Some weeks back, dear readers, I asked you a question.
I wondered what other liquids might possibly work as a pour-over for cereal. Tell me, I wrote, what I should try, adding this as my only defense:
We can’t promise we’ll try everything, especially if it seems like you’re just trying to make us ralph up those wholesome Os, but all ideas are welcome.
Well, you came through, and only one of you seemed to make me want to barf. I compiled a list and tried everything I could, omitting only things I couldn’t find. I even added a thing or two. I don’t feel so good at the moment, but here are my findings.
I’ve broken them into four categories: Cold, Hot, Booze, and Okay, sure.
I would pour a small amount of cereal into a bowl—most often Kellogg’s Corn Flakes or Cheerios—then add a proportionate amount of the liquid in question, adding more as needed. Cold things were kept cold until I needed them. Hot things were served steaming hot. Booze was booze.
If something was bearable, I’d have a bite, wait a minute (moving on to something else), then try another bite, so I could try it at two consistencies.
And I drank a lot of water (and, to be honest, a lot of beer—I tried three, and what was I going to do, let the rest of the can or bottle go to waste?)
Orange juice: Okay, so I tried the orange juice and cornflakes thing. It’s not my bag, but honestly, I sort get it. Kind of like eating granola with really tart dried fruit in it, only it’s liquid, and that makes it just feel weird, if you know what I mean. Like orange drink that someone spilled stuff in. Might be better with some other kind of cereal? Still, nah.
Rating (out of 5): 🥄🥄
Kefir: Skyisfa11ing suggested this as a milk alternative (though specifically a goat’s milk kefir, which I could not find at my local market.). Hoo, boy, is this not for me. This strange not quite yogurt, not quite milk consistency seems like it would work fine for cereal, but texturally, it was pretty unappealing. I’ll admit I’m not a yogurt person in general, so this would never have appealed to me, but while I can usually make my way through yogurt (see below), this was an immediate non-starter for me. Your mileage may vary.
Yogurt: Several of you suggested yogurt, which makes sense, as this is basically just eating yogurt with granola, only it’s cereal and the ratio is different. It’s fine, if you like yogurt, which I mostly don’t. Again, YMMV, but at least this one appealed somewhat.
Iced coffee: xcjedi1974 specifically suggested a chocolate cereal and “very cold” iced coffee. My kitchen is tiny, so rather than use something like Count Chocula, I tried it with the Reese’s Puffs I bought for another suggested pairing. The taste of the cereal was so overwhelming that you could barely taste the coffee (which had cream and sugar in it to begin with). I tried it with cornflakes as well, and that was a better pairing, though not as cozy as its cousin in the hot section. File under dessert, not breakfast.
Vanilla ice cream: Like Seagram’s, which you’ll find in the booze section, this was a grandpa suggestion, this time from Codfangler. I used Jeni’s Honey Vanilla Bean ice cream and Cheerios, and it was delicious—but it’s ice cream, of course it was delicious. Also file under dessert, though I will absolutely consider using Cheerios, or cornflakes, or loads of other cereals as an ice cream topping in future. I poured some of my hot coffee in this at the end, and that was great, too. Loses a spoon because it’s ice cream, and that feels like cheating.
Apple juice and apple cider: This seemed like a slam dunk to me, but as with orange juice, it was just a strange experience texturally, like drinking something that someone spilled in. If you like wine with cork floating in it, or tea with leaves floating around willy-nilly, then have at it. Flavor-wise, perfectly acceptable (and better than OJ), with the cider having a slight edge. Enhanced the nuttiness of the Cheerios, which is what I paired with it, at DJ MC’s suggestion.
Root beer: Maybe I just can’t get past the carbonation. Maybe it was just too sweet. Whatever the case, this was a very good root beer, and I just could not get into this. Tried it with Cheerios as well as cornflakes. Nope. Absolutely not. Sorry, CaptainPower.
Water: I’ll give this to root beer—it was better with Cheerios and cornflakes than this. How is it possible that water is so bad? It’s water. It tastes like water. It makes cereal so much worse. Do not do this.
Rating: No spoons awarded. Shame on you, water.
Coffee, hot: Uberculture made a recommendation I’m dying to try—a hot Scotchy, which I’ll be sampling the next time a homebrewer friend of mine gets going—but also suggested Shredded Wheat with coffee. I tried this three ways. With black coffee, surprisingly appealing, but too strange to really keep going with. Then I added half and half, which was much easier to comprehend, and made it look like oatmeal or cream of wheat. Last, I added a little sugar, and that shot this straight to tasty. Not something I’d do every day, but once in a blue moon, I honestly might.
Rating (out of 5): 🥄🥄 (black), 🥄🥄🥄 (with half and half), 🥄🥄🥄🥄 (with half and half, and sugar)
Tea: Where it all began! I tried a black tea (English Breakfast), as well as a sweet orange tea, and a green tea. Cesium Croissant suggested sweeter teas, and both the orange and the green were fine, if not something I’d go for every day. The Cheerios seemed to enhance what sweetness there was, while the warmth, as with the coffee, made the experience vaguely oatmealish. The English Breakfast, though, got somehow toastier, while the floral elements were somewhat diminished. I preferred coffee, but it was still pretty darn tasty (and moreso with a little milk and sugar).
Rating: 🥄🥄 (green and sweet orange herbal), 🥄🥄🥄 (English Breakfast, with and without milk and sugar)
Hot chocolate: As it happens, the best powdered food popcorn topping is also great with cereal! Mndrew wanted me to try a very specific combination, but sadly, my market did not have Barbara’s Peanut Butter Puffins, They did, however, have Reese’s Puffs, and those were very good with hot chocolate. Even better, though, were the Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, and cornflakes. Like cereal in chocolate milk, which I’d do from time to time as a kid, but much cozier. Might not do this again—my sweet tooth is greatly diminished as a grown up—but on a cold day, I just might.
Broth: A few of you suggested broth or stock. Y’all, this is delicious. This is so good, in fact, I might do another one of these, just combining cereals and broths/stocks (I used a chicken broth here). Makes sense, because it’s essentially just soup. I will for sure do this the next time I’m sick. I might do it sooner. I had this for lunch today, and not my leftover enchiladas. If you like chicken and rice soup, you would love this. If you like savory grits, you would love this. I love this.
Gin: Duckonajunebug recounted that his grandfather used to pour Seagrams on his cornflakes. Two things: one, I was not sure if this was a suggestion, but I am nothing if not thorough; two, I didn’t know if this was gin or whiskey, so I tried both. This was specifically Scofflaw Old Tom Gin from North Shore Distillery. It was like biting into a shot of gin while some Cheerios got in the way. Do not recommend.
Whiskey: See above. I tried Mars Shinshu Iwai Whisky with cornflakes. More palatable—makes sense, since there’s plenty of corn in that mash bill. Still, would not recommend, though I would be curious about some sort of shot with a cornflake floating on top maybe? Drink it before it gets soggy?
Irish cream: Try Kerrygold Irish Cream, I thought. It’ll be delicious, I thought. I was very wrong. The worst part of the cereal-booze combo with the overwhelming sweetness or ice cream, only room temperature and syrupy. The nopest of nopes.
Mead: Lord of the Ducks specifically suggested mead with Honey Nut Cheerios, but bizarrely, my market was out. Even with plain old Cheerios, however, this was pretty tasty. I can’t imagine ever feeling the need to use mead for this, instead of for drinking (or baking), but it was tasty all the same. I think that’s in part because the taste of alcohol was much more faint.
Beer: Okay, so lots of people suggested beer. I skipped the cheap beer option, because I, too, went to college, and have no desire to revisit—though if memory serves, Guinness and Lucky Charms wasn’t bad. Instead, I tried three different beers. One, Saugatuck Brewing Company’s Bonfire Brown, was decent, though I’d still rather just drink the beer. The other two, Empirical Brewing’s Cold Fusion Cream Ale and Allagash’s Curieux, were just bad together. I think in general the carbonation is weird, but it’s just unpleasant in general.
Rating: 🥄🥄🥄 (brown ale), 🥄🥄 (other beers)
Count Chocula and clam chowder: I’m sorry, Diabolik, I just couldn’t bring myself to buy clam chowder and Count Chocula for the express purposes of combining them. But I did pair potato soup with Reese’s Puffs. See photo below.
Rating: No spoons awarded. I choose not to revisit it, even in print. I will forget it and you should, too. Some boxes were never meant to be open.
Cooking ramen in tea: Again, I tried it. I am a completist. Honestly, if I were making a proper bowl of ramen, with the right combination of ingredients and the right tea, then maybe. Who knows, maybe we’ll try this later too. But just ramen, cooked in tea? Nope. Again, see photo below.