Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Post Honey Bunches of Oats - Greek Honey Crunch

I'm still working to review some of the many new cereals introduced earlier this year. While my intent is not to review every new cereal that comes out, some are noteworthy and deserve the attention. Such is the case with the new Greek yogurt flavored Honey Bunches of Oats. Honey Bunches of Oats has become Post's leading cereal franchise, now with 12 flavors. What makes this one stand out above the others is the way that the company is taking advantage of a current food fad, Greek yogurt, and capitalizing on it. The marketing for the cereal has been fairly heavy.

This is not the first cereal made with yogurt, but the first major brand utilizing the high-protein, low-sugar dairy Greek type. Additionally, this variety is comprised of two granolas made with real Greek yogurt, whole grain flakes and honey. So, how does it stack up as a breakfast cereal?

Let's start with taste. I believe that a big reason for Post's success with the Honey Bunches of Oats brand is the creative combination of ingredients that are big on flavor. This latest variety is no exception. Apart from the more standard ingredients like granola and flakes, the yogurt clusters do add a bright flavor to the mix when you bite into them. Along with the slight sweetness, it makes for a tasty breakfast. So far, in my opinion, it's the best tasting new cereal of the year.

Medley cereals can be a challenge when it comes to texture. While variety in the mouth can bring about a kaleidoscope of sensations, once exposed to milk things can go awry quickly, as is the case with Cheerios new medley. Greek Honey Crunch balances it all quite well. The cereal is easy to eat out of the box, and even after soaking for 5-10 minutes it is still worth eating, although the flakes start moving toward the end of their life.

Marketing has contributed to this being perceived as a unique, healthy cereal. Even the stylized lettering (which is barely Greek) on the box contributes to the experience that consumers will have as they chow down. Combined with the solid taste and texture, the overall experience is very positive.

Post is definitely emphasizing the nutritious values of Honey Bunches of Oats in general, and this Greek yogurt version in particular. The claims here are on 5g of protein and 33g of whole grains per serving. Not bad, but all is not perfect. First, I am surprised considering the high protein qualities of Greek yogurt that the numbers are not higher. Also, fat (3.5g) and sugar (22% of weight) contents are little higher than what I would desire in a highly nutritious cereal. Nevertheless, you really can't go too wrong offering this to your family.

As you can tell from the individual categories and ratings this is a well-crafted cereal and one that deserves the attention it is getting. My only question is whether it will be able to sustain popularity once people move onto the next health food fad. Nevertheless, it will contribute to the overall popularity and strength of Honey Bunches of Oats. That has to be good news for Post, which seems to be getting it together in recent years.

(Review protocol HERE)

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cereal alternatives: Breakfast Drinks?

The focus of this blog is cereal, but there is no doubt that cereal has inspired several new food trends over the years as our society has changed. Most notable in recent years have been cereal bars, the ultimate in convenience. While food bars of all types have become mainstream, traditional breakfast cereal has not been usurped, but it does indicate that cereal manufacturers have new competition, even if many have themselves entered intro the fray.

Now for the latest quest for the cereal alternative: breakfast drinks. And, this is coming from two of the biggest names in cereal, Kellogg and General Mills.

Liquid breakfasts are not new. Almost 50 years ago Carnation introduced its Instant Breakfast (now known as Carnation Breakfast Essentials), and within the last decade a few companies, including General Mills and Kellogg, were experimenting with cereal beverages. And, of course, there are all kinds of meal replacement drinks already available, most of them targeted at dieters.

But with the two big boys going after this again, maybe Carnation's original vision might itself become truly mainstream. With some people too busy even to get out their bowl and milk, with fresh marketing this could catch on to a greater degree.

Kellogg's entry into the market is with Breakfast to Go shakes. General Mills has announced BFast shakes. These are milk-based drinks, but with higher levels of protein, fiber, and other nutrients.

It's probably too early to tell how successful this latest attempt at breakfast drinks will be. Nonetheless, it will be an interesting development to watch, and taste.

(Sources: Huffington Post, and brandchannel)

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Review: Post Grape-Nuts Fit

At first glance doing a review of a Grape-Nuts cereal sounds boring. How else could you describe a cereal that's not only been around for over 100 years, but in its original form comes close to ground gravel. Besides, it has the image of being the choice of health nuts (no pun intended). How much fun does all that sound?

What got my attention, however, was the newest version of Grape-Nuts, the first in decades: new Fit. Post has been up-dating their cereal lines since going independent, and has done some creative work. Even the stalwart Grape-Nuts has had a packaging facelift, and now a new variety to add to the brand. New Fit "fits" into the health orientation of the brand, and is promoted as "power-packed nutrition for your everyday adventure" and targeted to an active, younger customer. Fit comes in a unique cranberry vanilla flavor, and I'm sure that if it goes over well other varieties might be introduced as well.

One of the notorious facts about Grape-Nuts is that it contains neither grapes or nuts. The original formula was mainly made from wheat and barley. New Fit contains these same staple ingredients, but is expanded with such things as dried cranberries, oats and natural vanilla flavor. Overall, the range of flavors in these constituents makes for an interesting taste sensation, all without being sweet. It's not a taste knock-out, but it provides a pleasant palate experience that goes beyond the ordinary common in most cereals.

Fit is a medley, and one advantage of such mixes is that they can provide a variety of texture experiences. Fit contains crunchy nuggets of wheat, oat granola, puffed barley and dried cranberries. It holds together even in milk, although puffs tend to become slightly gummy. Also, I noticed that at the bottom of the bag the cereal broke down into crumbs much more than normal, so the last few bowls might end up somewhat disappointing.

Admittedly, eating healthy cereals doesn't have the same excitement as a highly-sweetened kids' cereal. Nevertheless, for their target audience Fit makes for an emotionally satisfying breakfast. There is no guilt, and you feel that this could actually boost your ability to stay active. You can't go wrong with that.

Fit lives up to its reputation as a healthy cereal. It has 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, a reasonable amount of sugar (only 16% of total weight), and a range of vitamins and minerals, including 50% of the Daily Value for folic acid. It also boasts 90% of the DV for iron, but this might be a little high, especially for men who are encouraged not to consume excess iron as they get older. Nevertheless, this is overall a nutritionally solid cereal.

As I commented in an earlier blog post, the target of new Grape-Nuts Fit is somewhat similar to Wheaties Fuel. Although less macho, it is directed at active people who want to look and feel great. In many ways, I prefer Fit over Wheaties Fuel. The latter is too sweet and doesn't have near the protein, so Fit might be a more sincere option for those who really want a breakfast of champions that they can also enjoy. 

(Review protocol HERE)