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Taste test: new cereals

While serving our school kids a hot and healthy breakfast is an admirable goal, many of us are hard pressed just to get them dressed and out the door before the bell rings. So, we often turn to cold cereal. That's what makes this the perfect season for makers to roll out new offerings, colorfully packaged in attractive and enticing boxes. We passed up some of the new chocolate-flavored cereals, opting instead to sample four options that purported to have some nutritional significance. For this task, we enlisted the palates of the fifth-grade teaching team at Pasadena Fundamental Elementary School in St. Petersburg. All cereals were tasted dry.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductJif Cinnamon Jacks Cheerios Protein Mini-Wheats Touch of Fruit in the Middle

Kellogg's says its Jif cereal is made with real peanut butter but judges said it lacked peanut butter taste. The cereal is shaped in little squares with holes in the center. Judges were drawn to the cereal by its strong peanut butter smell and a first crunchy bite of abundant peanut butter flavor but found the flavor quickly disintegrated in their mouths, even when tasting the cereal dry. "The flavor doesn't last," said one judge. "It's nice and crunchy at first, but gets soggy really fast," said another teacher. "My son loves peanut butter but he wouldn't eat this because the flavor doesn't linger," said one panelist. All of the teachers said they detected an unpleasant, non-peanut butter-like aftertaste.The bright pink and orange flowerlike shapes of these cereal bits reminded one teacher of the wallpaper in her bedroom in the 1970s. "I love the flower power in these shapes," she said. The judges enjoyed the strong cinnamon taste and the large pieces of cereal. "I'd love the bold colors early in the morning," said one teacher. "I wouldn't have any of this cereal left in the bottom of the bowl." A couple said the cereal was a bit too sweet for breakfast. "I would eat these right out of the box as a snack though," one teacher said.The latest offering from Cheerios, aimed at protein-craving consumers, was a hit with our panel. The sweetness of the Cheerios was well balanced by the added granola in the mix. "I like the multicolored Cheerios and the great honey flavor," said one panelist. She also liked the crunchy texture of the Cheerios and the granola. "The caramel color is pleasant looking," said another teacher. "I really liked this," said another judge. "The combination of the shapes, the different colors and the sweet aftertaste makes for a great flavor."One teacher said she eats the plain version of this cereal every morning. The latest offering has fruit inside the wheat pillows. We sampled a new variety with raisins. "I like the large shapes of these," said one teacher. "It's got lots of frosting, which I also like." The same judge said the cereal had the perfect balance of raisins. A couple of judges said they like traditional Mini-Wheats and raisins, but didn't care for the combination. "It's nice and crunchy though," added one teacher, who said she wouldn't buy the cereal, but liked it enough to finish her sample.

they buy?
None of the five judges said yes.Three of the five judges said yes.Four of the five judges said yes.One of the five judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.93 for a 9.1-ounce box from Walmart.$3.55 for a 10.7-ounce box from Publix.$2.99 for a 14.1-ounce box from Target.$3.45 for a 15-ounce box from Walmart.

Panelists: Teachers Kim Thompson, Denise Dawson, Heather Riddle and Tami Gower and intern Natalie Cresta.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeThree-fourths cupOne cupOne and one-fourth cup24 pieces
Fat/Fiber2g / 2g2g / 3g3g / 4g1g / 6g
Sugars/Sodium10g / 170mg10g / 125mg17g / 280mg10g / 0mg
Carbs/Protein21g / 2g24g / 2g21g / 7g46g / 5g

Taste test: new cereals 08/25/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 25, 2014 3:09pm]
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