I have to be honest, I don’t review a lot of cereal anymore because I don’t really eat it and the kids have grown out of cereal onto things like eggs and bagels, something a little more filling. But every once in a while I get a hankering for a big bowl of cereal just when I was a kid. Just when I had such a craving, it turned pumpkin season at Trader Joe’s and out came the giant boxes of Pumpkin O’s cereal and I just had to grab a box.
Oh boy, I can’t tell you how many boxes of Cheerios I went through as a kid. Every morning, I would get a big bowl of cereal and drown it in milk then came the spoonfuls of sugar. Lots of sugar. I’m surprised I have no teeth left. It was a different time and our awareness of eating so much sugar wasn’t there. This is mostly why I don’t eat cereal anymore but every once in a while, I just have to have a big bowl.
What could be better than combining two of my favorite things? Cereal and Pumpkin (and Pumpkin spice) flavors? Not much in my humble opinion.
So, last week when the shelves were brimming with pumpkin flavored products and as usual I saw this on some end cap a pang of nostalgia for my cereal eating youth hit me and I picked up a box thinking this would be a great thing to review even though Trader Joe’s has been making this for many many years.
Trader Joe’s actually makes three O’s cereals this time of year: Trader Joe’s O’s, Trader Joe’s Honey O’s, and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s. I’ve had them all and they are all good in their own right.
Let me back up a minute, just so we are all on the same page. Do you all know that these are a direct ripoff of the famous Cheerios by General Mills? Almost the same exact ingredients. Same color scheme and the same flavor. I wouldn’t be surprised if General Mills makes this on the side for Trader Joe’s, but who really knows or even cares? All I know is that Trader Joe’s O’s are significantly cheaper.
But this review is about Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s and these are a completely different cereal than the regular Trader Joe’s O’s. These are both Vegan and Gluten Free which is always a good thing in some people’s book.
The first obvious difference when you look at the ingredients list is the first ingredient is WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE and the second is Sugar. With regular O’s it’s Whole Grain Oats then Sugar. In fact, the regular Trader Joe’s O’s only have 2 grams of sugar per serving while the Pumpkin O’s have 12 grams of sugar per serving which is 6 times more sugar!
Having pointed that out, I was still eager to try these because I wanted to see what the hype was all about.
The first thing I did was open the box and the inner bag and I would immediately smell the cinnamon and some of the oat goodness, but mostly the cinnamon. It wasn’t overpowering, but subtle which I liked.
Then I popped a small handful in my mouth and I thought to myself, WOW these are wonderful! There is a nice crunch I think because of the sugar coating and just the right amount of pumpkin spice or maybe just cinnamon but it tastes like there is more going on “Natural flavors” might be where they are hiding the rest of the pumpkin spice flavors.
But I couldn’t stop eating them right out of the box. I finally had to close the box and stop. I also realized I probably just ate my sugar allocation of the day with a couple of handfuls. They are quite sweet, which is something the regular Trader Joe’s O’s are not.
I later tried them in a small bowl with some milk and they were great again, if just as sweet if not sweeter because the milk lends a bit of sweetness too. Some of the sugar coating comes off in the milk but they remained crunchy for quite some time after getting drowned in milk.
All in all, I am a little befuddled about how to rate these. If I suppress the desire to eat less sugar, then these are almost a perfect 10. They are that good. But, honestly, we don’t need that much sugar in our diets. I don’t want to be preachy about it but if you love them, keep buying them.
There is some benefit to eating all these grains. Good thing they only come out for a short period of time every Fall. Because of the sugar, I was going to give them 10 Bells, a first for Club Trader Joe’s but I am going to knock them down to 9 Bells.
WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE, CANE SUGAR, WHOLE GRAIN OATS, BROWN SUGAR, SEA SALT, PUMPKIN, CALCIUM CARBONATE, CINNAMON, NATURAL FLAVOR, ANNATTO EXTRACT (COLOR), MIXED TOCOPHEROLS (VITAMIN E AS AN ANTIOXIDANT FOR FRESHNESS).
- MAY CONTAIN ALMONDS, HAZELNUTS.