it was sweet, but rather, that it had a “tinge / touch / morsel / nibble” of sugar, juuust enough to give it some flavour.

In short – it’s pretty tasteless, for something which calls itself “chocolatey clusters”.

That could be forgiven if the cereal had some darker, mature chocolate notes. But this had none of those characteristics, and only had its “wheaty / grainy” taste, that comes with having a grain base.

Problem with the above? The less-sweet motif doesn’t quite match up with its nutritionals.

You get 160kcal for a 2/3 cup serving, which isn’t much. You could eat a similar amount of some sweeter granolas for that. Protein content isn’t particularly high either, less than 4g in that serving. You get more from a bowl of Bran, or Special K.

Well – to end off: i have to insert this picture – all my reviews thus far have it.

 

The Thumb Shot.

This cereal was boring, other than for the crunchy variety of grains. Not very “chocolatey” at all. Guess those of us not from Australia and New Zealand aren’t missing out on much, from this offering by Hubbard’s then.

-The Exercising Male

 

Sweetkiss Mini Crunch Mocha Cream Filled Cereal

This is about as “local” as it gets: this cereal is not only from a Malaysian brand, but it was also manufactured in an obscure province in Malaysia. Sweetkiss is known within the confectionery industry here as an “imitator”. Walk into any discount supermarket and you’ll find that it has imitations of all the major products by the confectionery giants. (i’ve spent some time recently in a large confectionery company, and its employees revealed this nugget of information – Sweetkiss prices their imitations at almost half the price of the originals)

What kind of imitations? You’ve got Sweetkiss’ version of Nestle’s Kit Kat, which they have named 2Finger; they’ve got a version of Nabisco’s Oreos (which aren’t even named, but are coloured similarly)

And – today we’ve got their version of chocolate-filled breakfast cereal. What most of us are familiar with in the UK and US as Kellogg’s Krave, or Tesco’s Pillows (reviewed here); or in France, as Kellogg’s Tresor. In Malaysia, however, CADBURY – yes, CADBURY – has their version of this snack, which they’ve named “Cadbury Bytes”. Bytes are marketed as a snack, and not a cereal, and are sold in small 40g, or 80g packs.

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The imitation by Sweetkiss has been similarly marketed as a snack, akin to crisps, in an 80g pack. Below you’ll see what the pack is like; and, perhaps of interest to you, would be how these packs are placed on the confectionery isle, a “hybrid” product offering somewhere between chocolates and biscuits / wafers.

Sweetkiss Mini Crunch Mocha Cream Filled Cereal: large, thin rectangles, of some cereal shell, supposedly containing “mocha cream”. I say “supposedly”, because this “cream” is actually a compound chocolate (or mockolate, as some may prefer to say).

 

From the pictures below, i think we can conclude three things:

1) The colour of these things is just horrible. Cardboard-like, dull; Where’s the light brown we all know and love, and which we associate with a “wholemeal” / healthy / cereal-grain product? Clearly, Sweetkiss didn’t think of this.

2) How flat. Ugly. Not plump like Krave or Tresor. (although those cereals may be plump but empty, as we’d seen in the Tesco pillows)

3) Awful innards that look more like a powdery compound, than a “mocha cream”

Of course, the old saying goes – “one should not judge a book by its cover”. The sad thing is, that from here, everything is just plain bad.

It wasn’t crunchy in a “fresh” way, like cornflakes or branflakes. The crunch was akin to a Loacker / Quadratini wafer – a denser crunch, and not light at all. I did not feel refreshed from biting into this. Perhaps that could have been the intention of the manufacturers, since Sweetkiss Mini Crunch IS packaged as a confectionery snack, and not as a breakfast cereal. Even then, even IF the dense crunch satisfies as a snack, I wouldn’t be munching on this Mini Crunch product, on account of its taste.

The mocha cream was terrible. It was artificial, just a simple “sugar”-sweetness, and lacked the two characteristics of a good “mocha’ or “cappuccino” flavour.

Mocha = Chocolate + Coffee

Cappuccino = Milk Foam + Coffee

In this snack, the “Coffee” element was lacking. Where was the espresso aroma? Where was the (sometimes) woodsy / oaksy depth of a PROPER coffee? I think my standards are too high here, however, since i drink espresso everyday, and the local coffee in Malaysia tends to be brewed from a mixture of Robusta beans and some flour compound (well, something has to give way if a cup of coffee costs 30 pence, right?)

Chocolate? Fail. Compound chocolate, and a poor one at that. The picture isn’t very clear, but trust me – there isn’t any “milk chocolate” used here, and it would be illegal for Sweetkiss to say so. In Malaysia, most local confectionery is compound chocolate (i.e. chocolate-FLAVOURED, and not MILK CHOCOLATE). If the compound chocolate was decent, like those made by Nestle, than that’s ok. But here it was horrid: powdery, an undiscernible melt, lacking in any dairy aromas (even if artificial)

How do you redeem this snack?

Perhaps by virtue of nutritionals, and price.

Nutritionals: There aren’t any available from the website, and all i have is this unfocussed picture here.

In any case, the entire pack (80g) / standardized to 100g contains:
Energy – 366kcal / 458kcal
Total Fat – 16g / 20g
Sat Fat – 7g / 8.1g
Trans Fat – 0g
Carbohydrates – 36g / 45g
of which sugars – 19g / 23g
Dietary Fiber – 0g
Protein – 6g / 7.5g

Not as “bad” as your typical granola, which tends to cross 500kcal / 100g. Here we have 0g of Fiber, surprisingly low levels of sugar, but high levels of fat. I suppose we could be thankful that there isn’t any transfat in this, despite it being the “budget-offering” on the supermarket aisle. Budget offerings, especially in Asia, tend to use cheap substitutes for cocoa butter and palm oil, resorting to hydrogenated fats, which have been proven to have a detrimental effect to our health.

-The Exercising Male

Barbara’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Barbara’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins..a flavour and variety that sounds as if it should be so unhealthy, yet marketed and sold as being “virtuous”, “healthy” and “all natural”. I’ve tried the original Peanut Butter Puffins in the past and I must say I was impressed, their crunchy corn like texture that softens delightfully in milk and with a flavour that tastes so real and authentic, (no awful artificial tang here), I was eager to see how the Chocolate & Peanut Butter variety fared up..I mean really its a combo made in heaven!

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Consisting of both chocolate & peanut butter flavour corn squares I’m sure this would appeal not only to children but also to adults and health-conscious folk alike who are looking for a cereal that will not only taste good but not make them feel awful about themselves after they’ve enjoyed a bowl! Tasting both squares dry, without milk, the chocolate flavour isn’t too overpowering with just a light cocoa flavour, not too sweet, but not so strong and intense that it’s going to deter from the nutty flavour the peanut butter corn squares were going to offer.

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Tucking into the peanut butter variety it didn’t seem as powerful as it did in the sole Peanut Butter Puffins cereal; nevertheless it was still good, with a delicious natural peanut butter flavour, with a slightly salty sweetened flavour that is so amazingly moreish.

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

So what about the chocolate+peanut butter + milk? Pouring them all into a bowl and topping it with milk it does make for a tasty start for the morning, or for a snack throughout the day; however I wouldn’t say these were AMAZING. They aren’t the nicest Puffins I’ve tried; when eating them together you get a light cocoa/peanut flavour but these aren’t going to satisfy a huge chocolate hit on a morning and because of the lesser amount of Peanut Butter squares compared to the sole variety they don’t provide enough of a peanut butter hit for me either.

Barbara's Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

Now I’m not saying these are awful, they are still tasty; the texture is really good, a nice solid crunch with the the outside softening slightly once left in milk, and a tasty peanut butter chocolate treat left at the bottom of your bowl in the form of cereal milk. And heck..these are Chocolate and Peanut Butter flavour yet have pretty good nutritionals with only 367kcal per 100g! I just wish they’d packed a bit more of a flavour punch. Unfortunately you can’t buy these in the UK but you can pick the up from   iherb.

Barbara’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Puffins

per 100g

367kcal
80g carbs (20g sugars)
6.7g protein
3.3g fat (0g saturates)
10g fibre

Country Life Organics Chococrunchy Amaranth

An organic cereal produced by a Malaysian company, made in Belgium, and brought across the seas to the supermarkets here. I suppose that makes this the very first review of a “local” cereal, eh?

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Country Life Organics is unheard of overseas: a quick search online reveals zero distributors in the USA and the UK, and no reviews as well. I got this from Village Grocer at Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, which is an upmarket place stocking the very best of foreign grocery favourites (the selection is mind-blowing)

http://www.countryfarmorganics.com/cfo/prod.asp?prodid=692&sltcat=7&cat0=1&cat1=2&cat2=125

The product description goes something like this:
Country of Origin : Belgium
Nutritional Benefits :

– Non GMO, free from additives and other flavouring or colouring.
– Extra crunchiness and distinctive chocolaty sensation.
– Luscious clusters of organic amaranth, oat and wheat flakes coated with organic chocolate and cocoa powders.
– Amaranth is well known for its complete protein profile.
– High in fibre and iron.
– Complex carbohydrates give high energy source.”

Clearly targeted at the “sophisticated healthy-eater-expat” here in Kuala Lumpur, since breakfast cereal isn’t the traditional breakfast which locals eat.

Country Life Organics Chococrunchy Amaranth costs RM14 a box (about 3 pounds). For a price comparison, Chocolate Lucky Charms imported from the States cost RM25, while local Nestle cereals are RM10. So I’d say the cereal in front of us, for all that it touts, is pretty good value-for-money.

We’ve got Amaranth and Cocoa Powder, baked into clusters that resemble granola. For 137kcal/cup, with 4.3g of protein, it’s a decent breakfast choice that should appeal to those of us who bother about cereal nutritionals. The fact that Amaranth is an “IN” supergrain adds to the image of the cereal.

The clusters vary in size, like your average box of granola chunks. Large and small chunks make healthy variation, similar to the points mentioned in the Crunchy Nut Clusters review. The cereal dust in Chococrunchy Amaranth was, however, far superior to your usual dust. Individual Amaranth grains coated in Cocoa, form a Chocolate Soup Porridge that’s so fine yet thick, it feels like a custard in your mouth. Imagine this sludge at the bottom of your bowl, with the hefty chunks above, and you’ve got a winner.

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The effect of this dichotomy in texture is enhanced further if you’ve got some other “staple” cereal you mix this with. For example, Special K flakes, or Cheerios go perfectly between the heavy chunks, and the sludgy bottom, to make one heckuva parfait.

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You could make some chocolate soup, or do as i did, breaking the larger chunks to sprinkle over plain yogurt, for an easy, crunchy dessert.

On to taste. I’d expected a half-baked cocoa kick, much like Nestle Koko Crunch that you get in Asia, or cheapo own-brand Cocoa Krispies overseas. Nope. Deep, woodsy, oak cocoa aromas that reminded me of a heavy hot chocolate I’d had in London at a french bakery.

This is very, very good. I wonder at how they achieved this. The ingredients list doesn’t mention anything special, no artificial sweeteners, or Cocoa from Ghana, or fancy-schmancy chocolate from Van Houten. “Cocoa powder” seems as simple as it gets. I wonder if the secret is that the cereal isn’t heavily sweetened? Or perhaps the amaranth grains were so well toasted that they had a nutty earthiness which I have misattributed to the cocoa aromas.

(On second thought, I think it’s a combination of roasted amaranth + cocoa that yields this mature and earthy result)

I’m impressed by this cocoa-authenticity.

So much so that I have been picking at chunks of this cereal, alongside my daily dark chocolate tastings.

A 9/10 on account of cocoa-ness, crunchy-roasted amaranth, and price.

If you’re in Malaysia, go get some.

-The Exercising Male

Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Clusters Milk Chocolate Curls Review

I’m not sure how to classify this one –
a) a typical breakfast cereal? a la breakfast flakes, weetabix, etc.
b) A granola / muesli / toasted grain variant?

Kellogg’s has thrown this dilemma my way, by introducing Crunchy Nut Clusters. Crunchy Nut is your “typical” breakfast flake, with honey-oated flakes, and nuts embedded on them. When you introduce the “clusters” aspect, however, you then get something akin to granola. This granola component is exemplified even further by the addition of rice cripspies to each cluster, and the fact that we have some VERY sizeable chunks, as we shall see below.

Just how sizeable are the chunks? Look at the picture. Varying in sizes, some are HUGE, some are medium, and some are downright minuscule, evidently the “cereal dust” remnants of the clusters. The progression of sizes below may be viewed as inconsistency, on the part of the manufacturers. However, i like to see it as some.. healthy variation.

Healthy variation? You’ve gotta be kidding me, you might think. But think about it; the cereal dust: it forms this… sludge with your milk that’s akin to a sweet porridge. So in the other, texturally, you get porridge-y cereal at the bottom, and crunchy clusters on top.

How cool is that? I think i can confidently say that Kellogg’s hadn’t intended this. But hey? Who knew that “budget manufacturing” could add an additional level of depth to this breakfast?

Crispy, crunchy, etc. No surprises eh?? I was reminded very much of Special K Granola (texture-wise though, taste, you’ll see later). It was actually light, despite “Cluster” bringing Hefty Pieces to mind; and refreshingly crunchy. So crunchy that it was almost like popping candy, as you bit through each chunk. The rice crisps and the flakes were totally discernible. The milk chocolate curls were soft, and melted nicely like a typical Cadbury chocolate would. Mind you these chocolate curls are not some pathetic “mockolate”. Chocolate shavings from a proper chocolate bar! Not that crumbly stuff you get in cheap muesli, not that thin, brittle compound you get in protein bars.

I loved the texture in this cereal. Authentic, to its namesake, and light enough that you don’t feel ENGORGED after eating it, like how one sometimes feels after eating half a bowl of luxury / gourmet granolas.

So there we have it; we have something which has the mouthfeel of Special K granola – light, excellently crispy, but with the creaminess of chocolate added. Does it taste like Special K granola though? Because if it does, then i think many wouldn’t like it.

I am so glad to say that this cereal TASTES like a luxury granola. It is sweet, with the familiar Crunchy Nut honey taste, (which, by the way, is quite a legitimate one). The Rice Crispies were slightly disappointing, and DID taste of Special K granola, with its artificial, plasticky tang that reminds one of apricot.
What i thought was the most amazing taste was the chocolate. As noted above, it was creamy – REAL chocolate shavings – it TASTES like shavings of chocolate too. Imagine having little bits of heaven in every bite of cereal. Bits of heaven which melt AND deliver that sweet-milk-dairy-cocoa that is your typical supermarket milk chocolate. Hey; i’m glad that we’re getting shavings of chocolate here – something even the luxury granolas sometimes fail to deliver.

I’m amazed. I would say this is the best tasting Kellogg’s cereal i’ve had in the past year, sold at the average supermarket cereal price (2 pounds for a 500g box)

One area where there’s a little “tension” is the fact that it’s 460kcal/100g here, so it’s over the usual “400kcal” threshold. It’s calorie-heavy, this one. I guess those ‘milk chocolate curls’ come at a cost then. A pity the UK serving sizes on the nutrition labels don’t tell you the kcal / cup like in the US; but i’d estimate that a 45g serving (205kcal) gives you a 3/4 cup.

Wonderful cereal. Some might say horrendously irregularly-sized chunks – from knuckle-sized all the way to cereal dust pieces. I thought it was a welcome variation that you could get in your bowl. If you’re in the UK, buy this, and try it.

I had this, and bought this on a whim after a long run where i wanted to reward myself. (even though i’d be away from it for 3 months, as i’m returning home for the Summer)

Absolutely no regrets.

-The Exercising Male

Honey Monster Choco Puffs

What is that puffy creature that seems to look like the Sun doing on the front of a box of cereal? Honey Puffs are the UK version of Sugar Smacks, and are, quite simply, sugar-coated wheat puffs.

They’re a bargain here in the UK, where you can get a 400g box for a pound. This means that the Honey Puffs don’t just attract kids, but attract the budget-cereal eater too, for the price point is only slightly higher than the House Brand versions. (In fact I haven’t come across any house brand versions yet)

These are the simplest cereals imaginable: little puffs, hard, crisp with the sugar coating.

As you can see, the puffs are (by my standards and expectations, anyway) fairly large. The size of small pebbles, such that 6 – 8 fit on the average spoon at any one time.

This size also makes them more-ish, if eaten dry and with your fingers ( I found myself quite enjoying this method of eating with Choco Puffs; slow, yet satisfying)

Two characteristics to note:
1) External Crunch
2) Slight, “thin” internal Puff.

The crunch is provided by the cocoa-sugar crust, which was surprisingly well-done, as it was a thin, delicate shell that requires minimal biting to break. I’m particularly impressed here, as with this shell, the Choco Puffs stayed crunchy for a long time – even down to the last quarter of my bowl. A possible comparison could be a Crispy M&M, just dialing down the sugar shell a notch. Not bad for a “budget” cereal, eh?

Now, as for taste, you get what you pay for. As how I usually describe chocolate cereals which don’t appease the chocoholic in me;

“these reminded me of CocoPops / Cocoa Crispies”

It’s a lightly textured cocoa hit , almost like a cocoa-dusting (maybe that’s why the sugar-coating is so delicate). It’s not a “deep” cocoa flavour though; it nips you on your periphery senses, juuuuuuust enough to qualify as a chocolate cereal, given its namesake “Choco Puffs”.

A comparison may help: I found this cereal similar to Chocolate Lucky Charms in its chocolate-y-ness, and if you recall, I had thought this light chocolate hit to work against its favour(https://milkandspoon.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/chocolate-lucky-charms-general-mills/). However, as a fellow blogger commented: some do enjoy this light cocoa taste; having REAL chocolate in your cereal can be achieved by buying chocolate granola, or making your own chocolate muesli – which is clearly not the point when you shop at the cereal aisle in a supermarket.

Nutritionals: 114kcal / 30g (approximately a one cup serving, assuming its the same weight as Sugar Smacks. Here in the UK serving sizes are in weight). A high amount of sugar, like your usual chocolate cereal, yet less calorific owing to the “high-volume= low density” character of puffed grain.

I liked this. I’m flying home to Asia for the Summer, and have half a box to finish by tomorrow. I don’t think that will be a problem.

Stay tuned for some “odd”, off-the-beaten path cereal soon!

(Hopefully: depending on what I get back home)

-The Exercising Male

Weetabix Chocolate

Ok, so two of my favourite foods : chocolate and cereal, yet it seems to be that so many cereal manufacturers often miss the mark when combining the two, I don’t feel that there are actually many particularly good chocolate cereals lurking out there, chocolate chunks with granola, yeh great, but when actually making the cereal chocolate flavour there’s a fine line between good and utter disappointment.

I love regular Weetabix..I love chocolate, I actually really like their regular Minibix with chocolate chips, so what could really go wrong by making the actual “biscuit” chocolate flavour, well unfortunately a lot I think. I guess this cereal is probably aimed at children, the smiling wheat crop on the front peering over the top of the two big chocolate Weetabixes ready to gobble them all up, and  with half the amount of sugar compared to other chocolate cereals on the market, this is meant to be a cereal that children will want and that adults won’t mind buying, due to the “healthier” nature of it. I mean at 346kcal, 15.9g sugar and 10.5g fibre per 100g, it’s actually got some pretty good nutritionals for a chocolate based cereal..if only it tasted as nice.

Weetabix Chocolate

My go to way to eat Weetabix, always warm, always made into a thick substantial paste, so that’s exactly what I did. As the ding of the microwave sounded a very strong sort of malty cocoa flavour wafted around the room from the cooked breakfast substance, dipping my spoon into it I have to say that it is no where near as satisfying as regular Weetabix, the cocoa flavour and the melted dark chocolate chips seem to create an odd contrast to the classic malted Weetabix flavour, it all just tastes a bit odd..not particularly chocolatey but not as malted and warming as regular Weetabix.

Weetabix Chocolate

So I tried it another few ways, I tried it warm, but this time, not mushing it up, so the chocolate chips were slightly melted, but stayed intact, this is even worse..you sort of end up with a pile of mushy cocoa flavour wheat mess, and the milk, although turning slightly chocolate coloured/flavour, doesn’t have a particularly delicious flavour to it. Certainly not that sweet delicious chocolate cereal milk that kids may be used to from the likes of Coco Pops etc.

Weetabix Chocolate

I know, I know, a lot of you eat your Weetabix cold, so what is it like that? Again, not great, not really sweet, not really savoury, it tastes of well..a bland cocoa cereal concoction really, certainly not something a child would particularly want for breakfast..you’re probably better buying them the regular Weetabix..which is not only healthier..but also tastes a hell of a lot better, as they’re certainly not gonna get their chocolate hit from this!

I find that the only way that this Weetabix Chocolate could be salvaged was to actually mix it with 1 regular Weetabix : 2 chocolate, 1 regular, a couple of sweeteners, some milk, pop it in the microwave. Hey presto..its edible! With the addition of the extra regular Weetabix it enhances the savoury malt aspect with just a slight twang of deeper chocolate flavours, making it..slightly more edible and enjoyable than it is on its own..but when you’ve gotta add extras to your cereal to make it good..well then the base product can’t be all that can it!

Chocolate Lucky Charms – General Mills

This post should ruffle some feathers.

(Note – this is a “British / UK blog” perspective on an American cereal)

In the numerous debates of which Chocolate Breakfast Cereal reigns supreme, the likes of Chocolate Chex, Chocolate Lucky Charms, Chocolate Frosties, Chocolate Cheerios, Cocopops, Kokoa Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, and Count Chocula have been named. Note that I have only named cereals which have some potential of colouring your milk: “healthy” variants like Special K don’t count, since the remnants of chocolate in that one hardly qualify.

Chocolate Lucky Charms aren’t available in the UK. You can get them from American Soda, with relatively cheap shipping too, since they don’t charge some GBP5 flat rate like most online grocers do.

Attack of the elves. It doesn’t get much better than that. The box art consists of this creature munching on a HUGE bowl of cereal. Does this attract kids? I have absolutely no idea. It actually seems almost nightmarish, akin to a massive Clown attack (many of us have a secret clown phobia that lies deep within us.)

Chocolate cereal with dehydrated marshmallows. Not much deviation from typical Lucky Charms here – I suppose there isn’t any reason for changing a successful formula that’s lasted through the decades.

Curious shapes. Another manufacturing masterpiece – akin to the Cascadian Farm Clifford Crunch shapes which had holes in them. Wait a minute – these two cereals don’t merely resemble each other in aesthetic complexity:  they DO have similar shapes. That’s odd. The only difference being their colour – one is massively cocoa-stained.

Size is similar too, so I need not delve into that.

The key difference in Chocolate Lucky Charms is the heavy-handed addition of dehydrated marshmallows. These are similar to the ones in the conventional Lucky Charms, multi-coloured little tykes. You can see that there really ARE quite a lot of marshmallows in this cereal. The producers aren’t deceptive producers like Kellogg’s who add minuscule chocolate pieces to Special K Chocolate. The only way to explain this, would be through a picture.

Texture – ooh. I’d expected threethings:
1) Typical chocolate / cocopops crunch
2) Some crispy, then puffy bites of marshmallow
3) Cereal gets mushy like any typical Cocoa Puff out there.

Guess what? My expectations were met.

There’s nothing SPECIAL about this one. Mediocre crunch, expected marshmallow texture, expected duration-to-mushy-ness. Note how I don’t say I was “disappointed” here. I had expected this.

Maybe the good part of this cereal is something I will never understand. I think it’s the NOSTALGIA evoked when one chews on the marshmallow; the yield of the crispy crunch to the “dissolving puff” of it, that I can’t associate with, having never eaten this cereal in my childhood.

Texture – PLAIN, with some surprise through the marshmallows.

Oh yes – a note on the cereal milk produced. This one stains your milk. A nice brown – like your horribly sweet Cocoa Krispies. Not just physically – but you can detect that faint chocolate taste in the milk as well, though not as apparently as those in Cocopops / Krispies. Some would say this alone makes Chocolate Lucky Charms worthwhile as a chocolate cereal. I don’t think so. That’s just one aspect of the following.

Now: the deciding factor in most battles of the “Chocolate Breakfast Cereal” kind, which many so-called cereals have lost: Does Chocolate Lucky Charms confer the chocolate hit that so many of us crave?



Nope. Sad to say. To me, it fails to. Why?

On biting into this, there was a vague familiarity in the cereal. As the trapdoors of cereal memories opened in my mind, with tastes of previously-had breakfast cereals revealing themselves, I realized these tasted of Cocoa Krispies. Plain, simple, low-cocoa content sweetness. I had expected so much more – taste-wise – of the famed Chocolate Lucky Charms which theimpulsivebuy, Grubgrade, and others had spoken of. The chocolate-y flavour was there: it was just too simple.

Of course, you could say that I’m being an ass for expecting so much. After all, this is a kids’ cereal we’re talking about here. Not some artisan chocolate product.

“You buy these off the shelves, for crying out loud.”

My rebuttal: Yeah, but if Reese’s Puffs, Cap’n Crunch, and Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins can give me that rich, dense PB hit, why can’t this? If some granolas can give me a decent cocoa hit, why can’t this?

Chocolate aside, the marshmallows were fabulous. Lightly sweetened to match its light texture, a dissipating, fine sugar-compound that is more complex than you think, as if it was “packable cake icing”. Phew. I see why people can succeed on creating businesses around the sole purpose of selling these cereal marshmallows. Cereal marshmallows are incredibly versatile, and match any breakfast cereal base.

Nutritionals:  120 kcal for a 3/4 cup. Not bad – similar to your range of chocolate breakfast cereals out there (pretty close to Chocolate Cheerios too). So this cereal doesn’t score particularly highly on this point.

Plain-jane chocolate cereal with some fancy-schmancy, yet time-tested marshmallows to add a crispy-puffy bite. I wouldn’t pick this over Cocopops for chocolate-y-ness, but I would pick it over the rest for it’s marshmallows.

UK readers: pop by American Soda, to get some!

-The Exercising Male

Fuel Chocolate Chunks Granola

In a society where a large majority of people seem to live off energy drinks to get through the day I’m surprised it’s taken so long for a specific “energy” breakfast cereal to be launched in major supermarkets; many people need a cup of coffee and a bowl of something tasty to kick start their day so why not combine the two and create a stimulation cereal, apparently meant to “fuel our 10k hours”, the amount of hours of work that need to be put in to become an elite in our chosen field. I do remember reading about Fuel quite some time ago but recently they have had a packaging overhaul complete with a more intense serious edge, complete with an intense looking eye on the front, focused and alert…hopefully how we are meant to feel after munching our way through a bowl full of this!

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

Fuel comes in 3 different varieties : fruit, nut & chocolate…naturally I went for the chocolate one first and decided that I would try it for  breakfast before an extremely intense spinning class to see if it energised me through that, and throughout the day. Enriched with added Guarana and B vitamins,  there is an assortment of chocolate and crunchy caramel granola clusters, big huge chunks of 70% dark chocolate and pumpkin seeds lurking inside the packet.

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

I am glad to say that this is not a flimsy meek and mild granola..this is the proper stuff, huge..and I mean huge oaty clusters! Something that you can really get your teeth into and it doesn’t feel like you are eating a bowl of dust! To complete this the 70% dark chocolate chunks are equally as big, these are not little flimsy “chocolate chips”, and there is a huge amount of them distributed throughout the packet..don’t fear you don’t have to go hunting/shaking the packet to make sure you get a chocolate chunk in each bowl. You get at least 10!

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

The only problem with the chunks being so big is that this cereal is pretty heavy, so although it may look like you barely have anything in your bowl you’ve actually weighed yourself a 100g serving of this cereal, and when it packs a higher calorie punch, as this cereal does, around 460kcal per 100g, if you’re watching your waistline you may want to be careful how much you serve. However with me feeling that I needed to be energised for my morning spin this wasn’t a problem…and now to the real question..yes, yes, this tastes like a really good granola..but its meant to be an ENERGY granola. Did it do its job?

Fuel Chocolate Chunk Granola

To be honest yes, I felt energised, alert and alive throughout all of my spinning class and it kept me going til at least 2pm, normally after a spinning class I’m starving by about 12 o clock, and the best thing, I felt satisfied that I’d had such a tasty amazing breakfast! Its big, chunky, satisfying, chocolate loaded and the best part..the milk turns amazingly chocolatey! What with not only the chocolate granola clusters, but also the addition of the huge chocolate chunks you are left with such a delightful treat once you’ve finished your bowl of cereal.

At £3.69 a box it’s priced alongside other granola cereals but I picked mine up on special for £2..which is amazing value..and considering you’d pay around £1.30 for 1 can of energy drink its so much better value as not only does it give you your energy hit but it tastes amazingg!