Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cheerios vs. Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal

Hello again! This is an exciting post, our first ever test and analysis! We are hoping the categories we use below will be the most helpful, but if you would like others added, please feel free to make suggestions. Also, given the regionality of many generics, we'll be focusing on Wal-Mart's Great Value brand, because it is national rather than regional (with 4,400 retail facilities, including Sam's Clubs, in the U.S.). So what did we use for our first test? Drum-roll please.....

Cheerios vs. Wal-Mart brand (Great Value) Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal

We figured we should start with something simple - Cheerios. Hasn't everyone who has ever bought Cheerios had a passing curiosity about whether the generic version was the exact same thing as the brand name version, just cheaper? They seem pretty simple, after all, and look almost exactly the same... how different could they be? Here's our analysis.

Price: comparing prices is going to be a little tricky, given that even within one retail chain different stores price things differently. When you look up toasted whole grain oat cereal in Wal-Mart's on-line store, for example, although a set price is provided for the brand-name version, next to the generic under price it says "store pricing may vary." So we're not trying to represent that the comparison provided here will be accurate for every Wal-Mart store, but we will provide the comparison anyway, in terms of a percentage (the generic cost "X" percent less than the name brand version) so you will have an idea of the savings that are possible when buying generic (with the caveat that, where you live, the savings might be a little more or less). At our local Wal-Mart the Great Value Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal cost just over 25% less than the Cheerios (pretty significant savings if you eat Cheerios regularly!).

Ingredients (this is word for word what is written on the side of the box - we're leaving it to you to sort out how all those vitamins compare - good luck!):

Cheerios: whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), modified corn starch, sugar, salt, tripotassium phosphate, wheat starch. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) added to preserve freshness. Also the following added vitamins and minerals: calcium carbonate, iron and zinc (mineral nutrients), vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), A B vitamin (niacinamide), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin A (palmitate), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin mononitrate), A B vitamin (folic acid), vitamin B12 and vitamin D3.

Great Value Toasted Whole Grain Oat Cereal: whole grain oat flour (includes the oat bran), wheat starch, sugar, modified cornstarch, oat fiber, salt, oat extract, dicalcium phosphate, tripotassium phospathe, calcium carbonate, vitamin C (sodium ascorbate), iron and zinc (mineral nutrients), niacinamide, BHT (a preservative), thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin A pamitate, folic acid, vitamin B12, vitamin D.

Calories/nutritional information: both versions had the same amount of calories, protein, and fiber per serving. The generic version had .5 g less fat per serving and 1 g more of carbohydrates. The only difference that really stood out is that the generic version had 30 mg more sodium per serving than the Cheerios, which could be significant for those following a salt-restricted diet (depending on how often you eat Cheerios).

Can you tell which is which?

Appearance: they look almost identical. This is a big part of the reason why we have found ourselves wondering so often if they weren't exactly the same. However, upon closer inspection, the generic version did appear a little rougher/puffier, and a teeny tiny bit larger than the smoother, slightly smaller brand-name O's.

Texture/the chew test: eating these dry, the experience was pretty much identical. Then we tried them with milk. We suspected adding milk might differentiate these more - since the generic O's appeared puffier and had a rougher texture, we thought they might absorb more milk or absorb it more quickly than the name brand cereal, resulting in the generic O's getting mushy faster than the name brand O's. This wasn't the case however. After pouring in the milk and trying both cereals, they seemed to have an identical consistency. Then we let them sit in the milk for about three minutes and tried again. Much to our surprise, they still had the same consistency. The generic O's were not any mushier than the name brand ones (they both had become equally mushy!).

and, finally,

Taste: this was tough. Our final call was that the generic version tastes almost identical to the name brand version. However there did seem to be a little extra "something" in the brand name version - it had a slightly more "oat-ey" (is that a word?) flavor. Put another way, the Cheerios seemed to have a slightly (and we mean very slightly) stronger/richer/tastier taste. It took a few handfuls of cereal before we really started to notice this though.

Bottom line: if you eat a lot of Cheerios in your family, give these a try - we don't think you will be disappointed. We're definitely going to buy them again.

1 comment:

  1. big difference if Cheerios has vitamin D3 and Great value has vitamin D. I seem to be a little allergic to D3 but not D.