« July 2021 | Main

April 29, 2023

What better way to celebrate the 60th birthday of the iconic “Cap’n Crunch” than with a big heaping bowl of something that is not Cap’n Crunch?

Birthday Crunch 1

[Readers Note: You'll find me mostly at Not The Bee, but also here on rare occasion and also my Substack.]

When I first came across this in the grocery aisle, I thought, great, an excuse to eat Cap'n Crunch! "Calm down honey," I moronsplained,  "It's for work!" (Let me know if that works any better for you than it did for me.)

When I got closer and noticed all the colored spheres, I was a little disappointed in that I'm not a fan of Crunch Berries and never have been, as I believe them to be interlopers in an otherwise harmonious blend of sugar, corn, and poor nutritional choices. Would you put a hat on the Mona Lisa? Would you put a pair of shorts on David? Would you peel that banana duct taped to a wall?

Okay, strike that last one, but you get the idea.

But it was worse than I thought.

There wasn't any Cap'n Crunch in this birthday box of Cap'n Crunch.

Birthday Crunch 2

Yes, I know there is a so-called version of Cap'n Crunch that consists of all Crunch Berries, but they are called "Oops" for a reason.

Birthday Crunch 3

They are literally branded as a mistake.

This latest iteration of the Cap'n Crunch line was done on purpose, as blatant an insult as would be throwing a dinner commemorating the 75th anniversary of In-N-Out by serving Five Guys, or marking the end of Tom Brady's football career by putting together a Peyton Manning highlight reel.

Which I would not be 100% against.

Look, Cap'n Crunch is about more than just a naval commander of indeterminate national loyalties and sugar crashes by 10 AM. No, the Cap'n is an iconic representation of America. Sweet, yes, but capable of unspeakable acts of violence. Little sugar-coated cheese graters designed to lacerate the roof of your mouth like no hot pepperoni pizza or over-toasted grilled cheese sandwich ever could, and then settle deep into your molars the better to ensure your dentist can afford to send his kids to private school.

Birthday Crunch 4

And worth every painful spoonful.

So what about Birthday Crunch?

They look festive enough on the box, apparently trying to evoke party balloons or something.

Birthday Crunch 5

I'm getting less "party balloons," and more "aquarium gravel."

Birthday Crunch 6

As for nutrition, this is of course, a "sugary" cereal, although with slightly less sugar than the original.

Birthday Crunch 7

Yes, even 14 grams is a lot for a 150-calorie bowl, but to put that in perspective, consider that a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola has a similar 140 calories but nearly three times the sugar.

That hardly makes Cap'n Crunch a health food, but an occasional bowl now and then is probably the least of your health worries, mine being skin cancer, Alzheimers, and clowns, although that last one is less a health worry and more just basic common sense.

It does have the standard complement of artificial this and thats, but that is also to be expected and nothing out of the ordinary for the genre.

Birthday Crunch 8

How about taste, the only reason anyone would get these?

They market these as "birthday cake flavor."

Birthday Crunch 9

Birthday cake flavor has become very popular, increasingly showing up in recent years in all manner of places where it doesn't belong, from popcorn to vodka, but what, exactly, is birthday cake flavor and how do they instill it in foods that are not birthday cake?

That is a closely guarded secret among "flavorists" (which apparently is a thing) and often regarded as proprietary among manufacturers, however here is a typical example from food scientist Susie Bautista via Salon.

Some creamy notes I use are delta Decalactone (FEMA 2361), delta Dodecalactone (FEMA 2401), Sulfurol (FEMA 3204) and Dimethyl Sulfide (FEMA 2746). Ethyl butyrate (FEMA 2427) will enhance the creamy character of the birthday cake flavor in addition to providing a berry top note.

An extra slice of Ethyl butyrate for me, please!

Incidentally, this is what a flavorist does:

A flavorist, also known as flavor chemist, is someone who uses chemistry to engineer artificial and natural flavors. The tools and materials used by flavorists are almost the same as that used by perfumers...

The bottom line is, birthday cake flavor is a concoction intended to mimic vanilla with some additional subtle notes like butter, and therein lies the problem. As noted in the Salon piece, birthday cake flavor can be off-putting given the chemical acrobatics flavorists have to go through to create it, and vanilla is such a nuanced flavor in and of itself it is easily overwhelmed by everything else around it.

Cap'n Crunch 60th Birthday cereal may just be the worst of the bunch.

Pour a bowl, or just stick your nose in the box, and you get a big whiff of what smells like a birthday party being held in your 9th-grade chemistry class. Pour milk on it, and an odd thing happens.

Birthday Crunch 10

The birthday cake-ish flavor vanishes replaced by what I can only describe as generic cereal aroma.

The taste is the same, like a store-brand knock-off of a big-brand cereal, with sugar being the predominant flavor.

I genuinely dislike these, which I can't say of nearly any of the other ill-advised cereals I've tried. I enjoyed the St. Patrick's Day Lucky Charms precisely because they still tasted like Lucky Charms, an iconic breakfast cereal in its own right, and was even okay with the not-particularly-good Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer cereal.

But these…

I mean, they aren't as bad as Kashi Go Keto-Friendly cereal I tried a while back, the boxes of which still remain untouched since my review. (I really need to toss those, although it's not as if they're going to attract rodents. Or cockroaches. Or really any living thing.)

I would be remiss if I did not note that there have been literally dozens of variations of Cap'n Crunch over the years many of which also had no actual Cap'n Crunch in them. This is just the latest one and an ongoing example of how utterly bereft of truly new ideas cereal manufacturers are.

Regardless, the bottom line on these is a pass. If you're going to have a not particularly healthy bowl of sugary cereal, go get a box of the original Cap'n Crunch.

And sit back and enjoy as the little breakfast loofahs gently exfoliate the dead skin off the roof of your mouth.

Also the live skin.

April 29, 2023 at 09:02 AM in Food and Drink | Permalink | Comments (2)