Folks, there’s a war on our beloved holiday. Tinpot dict-haters are rising up and demanding we, the faithful, hate what they hate, despise what they despise. They’ll use subjective things like “science” and “facts” to point out that our great holiday love isn’t real, that it’s all artificial nonsense put forward by marketing execs looking to make a buck off the suckers. They sit upon their thrones of lies and slander and spew forth so much vitriol it’s hard to keep the faith. The faith…
…in pumpkin spice.
Well, true believers, I’m here to bring you the good word. Despite the hate, despite the armpit noises from those who thumb their noses and say, “Nyah, pumpkin spice isn’t even really pumpkin, nyah, so you shouldn’t enjoy it, nyah,” I am here to tell you the pumpkin spice spirit is here to stay if you’re just willing to believe in its goodness, its rightness with the universe. Not only is pumpkin spice alive and well in our hearts, but it’s in the stores on the shelves, in the cappuccino dispensers at your gas station that probably haven’t been rinsed out and properly washed in five years, in your drive-throughs along with a coked-out Charlie Sheen or an irate Jim Cornette (go look it up).
We’re not here today to bash our pumpkin spice hating brothers and sisters, though. The Great Pumpkin Spice loves us all, regardless of if we have good taste or not. Instead, I’m here to tell you about the 2018 Pumpkin Spice Cereal Extravaganza, in which I detail for you – yes, you! – just what the best pumpkin spice cereal is from the three I found at the grocery store.
PUMPKIN SPICE FROSTED FLAKES
We’re going to start things off with a winner. I don’t particularly dislike any type of cereal, but there are a great many I’m largely ambivalent towards, and Frosted Flakes is usually one of them. I’m certainly happy to have it if it’s on sale or it’s what there is, but I don’t particularly go out of my way to buy it.
Pumpkin Spice Frosted Flakes are probably the strangest of the bunch, in that up front, it doesn’t have a distinct flavor at all. There’s a bit of cinnamon, but mostly it just tastes sweet. It takes a second for the pumpkin spice flavor to really hit, but when it does, it’s pretty fantastic. It’s neither as overbearingly strong as the Cheerios we’ll talk about in a minute or as understated as the Frosted Shredded Wheat. Of the three, the pumpkin spice flavor is probably the best in this one, though I do think the initial sugary taste can come off as a bit strong.
So is it good? Hell yes. And it makes the milk even better, so that’s a bonus. Also great? The smell when you first open the box. It’s sort of a musty nutmeg smell and it’s fantastic.
PUMPKIN SPICE CHEERIOS
Of the three I tested, I’m probably down on these the most. I’d rank the other two as great, but Pumpkin Spice Cheerios are mostly okay, and that’s thanks to an almost overbearing amount of cloves and a strange lack of blending of flavors.
It’s immediately apparent when you bite into these that they didn’t change the formula too much from pre-existing Cheerios and pretty much just tossed on the pumpkin spices as an afterthought. These still very much taste like Honey Nut Cheerios at their core, but now have been dusted in cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice. None of it comes together very well until it’s had a chance to soak in milk a bit, but when it does, it works.
Along that same line, the milk it leaves behind is definitely the best of the bunch and it makes me wonder if we aren’t far off from pumpkin spice milk being a thing on shelves. I’ve seen it in egg nog form, so why not?
PUMPKIN SPICE FROSTED SHREDDED WHEAT
These were my favorite of the bunch. Both the other cereals were, by nature, based on already sweet cereals, and didn’t try to curb that in favor of the pumpkin spice, leaving some awkward mixing of flavors and overbearing sugars. Frosted Shredded Wheat has the advantage in that it’s normally a very subdued sweetness – sure, there’s sugar there, but it’s not as up front as Frosted Flakes or Honey Nut Cheerios.
Plus, the shredded wheat benefits from a certain understatement to its pumpkin spice. It doesn’t try to throw the spices in your face. Of all three, it seems to recognize that too much of a good thing is a hindrance, not a boon, and instead it goes for a classier taste. It’s the one that tastes the least like traditional pumpkin spice flavors, but in this case, that plays to the strengths of the cereal itself.
So there you have it. In the great Pumpkin Spice Cereal Wars of ’18, Frosted Shredded Wheat is your winner. I should also note that Wal-Mart’s pumpkin cream muffins are fantastic. That’s probably been my favorite pumpkin spice purchase of the year. The price doesn’t hurt either – you can get two for $2.50.
Thanks for reading, and have a happy, fun Halloween, everyone.