Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Where oh where is the cereal here?

Brought from the USA
We've been in the Netherlands for 3 (!) years now and so I've had to make-do with products I find here (for the most part... I will admit to some addictions to things like Tom's of Maine toothpaste and still being unable to find unscented deodorant here.) In the Netherlands, there are very few choices of cereal. Seventeen varieties of Special K and a few others is about it. One of the cereals I miss most is Raisin Bran Crunch. It has just the right amount of crunchy-ness, a generous helping of raisins, and even decent bran content. Since the airlines implemented the recent fee increase for the second checked bag (well, at one point, long ago, you could take two bags on an international flight for no charge. Then it was $50 for the second bag. Now it is $70 or more, depending on the airline... argh), it makes more sense to try to create my favorite things here rather than import them.  For Raisin Bran Crunch, here is my 'recipe':
Pour Bran Flakes into bowl about 1/2 full. Add Special "K" and Frosties(equivalent to Frosted Flakes in the USA), in equal portions to make up the other half. Sprinkle bits of muesli and tons of raisins. Voila! You have a close approximation of Raisin Bran Crunch! And it only took you 5 products in the Netherlands!
It sounds ridiculous, but I miss cereal so much. I probably should not admit this online, but when we drive to Belgium and hit Carrefour I stock up on things like Golden Grahams, *almost like honey nut* Nestle Cheerios, and other sugar cereals. I know I shouldn't, but when I see things I can't get here in the Netherlands, it is a total impulse buy. On a related note, when we are in the USA and near a Dunkin Donuts, we have to stop and indulge. When we lived in the USA we rarely went to Dunkin Donuts! But now that we can't get it, we crave it!
Speaking of cereal, I'd like to end this post with a review of Cheerios-like cereals. Above, you see my favorite, Honey Nut Cheerios(imported) with the closest approximation here in my grocery-shopping area of Europe (Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany), Nestle Cheerios. If you look closely, you can actually see the coating of sugar on the Nestle Cheerios, which makes sense since they are quite crunchy. The HN Cheerios even seem to have more holes (air pockets?) which makes them less crunchy and results in a lovely 'pop' in your mouth. Don't get me started about the Dutch version of Cheerios, called "Loops". 
The only way to describe Loops is that they are rocks masquerading as food. If I thought the Nestle Cheerios were 'crunchy' then the Loops are 'tooth-breakers'. Additionally, it is impossible to find cereal for kids here that has a low sugar level like regular Cheerios. When my daughter was little, I imported regular Cheerios with regularity because I just couldn't imagine a 12 month old not eating Cheerios! Unfortunately, now that she is two years old, she finally noticed the difference between my Nestle Cheerios and the low-sugar imported from the USA ones she was eating and now asks for "Belgian cereal". It totally cracks me up when I hear her say that.


  1. Funny! I found your site 9 months later while searching for 'Cheerios' online because I also live in The Netherlands and I am craving my childhood favorite. I found an expensive box of Nestle Multi-Grain Cheerios at a British shop and decided that was as close as I was going to get to original General Mills Cheerios until family members came over from the States to visit me. I purchased a box, rushed home to pour in a bowl with a splash of milk and YOW! The sweetness burned my throat and made my teeth ache. It was awful! I felt cheated but even more determined to get a yellow box of the original stuff from the States. Glad to see that I am not alone on this matter. Ah, the things we take for granted.

    1. At least when we visit the US a box of Cheerios isn't too heavy to bring back. The amount of sugar in cereals here really surprises me, though, because otherwise the Dutch eat pretty healthy. Family and friends are always asking me what they can bring me when they visit- Cheerios! Whole-grain Goldfish crackers! Yep. Seems ridiculous, but there is no good alternative here. Thanks for your comment!

  2. I was born and raised in Portugal. And Cheerios was always my favorite cereals to eat, but about 6 years ago I moved to Canada, where they also have Cheerios available. But I find them not as tasty or good as the ones in Portugal. I don't know if they do a different recipe there but they are way better tasting. They advertise it as "honey and oat" cereal. No "nut". So, when I eat the Honey Nut Cheerios here, I always add extra honey to the milk and I still don't like how they taste. It's very disappointing