Sunday, September 18, 2016

Millville Original Oat Squares Cereal / Millville Balance Cereal (Aldi)

Ignore the mangled box and ketchup...had to take it out of the trash to get a pic. 
UPDATE: Aldi has added this cereal to its permanent inventory under the name "Millville Balance", where it is available in both original and cinnamon flavors. The price has been set at $1.99, at least here in Ohio, which is cheaper than it was as a special buy, but still not massive savings over the national brand. In fact, it's one of the most expensive cereals offered by the German discount chain. Still, the decreased cost along with the near-perfect taste imitation raises its score half-a-point, from 7 to 7.5. Original review below.

For the most part, Aldi's cereal lineup is a pretty darn stellar combination of accurate taste and value; it's pretty rare that I flat-out hate a cereal that they carry, whether it's a part of their constant inventory, or a Special Buy. When I flipped upon Millville's Oat Squares cereal in an Aldi ad, I got excited—my wife and I are always sure to pick these up whenever they are available (I get the regular; my wife gets the cinnamon)--because the taste is very good and the price is pretty reasonable. At least, that's what we initially thought.

Recently, a supermarket chain had the national brand version of this cereal for $1.79 per box, eventually dipping to as low as $1.49, and we both grabbed a couple boxes of our favorite kind. Since I don't normally get such brands, I'm ill-equipped to compare the two flavors side-by-side, but with the taste of the “original” fresh in my mind,

The taste is similar, yet much more different than I remembered. Whereas the national brand is “smoother” in its flavor, with a non-descript oat taste giving way to a slightly sweet finish, Millville's has a stronger initial oat taste, though it eventually fades a bit, ending on a very similar note of sweetness. In either case, it appropriately feels like a rather “light” cereal, in that there's no overwhelming tastes, nor is it very filling; it's the perfect breakfast or snack where you just want to put a little something in your tummy to help get you going.

Other than the slight differential in flavor, the appearance and texture between the two cereals are pretty much exact, with this cereal getting soggy pretty quickly once doused in milk. That's usually a problem that I have with cereals, but the weird design of these flakes doesn't make it such a big deal to me—this is probably the only kind that I can tolerate once it gets soft. Unlike some Aldi cereals, the flavor doesn't wash away with the milk, so that's another solid plus in Millville's favor.

If I had to choose, and I'm aware that I don't, I would actually give the slight edge to the national brand in this one, and my decision has more to do with the financial aspect than it does anything inside the box: Aldi's version retails for $2.49, making it one of the more expensive cereals that they carry. According to Walmart (my main source of info when comparing cereals, though a place I never shop), a box of the name-brand is $3.15, but for three added ounces. That especially makes the price differential a little too close for comfort, at least as far as I'm concerned, and helps to drag down what would otherwise be a pretty excellent product.

Overall: 7.5/10 (+.5 pt.). Normally, I would have given this cereal much higher marks in the past, but having just gotten a couple boxes of the national brand for $1.79—then, two weeks later, $1.49—from a supermarket chain kind of negates the “value” quotient of Millville's version, which retails for $2.49 (per update, price as permanent inventory item is now $1.99). Granted, I'm sure Millville is cheaper when it's not on sale, but this is still one of the more expensive cereals that Aldi carries, and that price seems a little high to me (I could also swear it was $1.99 the last time it was offered, though I could be wrong...). Aside from my problems with the price, the rest is pretty even, with the textures between both pretty much exact, while Millville's has a little more “oaty” flavor initially; both versions end on the exact same note of perfect sweetness. It's good, but thanks to its rather high price, at least when compared to other Millville offerings, not as great in the value department as it should be.

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