I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Grape Nuts versus Grape Nuts Flakes

I think I might be the only person in the world who bought a box of Grape Nuts Flakes.

58 grams each of Grape Nuts Flakes (left) and real Grape Nuts (right).
The Flakes are 220 calories and the original Grape Nuts are 200.

Grape Nuts are the Neo Geo of cereals: everyone knows one guy who likes them, usually an eccentric distant relative, but most people have never seen or tried them. And that’s for the best.

Most sane people don’t want their breakfast cereal to be gritty, bland, dense, and boring. They don’t want each spoonful of gravel to take an eternity to chew. They don’t want their jaws to feel sore after eating breakfast.

Grape Nuts come in a little box that weighs a ton and is always buried somewhere hard to find in the cereal aisle. On the back of my current Grape Nuts box, where most cereals put children’s games or at least something to read, Post has decided to share a meatloaf recipe (that naturally incorporates Grape Nuts).

But I must be weird, because I like Grape Nuts, along with very few other people.

What, exactly, are Grape Nuts? Barry Newman at the Wall Street Journal explains:

Mixed with yeast (one cup per 2,000 pounds) and water, the flour turns to dough, gets chopped into 10-pound loaves and sent into a huge oven — 1,610 loaves at a time. “Now it gets interesting,” Mr. Vargas said at his workstation, watching the loaves emerge from the oven and catapult into the darkness. An instant later, they hit the fan — a whirling high-speed shredder that rips them to smithereens.

“It’s bread,” Mr. Vargas said.

The ingredient list is refreshingly short for a mass-market boxed cereal: whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast. It’s a recipe that’s been barely touched for 113 years.

But to make the Flakes, Post had to puff them up somehow and add sugar and vegetable oil.

The result is a disaster.

It’s not that the Flakes taste bad — rather, like Ocean’s Twelve, they’re bland, unmemorable, and a complete waste of a cereal-eating opportunity. After eating a bowl, I don’t feel full or even satisfied. Like most sugary flakes, I’d need a truckload of them (and their sugar, and their calories) to feel like I had a satisfactory breakfast, which is one of the reasons I stay away from most cereals and eat Grape Nuts in the first place.

Grape Nuts fans will think they’re too sweet and delicate. Normal human beings will think they’re bland, boring, and a waste of calories. If you’re going to eat Grape Nuts, there’s no substitute, and if you’re going to eat sugary flakes, you can do a lot better.

I don’t know who Post made these for.