Sunday, August 28, 2011

Malt-O-Meal's Honey & Oat Blenders (Various)


A quiet, unassuming box of Malt-O-Meal's Honey & Oat Blenders
Well the purpose of this blog was to focus more on the private label brands within dollar stores and discount grocers.  With that in mind, I’ll admit that I’m bending the rules a little bit, because Malt-O-Meal, while definitely a small-ish brand, is just about everywhere.  It’s in drug stores, convenience stores, supermarkets, dollar stores, and stores that deal in closeouts (Big Lots, I’m lookin’ at you).  It’s also the fifth largest cereal manufacturer in the United States, and was even involved in a movie campaign for The Simpson’s Movie, where they rebranded one of their cereal’s as Krusty-O’s.  So yeah, maybe including this is a bit of a stretch.

But let’s not forget that Malt-O-Meal cereals can be a great buy, and in the end that‘s the main thing this blog is about:  value.  In fact, I’ve long held that it was my favorite cereal brand, because of its almost exacting flavors mixed with its low prices.  They are also the main purveyor of the cereal bag, having acquired that business from Quaker way back in 2002.  And who can’t appreciate getting a ridiculously, unnecessarily large bag of cereal for roughly the price of one box of the national brands?

With that in mind, I present to you Honey and Oat Blenders, the company’s version of Honey Bunches of Oats.  If you’ve been to this site before, or even spent a couple seconds perusing my previous reviews, you may have noticed that I’ve already reviewed Aldi’s Millville brand (Honey Crunch ‘n Oats), and gave it a perfect score.  That brand’s lightly sweetened corn flakes, mixed with the strong, delicious flavor of the honey clusters makes it an absolute winner in my book.  So how do the Blenders fare?  Let’s take a look.

The first thing I did notice is the smell.  There is no doubt in one’s mind that there is honey in that box.  And lots of it.  In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s actually any cereal in there.  In other words, it’s pretty strong.  This is in sharp contrast to Millville’s Oats, which may have a faint honey smell, but otherwise just smell like corn flakes. 

The second thing Blenders have going for it is the color:  Whereas Millville features some pale, colorless corn flakes in a supporting role, Malt-O-Meal’s flakes are bright and colorful.  They just look like they’re covered in honey, and that is definitely an inviting thing, as far as a honey cereal is concerned.  Speaking of which, my only concern is:  Where are all the clusters?  The flakes are so big that the clusters seem to be non-existent.  Right now, Honey Bunches of Flakes seems to be a more accurate title.  Millville’s version has some big, delicious, inviting clusters hidden among the small, sad-looking (but perfectly sweetened) flakes.

Enough about the descriptors…now it’s time for the part that matters most.  Taste.  I dig in to my bowl of Honey and Oat Blenders…and am smashed in the face by the strong taste of honey.  These flakes seem to be triple-dipped in the stuff!  Not bad, not bad at all.  Next bite…honey.  And the next…honey.  Where are all the clusters?  Oh, there’s one.  Hmmm….tastes like honey.  And that right there is this cereal’s main problem:  Every bite tastes pretty much the same.  In fact, I couldn’t even detect a change in flavor whenever I hit one of the oat clusters, which is usually my favorite part of the entire cereal.  Again, this is in sharp contrast to Aldi’s offering, which feature lightly sweetened corn flakes that are a perfect contrast to the sudden flavor explosion of the oat clusters.

Now, this isn’t to say that Malt-O-Meal’s cereal is a failure.  If you have kids, they will probably prefer this.  If you really, really like the taste of honey, you will definitely prefer this.  And let’s not forget, like all of Malt-O-Meal’s offerings, the price is really, really good.  I paid $1.99 for the box, which isn’t much more than what I would pay for Aldi’s version…and I bought the Blenders from a drugstore.  But in the end, while the Blenders are a good bang for the buck, the repetitive flavor is what ends up being its main downfall.

Overall: 7/10.  As always, Malt-O-Meal provides some great value, especially when compared to the national brand.  The smell, which is strongly of honey, is definitely inviting, as is the strong orange color of the corn flakes.  However, it slightly falters in the taste department, in which every bite, no matter what’s on the spoon, tastes like honey.  This might not be a bad thing to you, but I much prefer the muted, slightly sweetened corn flakes and the cluster flavor explosion of Aldi’s brand.

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