Since I have gotten to college cereal has become a daily presence in my diet. There have been many 3am moments sitting on the floor of my dorm room eating bowls of Lucky Charms with friends after a night full of dancing and drinking.
Cereal has not only become my favorite midnight meal but it is also my go-to snack when I'm on the run. I've made it a habit of filling a ziplock with Honey Bunches of Oats before my 8am classes and eating it during my walk across campus.
Recently as I walked through the breakfast aisle of Walmart I realized that the cereal I was buying was two to three dollars more expensive than the generic cereal sitting next to it. So is the few extra bucks worth a recognizable name? 15 minutes, 28 dollars, 4 gallons of milk, and 8 boxes of cereal later I was rounding up friends to test my theory.
Here's a Rundown of my Experiment..
Getting people to eat cereal blindfolded was the easy part. Standing in the cereal aisle deciding which ones to test was the hard part. After a lot of staring and swapping, I finally decided on four pairs of cereals.
1. Apple Jacks vs. Apple Blasts
2. Honey Bunches of Oats vs. Almond Crunchy Honey Oats
3. Lucky Charms vs. Magic Treasures
4. Cinnamon Life vs. Cinnamon Crunchy Oat Squares
Although I am not going to go into detail of each cereal, I decided to round up some of the most important things we learned from two hours of blindly eating cereals...
Naming is Not Walmart's Best Quality
I definitely got some dirty looks in the cereal aisle laughing to myself about the little creativity that went into naming these off-brand cereals. They were more of a description than a name really, Almond Crunchy Honey Oats being my favorite of them all. Cinnamon Crunchy Oat Squares was a definite close runner up.
Texture is Everything
One of the top hints to the guessing game of which cereal was the real one was the texture. The initial crunch, or lack there of, was a dead give away. Aspects like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms and the granola in Honey Bunches of Oats could just not be replicated.
Some types of cereal just don't hold up when milk is added in. Although all cereals get mushy after a while of sitting in milk, we found in our studies that the fakers definitely got soft more quickly than the others. Great Value's version of Cinnamon Life was guilty of sogginess.
You Can't Fake Memories
You can't fake the taste of childhood and some cereals just take us back to when we were kids. There is nothing like the taste of Lucky Charms, Trix, Coco Puffs,or Apple Jacks and it is easily recognizable when you grew up eating them. Great Value just didn't have the good ol' taste we know and love.
Stick with the Original
If you don't mind spending an extra buck or two, I recommend sticking with the name brand stuff. There is just nothing like the taste and texture of the real deal. We could tell the difference and I bet you could too.
Take Meredith's fun quiz to find out which kind of knock off cereal your personality matches up with!