Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s vs. Pumpkin Spice Cheerios
As promised at the end of my Great Pumpkin Yogurt Smackdown, today I am comparing Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s to Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. It took me a while to be able to make the comparison as Cheerios released its Pumpkin Spice Limited Edition last month but Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s were not available until very recently. Now that I have the two side by side, you might notice that the Cheerios box towers over the Pumpkin O’s box. The Cheerios box is 21 ounces and cost $3.98 at my local WalMart, approximately 5.3 cents per ounce. The Pumpkin O’s box is 12 ounces and cost $2.49, approximately 4.8 cents per ounce.
Also immediately noticeable is the difference in the actual cereal’s appearance. The Cheerios are much smaller and darker, looking very much like a slightly orange version of regular Cheerios. The Pumpkin O’s are much bigger and lighter, and are also less dense. Nutrition wise, Cheerios pulls a bit of a fast one. One serving of each of these cereals has 110 calories. However, a serving size of Cheerios is 3/4 of a cup while the serving size of Pumpkin O’s is a full cup. Pumpkin O’s also only have 1 gram of fat per serving while Cheerios has 2 grams.
Moving on the the ingredients list, Cheerios has pumpkin puree as the sixth ingredient while Pumpkin O’s lists pumpkin as the fifth ingredient. Cheerios’ first ingredient is, of course, whole grain oats while Pumpkin O’s is whole grain brown rice. However, whole grain oats are the third ingredient, right after cane sugar. (Cheerios uses plain old sugar.) The only other major difference in the ingredients list is while Pumpkin O’s contains cinnamon, Cheerios contains not only cinnamon but also nutmeg and cloves. (Both cereals are gluten free.)
When it came time to taste test, I used 2% milk and tried the Cheerios first, as I’d never had them before but I had eaten Pumpkin O’s before. I have to admit, I was rooting for Pumpkin O’s and didn’t have high expectations for Cheerios. This is probably because I like regular Joe’s O’s better than regular Cheerios. However, this time I was very pleasantly surprised. The pumpkin spice flavor came through very clearly and the cereal exceeded my expectations. It tasted pretty much as advertised on the box – like Cheerios with pumpkin spice.
I cleansed my palate with water and took a bite of the Pumpkin O’s. From the first time I had them a couple of years ago, they have always reminded me somewhat of Apple Jacks in size and texture. They still do, only tasting like pumpkin spice instead of apple. The pumpkin spice flavor of the cereal comes through in the Pumpkin O’s as well, but is – in my opinion – more subtle but slightly more sweet than the Cheerios.
Determining a winner is tough. Because it is healthier and slightly more economical, Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s edge out Pumpkin Spice Cheerios. However, as far as taste is concerned, for me it’s a tie. Both cereals are tasty and both bring the pumpkin spice flavor.
With more and more pumpkin spice items hitting the shelves, please let me know in the comments below what other smackdowns you’d like to see! If you missed the post that started it all, check out my Great Pumpkin Sandwich Cookie Smackdown.