Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: General Mills' Tiny Toast

As I've pointed out before, this blog is not focused on cereal reviews, but the industry and phenomenon of breakfast cereal. Nevertheless, every once in a while a particular cereal comes across my breakfast table that is of such significance that it deserves a careful look and taste test.

The new Tiny Toast cereals from General Mills provide a perfect occasion to grab a bowl (or two, in this case) to provide my impressions of what they bill as their "first new cereal brand in 15 years," an over-hyped claim in my opinion. These received much attention when released a couple of months ago, and General Mills is hoping that they will generate some of the same kind of excitement that some of their other "toast" cereals enjoy, namely Cinnamon Toast Crunch and French Toast Crunch.

Tiny Toast comes in two flavors, blueberry and strawberry, and both will be considered in this one review.

So, how do these new cereals actually taste? In short, pretty good. With the increasing commitment of General Mills (and other companies) to use only natural flavors, newer cereals are much more pleasant and muted, than the blasts of flavors that come from artificial ingredients (let alone the powerful whiff of chemical scents that erupt from the bags of newly open cereals with artificial flavors). The blueberry and strawberry flavors here are evident, although I like the strawberry better. Blueberry Tiny Toasts actually bordered on lacking in taste.

An obvious distinguishing point of this brand are the tiny little toast pieces, and they are pleasant to consume - light, and only mildly crunchy out of the box. In other words, they go down easy, but have substance. They also hold their own in milk, although after ten minutes they start to get a little gummy.

Breakfast cereal is about so much more than just the cereal itself, and with Tiny Toast General Mills has created a brand with some personality and that is tied in with their previous toast varieties. Just the idea of eating tiny toasts is fun, and the cartoonish look of the box and logo contribute to that impression. But, despite the design and "Match the Hashtag" game on the back, this cereal is not intended just for children. The pictures and statements on the front that these contain real fruit, remind everyone that these are somewhat serious eats too.

If this is somewhat serious, then what about the nutritional qualities of Tiny Toast. Despite the claims of natural flavor, natural colors, fortified vitamins and minerals, and "First ingredient: whole grain," these cereals are nutritionally meh. There is only 2g of protein, and 1g of fiber, and the percentage of sugar by weight is over 30%. Not that I was expecting more, but don't be fooled - this is not for those looking for a nutritional powerhouse.

Overall, even with the fanfare, Tiny Toasts are an interesting addition to the General Mills lineup, and in the short-term should garner consumer attention; but I really do not see anything special here. They have something to offer as an experience, but in a year or two will likely follow the fate of many new cereals that have come and gone over the years. By all means, try them for yourself, and let me know if they become a favorite of yours, or just a little occasional variety for your morning breakfast bowl.

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