We Tried Kellogg's New Little Debbie Cereals To See if They Taste Like Real Snack Cakes
Oatmeal Creme Pies and Cosmic Brownies have taken on new life as cereals, but are they good?
Over the past few months, Kellogg's has collaborated on two new Little Debbie-themed cereals that turned classic Little Debbie snack cakes into breakfast food.
First, the company announced an Oatmeal Creme Pies Cereal that features crispy oatmeal puffs seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and molasses and surrounded in a creme-like glaze. Next, Kellogg's announced Cosmic Brownies Cereal, which are described simply as crispy brownie squares with cosmic rainbow pieces.
I got my hands on a box of both new cereals to see if Kellogg's attempt at recreating Little Debbie classics is a home run or a total strike. Here's what I determined.
Kellogg's and Little Debbie are personal to me.
To fully appreciate my review, you'll need some background on my upbringing. I was raised Seventh-Day Adventist, which is a relatively young Christian denomination that's known for its peculiar plant-based diet. Formed in the 19th century, Adventism takes ownership of several vegetarian food traditions: haystacks, soy meats, breakfast cereals, and snack cakes.
Growing up, it was impossible to escape Kellogg's and Little Debbie treats, not only because they lined the aisles at grocery stores, but because they were Adventist-run, a source of pride for an otherwise-overlooked religion. At the Adventist schools I attended, I learned about John Harvey Kellogg in science, history, and religion classes. When I visited an Adventist university as a high-school senior, the tour guide sold the nearby Little Debbie factory as a campus perk. In college, I had a crush on Debbie's cute nephews that my friends knew. It's a whole thing.
All this to say, I am very familiar with Kellogg's and Little Debbie products, so when I heard about their cereal collab, I knew I had a duty to weigh in.
The Oatmeal Creme Pies cereal doesn't taste much like oatmeal or creme.
Here's the thing: Oatmeal Creme Pies aren't super flavorful to begin with—most of their appeal is in the soft texture—so Kellogg's had an uphill battle recreating the snack cake as a hard cereal. That said, if you're going to take on a difficult task, you have to at least sort of deliver.
The cereal pieces smell of the same spices that Oatmeal Creme Pies have, but their "creme coating" does little to emulate the experience of fluffy vanilla creme. Similarly, while the bits of cereal are called "crispy oatmeal puffs," they're a very different form of oatmeal than what you'd find in a gritty oatmeal cookie. Once the milk starts to soak into the puffs, they do get a little creamier, so that's a plus.
At the end of the day, a bite of the Oatmeal Cream Pies cereal didn't spark the nostalgia that comes with biting into an actual Oatmeal Creme Pie.
Still, the Oatmeal Creme Pies cereal is delicious.
So maybe the cereal doesn't taste identical to Oatmeal Creme Pies. I still cannot deny that it's addicting—I ate the whole box in under 24 hours. Maybe, just maybe, it's a good thing that the cereal doesn't taste like a real cookie.
The Cosmic Brownies cereal is Kellogg's version of Cocoa Puffs.
Cosmic Brownies don't have so much of a distinct flavor as they do a distinct look and feel. They're moist, they're frosted, and they're topped with colorful chocolate chips. For obvious reasons, Kellogg's would not be able to recreate those properties with a breakfast cereal.
What Kellogg's seemed to have done, rather than trying to make an exact replica of Cosmic Brownies, is created a solid chocolate cereal that could be widely enjoyed regardless of your stance on Cosmic Brownies. The result is a cereal that's shaped like miniature cosmic brownies with touches of colored sugar dots, but doesn't do much else to bring you back to the days of trading kids a nickel for a piece of their Cosmic Brownie on the playground.
At the risk of sounding anti-Kellogg's, I'd say the company took the Cocoa Puffs recipe and Kellogged it.
I would eat Cosmic Brownies cereal for breakfast from time to time.
They might not be gooey and frosted, but the Cosmic Brownies cereal bits are still tasty in their own right. I probably wouldn't eat them every day, but I wouldn't be mad about pouring myself another bowl tomorrow morning. Chocolate-flavored cereals are, after all, a worthwhile indulgence.
Don't think of these cereals as miniature Little Debbie snacks.
The challenge of reviewing these Little Debbie cereals is that I want to judge them based on how well they represent the snack cakes I grew up on, and in that case, I have some critiques.
What I've realized as I've pondered the Kellogg's x Little Debbie collaboration, though, is that the nostalgia doesn't have to come from the flavor. When I look at a box of Oatmeal Creme Pies Cereal or Cosmic Brownies Cereal, I see the snack cakes I once loved and remember all the good times I had eating them on road trips, in my high school computer lab, and while studying for exams in Kellogg Hall, my university's cafeteria and student life center.
The flavor of these cereals may not remind me of my youth, but that doesn't stop me from taking a moment to reflect on those formative times when I lift the box and pour myself a bowl.
If you strip away the notion that a Little Debbie-themed cereal has to perfectly mimic Little Debbie snack cakes, you'll find that Kellogg's created two tasty new breakfast foods to start your day with, and that's a pretty great accomplishment.