In an effort to make one of the world’s oldest, most boring breakfast cereals slightly more palatable, General Mills has blasted pieces of shredded wheat with a metric f***ton of cinnamon, sugar, chocolate and peanut butter. It doesn’t help.
There are few breakfast cereals quite as wholesome as shredded wheat. It’s wheat cooked, tempered, rolled into sheets, cut into shreds, stacked and crimped into pillow-like cubes. That’s a whole lot of processing to make a foodstuff only slightly tastier than straight-up stuffing wheat plants in your mouth. Every major cereal maker has its own version of shredded wheat—the name and process for making it is public domain at this point. But though they’ve tried frosting it, filling it with tiny dabs of fruit and chocolate or smearing the outside with yogurt, not one company has managed to make the dense and bland breakfast “treat” hip and happening.
Enter General Mills’ new flavor-blasted Shreds. Harnessing the brand recognition of Cinnamon Toast Crunch and the timeless combination of peanut butter and chocolate, good old GM has crafted a pair of cereals representing the pinnacle of shredded wheat coolness. It’s not a very high pinnacle.
Here’s the thing about shredded wheat. It’s heavy, heavy stuff. The two boxes shown in the picture up top were about three pounds each. Just holding one in my hands to open the bag was a chore.
Eating a bowl of shredded wheat is also a chore. No matter how good one’s intentions are or how much they think they’re craving the classic taste of whisk broom, by the third or fourth spoonful the task of chewing and swallowing the stuff is an arduous task. By the sixth or seventh spoonful the eater is questioning all of their choices. The spoon raises from bowl to mouth mechanically. The jaw chews because if it did not, surely the wheat would fill the throat, the esophagus, the entire being. And it never ends. There’s always one more piece in the bowl.
Coating the tiny wheat squares with sugar and cinnamon only delays the process by a spoon or two. At first the warm sweetness grants hope—maybe this breakfast is going to be okay. But no amount of granular masking can hide what lies beneath. The Cinnamon Toast Crunch variety is literally caked with cinnamon and sugar. The flavor lingers as the sopping wheat shards slowly strangle your soul.
As for the peanut butter and chocolate variety, consider that classic flavor team-up ruined. It’s all the flavor of Reese’s Puffs, only instead of light and fluffy corn cereal balls, it’s coating a cardboard boat anchor one has to eat piece by piece.
If you need to, or worse want to eat shredded wheat, just eat shredded wheat. There’s no sugarcoating that experience, and if you try you just make people depressed.