The time has come for the winning submissions – Rosemary Cheddar (the best of the bunch), Vanilla Chai (uber-cinnamon), Lemon Ricotta Pancake (creamy lemon candy). Bring Your Best Bowl is Quaker Oats’ version of our favorite chip flavor submission competition. It began soliciting fan flavors early in 2016. I don’t usually love oatmeal packets. I find them a little too sweet and sometimes too artificial tasting. I like steel cut oats with honey – but anyway…these were interesting enough to try.
Rosemary Cheddar – It’s obviously inspired by cult-favorite flavor combo apple pie & cheddar cheese. It also offers a savory oatmeal, which is a concept that’s overdue for popularity. There is a strong rosemary smell as soon as I opened the package – maybe a bit too strong. After cooking, the cheddar smell was more prominent. But eating it, the cheddar taste wasn’t that noticeable. I could see the rosemary and apple (normal packaged oatmeal apple bits). But no visual cheddar. All that said, it was tasty and probably the best of the bunch. I would buy it again as an alternative to the more regular flavors. B+
Vanilla Chai – I had to look up what “chai” is. As best as I can tell it’s a food buzzword to make things sound fancy, exotic, or expensive. Actually, its tea. Fortunately, this oatmeal didn’t taste like tea. It didn’t really taste like vanilla either. Although to be fair, vanilla tastes best when it’s subtle. Quaker Oats’ Vanilla Chai screamed cinnamon into my tastebuds. And it had an artificial sweetner aftertaste to boot. This one wasn’t all that tasty. And it wasn’t all that unique. C-
Lemon Ricotta Pancake – I got a strong lemon smell as soon as it came out of the microwave. Commonly with lemon-flavored foods, my mind instantly turns to thoughts of lemon scented Pledge Kitchen Cleaner. But I put that preconception behind me and gave Lemon Ricotta Pancake a chance. It was okay. Maybe a little better than okay. It offered a nice creaminess that must have been the Riccotta. The Lemon was a little bit candy-ish. But not overly sweet. If I liked lemon for breakfast, I’d consider it again. But if it’s competing with cinnamon, maple syrup, peaches, and apple – it doesn’t stand a chance. C+
Reviewed by Hugh Gallon (with input from and appreciation to correspondent Gary Costello)