Bunnies for Breakfast

Annie’s Bunnies sweet cereals

Annie’s Bunnies sweet cereals

I Paid: $2.99 per 9-ounce box (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

It’s hard not to root for Annie’s, the natural and organic foods company whose earthy, rabbit-driven marketing is as indie-cute as Sufjan Stevens cradling a hand-knit sock monkey. The brand rose to alterna-gastronomic prominence via its organic mac ’n’ cheese, and the company markets its products with a whimsy-meets-natural-foods approach. This makes a lot of sense: The natural and organic aspect needs a little humor to balance its earnestness.

That said: Like pepperoni-stuffed pizza pockets, cheese-stuffed hot dogs, and marshmallow fluff, sweet cereal is a product that just seems out of place in the natural foods genre. After all, when done right, it is, essentially, dessert for breakfast. A more austere cereal might be a better fit for Annie’s (indeed, the company has a Cheerios-esque product called Bunny Love Cereal that works along these lines). Instead, Annie’s has introduced two new, slightly sweet flavors of corn and whole-oat breakfast cereal: Fruity Bunnies and Cocoa & Vanilla Bunnies.

The claims are encouraging enough (“0g Trans Fat & 0g Saturated Fat, No Cholesterol, Vegan, Grown and Processed without GMOs, Made with Whole Oats”), but everything ultimately rides on taste.

Seeking to please the kid with the sweet tooth and the health-conscious parent (two naturally hostile constituencies), the company has turned out products unlikely to satisfy either. Well, unlikely to satisfy the kid, at any rate. The Fruity Bunnies taste like Cheerios with a trace of Froot Loops. If you didn’t look at the box, you might wonder if your Cheerios had gone bad. The stuff’s not a total loss (it doesn’t get mealy or mushy in milk and has a bit of intriguing tartness), but it really needs some refined sugar sprinkled on top for it to sparkle from a flavor perspective … which sort of defeats the purpose.

Cocoa & Vanilla Bunnies fare even worse. The seemingly unsweetened taste of vanilla is dominant, actually creating a vaguely boozy flavor. It’s a strange and not terrific experience first thing in the morning. Again, if you sprinkle sugar on the cereal, it makes more sense, tasting a bit more like marshmallows, but it’s still a far cry from Cocoa Krispies in terms of actually pleasing the sweet tooth.

The idea of a relatively healthy and environmentally feel-good sweet cereal is not a bad one, but it may be ultimately unattainable.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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