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Meijer Honey Nut Toasted Oats (Meijer)

My wife used Meijer’s curbside pickup for the first time ever, to help cut some time off of her usual grocery trips—and that’s how I ended up with a box of Meijer’s Honey Nut Toasted Oats, which I probably wouldn’t have even looked at twice had I seen it for myself: this is some of the worst “mainstream” private label packaging I’ve ever seen. It looks like something you would get at Dollar Tree, instead of a reputable supermarket chain. (Maybe it’s just me, but that red, cursive-style font is just atrocious, and takes the otherwise decent design down a few pegs.)

Well, if nothing else, this cautionary tale serves as a perfect example of “never judge a book by its cover”, because this is probably the best store brand “O’s” knockoff I’ve ever had. The “honey” and “nut” balance of flavors is well-defined here, with a solid dose of both that really make the flavors sing. Honestly, I’ve never had a bad version of this cereal (outside of Dollar Tree, anyway), but this one tastes the closest to how I remember the national brand tasting; others seem to shy away from the honey, but this one is proud to present it front and center, the way it should be. It doesn’t come anywhere close to being overbearing, but it’s stronger than some other ones I’ve tried, and that’s definitely a good thing.

The “O’s” themselves are, as expected, round and uniform, featuring what appears to be a light glaze on the outside. We’ve seen this before, and near as I can tell, it serves two functions: as a carrier for the flavor, as well as a “milk-resistant” layer, which prevents the cereal from becoming a sloppy pile of nothing within seconds of coming into contact with the milk. Of course, it does get weaker and weaker by the minute – again, as is expected – but most bites have at least a bit of “crunch” to them until you get to the bottom of the bowl, which matches the texture of other private labels we’ve tried.

About the only thing left to look at is value: the $1.79 asking price for a 12.25 oz. box (or $2.79 for a “family size” 21.6 oz box) aren’t the greatest offers in the world, but there are still enough savings over the name brand price to justify the cost. That gives it some solid marks in the budget department, and means that it checks all the major boxes on the “budget food review” checklist, offering up a great product at a reasonable value.

Now if only they could do something about that heinous packaging…

Overall: 8/10. Dollar store style packaging notwithstanding, this might be the best “honey nut O’s” cereal knockoff I’ve ever had: The cereal is nice and crispy out of the box, with a strong resistance to milk that prevents the “O’s” from collapsing into a pile of mush for a few minutes after coming into contact with the cereal. Meanwhile, the honey flavor is stronger than most private label brands, and comes closest to my (admittedly old) memories of the national brand. The value isn’t Earth-shattering, but it provides enough savings over buying “the real thing” to make it a strongly recommended alternative. Get it…you won’t be disappointed.

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