Five Best Chocolate Cereals: Cocoa Puffs to Cocoa Krispies
All photos by Lee Klein
Jean-Paul Sartre once famously said there are just two types of people in this world: those who like Cocoa Puffs, and those who prefer Cocoa Krispies. Or maybe it was Seinfeld who said it. Either way, the world keeps evolving, and, lo and behold, there are now other cocoa-flavored breakfast cereals on the market such as Chocolate Cheerios and Chocolate Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites and Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate O's, and Kellogg's Krave. We left the last off our list because it's chocolate-filled rather than straight chocolate. Plus the lettering on the box is scary.
So our idea is a taste test to determine not only the objective truth behind whether Krispies or Puffs is the superior chocolate cereal, but also how all five stack up by comparison. The process was kept simple: A bowl of each was sampled in tandem with cold, whole milk. Characteristics to be judged were taste, chocolatey-ness, and crunchiness -- along with more subtle attributes recognizable only to true chocolate cereal experts and connoisseurs. Like nutritional benefits, how resistant to sogginess the cereal is, and which one leaves behind the best chocolate milk.
The results may prove a bit shocking to some readers -- meaning those with sensibilities frail enough to be shocked by cereal taste tests. What surprised us is that after eating five bowls of cereal we didn't feel all that bad. At least not for awhile.
5. Cascadian Farm Organic Chocolate O's
First of all, what the hell kind of a health food nut wants to start their day by eating chocolate cereal? That might make sense to a Jew-for-Jesus or Log Cabin Republican, but for everyone else it just seems counter-intuitive. As for the cereal, it's not bad -- crunchy, grainy, a bit like Cheerios. But it has little to do with chocolate. Cocoa is the eighth ingredient listed, which is the furthest back of any of our quintet. Plus it has sugar as the second ingredient, contains caramel color and something called "mixed tocopherosis," and it isn't any lower in sodium than the others, either. All of which, regardless of the ingredients being organic, makes the sacrifice in sweet chocolate flavor seem meaningless. $3.99 for 11.25 ounces.
4. Kellogg's Chocolate Frosted Mini-Wheats Little Bites
Although semisweet chocolate is listed as the third ingredient, the cocoa punch is weak; these taste like regular Frosted Mini-Wheats with a mild flavor of chocolate cake batter. These turn soggy pretty quickly, and soak up every bit of milk in the bowl as quickly as a cat -- leaving chocolate mush. It also contains 190 calories per serving, which is 40 more than the second highest (Cocoa Krispies is second with 120 calories; the rest are 100 each). $4.51 for 15.8 ounces.
3. General Mills Chocolate Cheerios
A bite into these Cheerios provides the loudest crackle of the group -- sounds a bit like the Blue Man Group's amplified Captain Crunch performance when you eat them. It resisted sogginess for the second longest amount of time, too, and the chocolate rings had a nice Cocoa Puffs-like flavor. Unfortunately, only half the rings are chocolate, the other half just a dark grain, so the overall effect of both in the mouth is greatly diluted. This is a case of trying to have it both ways -- chocolatey and grainy -- and achieving neither because of the compromise. Points also removed for it being the only one of the five cereals not to offer the kiddies a puzzle or game on the back of the box, using it instead for more self-promotion. $4.59 for 11.25 ounces (the most expensive per ounce).
2. Kellogg's Cocoa Krispies
It snap, crackles and pops with its' mild but distinctive cocoa flavor. The soft but crunchy texture starts off as alluring as any other, but turns into soggy mush much faster than the rest -- within a couple of minutes. The chocolate milk it leaves behind is very tasty -- like Nestlé Quick! All in all the second tastiest of the cereals. $4.37 for 16.5 ounces.
1. General Mills Cocoa Puffs
I had never tasted Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs side by side before. I was surprised at just how much more of a chocolate punch the latter packed, and how much better it felt in the mouth while munching away. These dark, dark little spheres (artificial color helps; Cheerios is the other brand to use brown color enhancers) are really far tastier than the other four. One might quibble over the fact that Cocoa Puffs relies more on corn syrup, fructose, and artificial flavor to achieve the great flavor, but the final nutritional numbers read no different than the rest. The chocolate milk left in the bowl is best too -- closer to Hershey's than Nestlé. $3.69 for 11.8 ounces.
So there you have it: One less thing in life to worry about. Now you know that Cocoa Puffs is better than Cocoa Krispies, and is indeed the best of the chocolate breakfast cereals.
Roll over Sartre and tell Seinfeld the news.
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