Sunday, September 7, 2014

Millville Cinnamon Crunch Squares Cereal (Aldi)

The downside of private label recipe tinkering: This once great cereal, reduced to crap.
One of the interesting things about dealing with private labels, is sometimes the suppliers change.  And when the suppliers change, so too does the recipe.  Since Aldi is comprised almost entirely of private labels (though more and more national brands keep creeping in, much to my dismay), recipes and formulations seem to be altered almost weekly.  Sometimes, it’s for the better:  Their gelatin fruit cups used to be inedible long ago, but they now just taste like del Monte’s.  Other times, it’s not, and this is sadly one of those cases.

If I had been writing this review even three months ago, I would be talking about how the cereal had a perfect amount of cinnamon, while the squares were light and fluffy.  It was definitely one of the best cereal knock-offs in a store full of good ones.  But something changed between now and then, and it has taken a serious nose-dive in quality, to the point that I will never buy it again (something I told myself last time, only to forget they changed the recipe).

For one, the squares have gotten much…well…crunchier.  While I can see some liking this change, I for one preferred when the squares were softer and almost melted in your mouth.  The upside to this, I guess, is that the cereal doesn’t get soggy so quick.  If this was the only change, I’m sure I could learn to adapt.  After all, who cares about a little extra crunch, right?

Well gone is the delectable cinnamon flavor of yester…month, in favor of a much lighter, almost subtle taste.  Whereas the cinnamon used to jump to the forefront and dance delicately on your palette, exciting your taste buds, this new version can best be compared to the taste of a cinnamon rice cake:  You know it’s there, but it leaves you wanting more.  Even the crunchier cereal square tastes like it’s been burnt, which might explain the sudden change in texture.  But before you go around thinking this was just a bad batch, remember, I accidentally bought this cereal a second time, with the same results, and the odds of getting a bad batch twice are probably one-in-a-trillion.  The original’s pleasant aftertaste is also gone, replaced with something that’s much more metallic and uninviting.

This new version is so bad, I’m tempted to build a time machine, track down the person responsible for the change, and off him before he has a chance to mess with my precious, precious cinnamon squares.  But while we’re all holding our breath for that to happen (and while I go to college for 10 years in order to understand how exactly to build a time machine), I’d just go ahead and avoid it.  At least, until they inevitably change the recipe again somewhere down the line.

Overall: 2/10.  There aren’t many products that I can flat-out say I would never buy again from Aldi, especially in the usually-excellent cereal department, but Millville’s Cinnamon Crunch Squares fit that bill.  Replacing a delicious version of this cereal is a new recipe that features crunchier cereal squares that almost taste burnt, a cinnamon flavor that you have to dig for, and a gross aftertaste that won’t leave your mouth as soon as you want it to.  I still must give it some marks for value, as a box goes for under $2, but value can only go so far when the product isn’t even worth buying, let alone eating.

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