The Cereal Quest: Day 8 – Alpen’s Debut

Hello.

Today was a day I was dreading, I don’t want to dwell on history but the 2 previous times I have had Alpen I have fainted, my body does not agree with it.  Genuinely I am putting myself at risk having it, my wife had previously banned me from having it for the last few years and is only lifting the ban for the quest.  She is awesome.

On a side note I was pleasantly surprised to find that yesterday 3 people from Holland read Day 7 and 16 from America so ‘hallo’ and ‘hello’ (again).

Anyway for those less experienced in the world of Alpen Muesli let me try and explain it in the best way I can.  Essentially a lot of things that are individually pointless, wheat flakes, rolled oats (who rolls oats?), raisins, hazelnuts and almonds, are chucked together with a mysterious cream coloured powder (which doesn’t appear to be in the ingredients list and doesn’t seem to ever be questioned) and magically work really well together to create something useful, much like hair.

Now as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and what a great first impression you get from a lovely box of Alpen:

Just look at that nice bowl brimming full of muesli goodness, I found a bowl of similar size to help give a bit of perspective.  Then I saw this on the back of the box:

Thats right, “this pack contains approximately sixteen 45g servings”, amazing, 16 of those servings on the front of the box, I hear you say…….think again, I measured out 45g, lets see what that really looks like…..

Take time to compare the serving on the front of the box and then the real 45g serving in my bowl.  I know, disappointing.

But as for my quest, how did it taste in comparison to Weetabix?  It tasted like I had never eaten flavour before, amazing, I don’t care that they trick you on the box, I couldn’t give a monkeys, I love the taste (albeit rushed, not due to excess sogginess, due to my daughter trying to get them) the texture.  Best off all up until the time of me writing this (6.20pm whilst my daughter watches ‘In the Night Garden’, which if anyone can explain the storyline please feel free to) I have not fainted.  Not fainting today makes me feel like I have climbed mountains (maybe the Alps), to quote a song that I can’t be bothered to Google “what a feeling!”.

The Cereal Quest: Day 7 – Farewell Weetabix with Pie Chart and Graphs!

Well it’s been an emotional start to The Cereal Quest with Weetabix week and with 4 more Weetabix consumed today it came to an end, ironically I found out a clever little method of stopping them going soggy, pour milk in the bowl first and then once in just drizzle the top with milk, you get at least an extra 15 seconds on the clock to eat them.   Typical on the last serving, although still too much of a rush in my opinion.

Here are my final statistics for Weetabix.
Cereal Cost:  £2.17
Servings per Box: 12
Cost per Serving: 18p
Pros – Adaptability, cheap cost per serving, heatable.
Cons – Can get tedious, have to be rushed as they get very soggy, wheat based cereals aren’t great for IBS but their are worse out there, they are very fragile.

Here is a pie chart to explain my biggest bug bear, their fragility:

Now lets put that in context:

As you can clearly see it is easier to survive getting shot, getting struck by lightning or even a plane crash than it is to remove Weetabix from their packet.  Fact.

Analysis:  At times I like Weetabix but at times I want to punch them, except that wouldn’t do any good because by the time I think to punch them they would have turned in to a mushy mess and the impact will be minimal.

Tomorrow is my first day with my arch nemesis, Alpen for The Cereal Quest, my boss purchased a box for me today, as a thank you for purchasing him some Wild Boar Sausages from a local butchers, but that is by the by.  I have already made a massive discovery, but you will have to wait until tomorrow to find out (pause for excitement……………………no, longer than that…………OK now feel free to close this page).

 

Day 6 – Weetabix Email Reply and Next Cereal Chosen….

So this morning as standard I got up and enjoyed my 2 Weetabix, quickly.  Again I had the problems of biscuit crushing getting them out the pack but sprinkled with a light coating of sugar tasted OK.  Then as I arrived at work I got this email, from Weetabix themselves!

Dear Mr Botto
Many thanks for contacting us via the Weetabix website.
As you’ve spotted, we’ve made the decision to change the inner wrapper permanently to paper from the old plastic wrapper.
We took the decision to change after trialling the new paper in selected packs of Weetabix. A lot of our customers fed back on the change and the majority loved the new wrapper which is why we made the change permanent.  
We wanted to create a new wrapper which works really well for the product, but which also gives customers like you the easiest and most practical packet to open in the morning.
On the question of releasing the biscuits from the wrap, I personally open one end flap and flip each biscuit on its side with my finger inside the wrapper, rather than trying to push them out of the wrap. This seems to work, and prevents any tears and breakages. Another way is to open one end of the wrapper then work down the side seam revealing one biscuit at a time. The paper can then be folded or clipped to keep the remaining biscuits fresh.
Good luck with your cereal quest. I hope the attached are of interest.
Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. 

Kind regards
Paul Blomley 
Consumer Services Manager 
Weetabix Food Co.”

Here is one of the attachments they have sent me:
Great ways to enjoy Weetabix

I, like you probably are excited at the fact he used the word ‘reveaI’ to describe the process of something normally regarded as mundane, it sounds more exciting saying ‘reveal’. And I know what you are thinking, how are you going to be able to try all of them?  You must be near the end of the box?  You are sensible to think that (congratulations) but, as you can see from here, there are plenty of varieties that I will encounter on my quest!

And if that wasn’t enough here is a list that the kind people of Weetabix also sent me of their products that I can try: Weetabix Product range unbelievably there are flipping loads! Add to this Kelloggs, Nestle, Jordans and more and you can see the size of the quest.

Tomorrow I will purchase my next cereal and I can exclusively reveal that, as chosen by AFC Bournemouth legend (word that is heavily overused but is absolutely appropriate in this case) Steve Fletcher (I once went to a Bournemouth game with a picture of his face cleverly sellotaped to the front of some sunglasses, it looked great, I imagine), he has chosen……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
SCROLL DOWN SLOWLY TO BUILD UP EXCITEMENT AND TENSION OR JUST DO IT QUICKLY IF QUITE FRANKLY TODAYS POST HAS BEEN LONG ENOUGH ALREADY
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

………………….

….Alpen Original (yes 2 Weetabix products in a row), this is both exciting (as Fletch chose it) and scary as on two previous occasions I have had Muesli I have fainted due to it.  That is commitment!

Until the morrow!

P.S – A Big Thank You for to Fletch and Weetabix for getting involved!

 

 

Day 5

Today was a sad day, before I left for work Mum phoned me to say that Fonzie (our 18 year old cat) had been hit by a car again, I went round and sadly he was too injured, he had to be put down.  We have had him for his whole life, he has bought joy and laughter to us as kids and recently to my baby girl so it is extremely sad.  Rest in Peace Fonzie.

Weetabix email update:  Still no reply from Mr or Mrs Weetabix.

On to todays update.  I as ever had to quickly rush my Weetabix this morning to avoid them going soggy, they did a job but were not exciting, much like stamps.  I then realised I had left my new clever bowl at work, not so clever.  This meant taking my 2 extremely fragile Weetabix’s in a sandwich bag, I arrived at work to find I had now got 1 and a half Weetabix’s and crumbs.  Weetabix, like me on our year 6 trip to Chessington World of Adventures don’t travel well.

It’s rare that I am nervous to eat cereal but as promised today I was trying Hayley’s suggestion, Weetabix with raspberry yoghurt, which in her words “taste’s great”, her words.  I prepared myself, I bought Raspberry Yop, it is as milky a raspberry yoghurt as I could find.  I sat down calmly and tried to approach it without any assumptions of it being horrible and poured it on.  It looked very unappetising, if there was to only be one good thing about this (and there was) it was that the Weetabix did not absorb the yoghurt, I crunched my spoon in to it and took a bite…….it was horrible, texture wise, flavour wise, looks wise and taste wise (which is similar to flavour wise).  I stopped short of finishing it by about 1/4 of a Weetabix, how I managed to eat that much bemuses me now, it made me feel sick.  I like Weetabix and I like Yop, but in the same way I also like lasagne and jelly tots, wouldn’t mix them together.  Absolutely awful.  Yoghurt should not be crunchy.

I must nearly be at the end of the packet, then onwards and upwards to something nicer!

 

 

Day 4 – A letter to Weetabix

Today I knew I had a hectic day at work lined up, I wanted to stroll around laughing at other colleagues who were struggling whilst I was still on top of my game saying “ah ha I am still going strong because I’ve had my Weetabix!”.  To be honest we were that busy that that never happened, although the clever witty line is still up there, maybe I could use it tomorrow.  Today I used my new piece of cereal quest apparatus (view Twitter for pics) it is a bowl, with a screw top container for milk and a built in spoon, using it meant I had Weetabix for both breakfast and lunch, unfortunately (sorry Hayley) I didn’t get to the shop for raspberry yoghurt so will have to try that tomorrow as I was simply too busy (see above).  My traditional Weetabix (4 in total) today though did feel good, no side effects, maybe my stomach is hardening to them.  But my love for Weetabix went downhill when  I had seen on their box it says it has newly designed packaging, which is madness as it is still impossible not to crush them!  I was a bit annoyed by this, so I wrote them the following email which at this time of writing I have had no reply from:

“Dear Mr/Mrs Weetabix (never quite sure of cereals gender),

I have recently embarked on a quest to try and rate every breakfast cereal box by box, this is going to take me years so I thought I would try Weetabix first as it is a traditional classic. I am writing pros, cons, side effects, how many ‘actual’ portions you get, adaptability (in which Weetabix does very well) and much more, I am writing a daily diary which can be found via Twitter @thecerealquest. I am writing to you because I have seen on your box you have a ‘New easy-open paper wrap’, I, like a lot of people remember your cellophane wrap and am grateful, honestly I am for the new paper wrap. However, the biggest issue when it comes to Weetabix is surely the problem of poor innocent Weetabix’s getting crushed by peoples thumbs whilst trying to get them out of the paper or cellophane wrap. Is their a trick to it? Am I missing something? I would say on average when trying to get 2 whole Weetabix’s I tend to only get 1 and 7/8′ths. This means that per box I am missing out on average 3 whole biscuits.

Maybe you might be able to help me?

On the plus you have got to have one of the most adaptable cereals around, hot, cold, dry with jam and butter, yoghurt (apparently although in my honest opinion this sounds hideous, but I am going to try it).

Have you got any other serving suggestions?

Please if you get the time before I finish the box and move on to another cereal let me know a tip on how to not crush the Weetabix’s with my oathish fingers.

It also dawned on me whilst standing in Sainsburys (a Sainsburys which quite frankly was a mess and looked like the location of products had been plucked out of a massive hat at random, genuinely condensed milk was above the frozen peas, you work it out!) that you have so many variations of Weetabix, do you have any more variations in the pipelines, as this may effect the order in which my quest cereals are consumed?

Best regards,
Phil Botto”.

I eagerly await their reply, and with my new lunch bowl I am rattling through them, will be on the next cereal in no time.  If you want to choose my next cereal just get in touch.  I want this quest to be interactive.

Good day to you!

 

Day 3 – Fish Don’t Die

Today my wonderful wife let me have a lie in, I was awoken quite late by my daughter saying Daddy and smiling about 2 inches from my face, this set me in a much more positive mood for todays round of Weetabix.

Today was the day I try my Nans Weetabix method, dry with butter and jam (see today’s earlier pics) they were OK. Not awful, a bit on the dry side but you couldn’t have them without a drink. Isla my daughter won’t let us eat with her in the room unless she has some, this morning she didn’t disappoint, she took the bait and the bait was dry Weetabix with jam and butter.

Today was also my mums birthday. We met up with family and went out for a meal, highlights from which included my sister (who according to law is an adult) told me that fish don’t die, she also ordered a goats cheese tart and didn’t eat the goats cheese, she has many issues. Whilst at the meal there was a slight upset stomach issue, the sort of issue that is bought on solely by excess consumption of wheat and not by a curry eaten the night before. I blame Weetabix and always will.

Tomorrow will see yet another method of eating Weetabix tried out thanks to Hayley for suggesting raspberry yoghurt. I have never had cereal with yoghurt, for me it feels dirty, like what imagine being a Leeds fan would be like, or indeed an owner of a petrol station.

Tomorrow will also introduce a wonderful new invention to help speed up the quest….

Day 2

I am already particularly bored of Weetabix and will make sure the next cereal I go for will be a more exciting one. I can cope with the taste at least in the short term but (hence the quest) but with cold Weetabix in my opinion it has to be eaten in a rush while there is still a bit of life in them, before they turn ultra soggy, Weetabix biscuits are wimps, they are to the cereal world what Rich Teas are to dunking, you have to get in there quick before they keel over. This morning 2 Weetabix were eaten in 46 seconds, now compare that to say a bowl of Frosties which I would suggest average portion time would be around 4-5 minutes and you can probably understand my frustrations. I might try convincing my 17 month old girl that they are yummy by asking if she wants some ‘Wheat(said quietly and fast) BISCUITS (said loudly)’ in the same sort of tone as I might say “would you like a doggy?’. I would have to help her with the packaging, I am a cereal packaging opening expert and find it hard and she still struggles with the concept of socks.

On a side note today in a cafe my daughter pointed at an old bearded man sat on a table near us and started making monkey noises. This was a little awkward and why we can’t go to watch football.

Now as previously discussed one plus point for Weetabix is their adaptability so tomorrow I am going to try something new, my Nan most mornings used to have dried Weetabix with butter and jam or marmalade, saying that my Nan was and still is the only person who I have known of who used her washing machine as a storage area for bread, but tomorrow I will give the butter jam combo a go. My Nan was an incredible woman so she must have known what she was doing.

Right I am off for a curry (which hopefully doesn’t distort my ‘side effects ‘ results).

We shall see tomorrow…

 

Day 1 – In the beginning…

So today I started the quest, I opened up my box of 24 ‘biscuits’, and picked up the inner packet (of 12, there are two of these per box)  I opened carefully and squeezed the top two out, unfortunately this was tricky and the 2nd one down got crushed by my oathish hands so I was left with one whole one and one broken.  With most cereals this would be frustrating, however although this is a big downside, it creates an opportunity, you see Weetabix can be heated, so I poured on some milk, I also sprinkled generously, like a child sprinkling glitter on pre pritt-sticked paper, half a spoon of sugar and chucked it in the microwave for 80 seconds on full power.  This allowed me to make a cup of tea which is always a bonus.  Ordinarily I do not like soggy cereal but this being like a hot wheat based mush with sugar on top seemed to work, I removed it from the microwave and tucked in.  It was good, but like Christmas day it was over too quick.  Next came another problem, microwaved Weetabix mush is a pain to wash up, it sticks really bad.  Once washed up I was ready to start the day, albeit with wheaty breath.  Now as an IBS sufferer I know all to well the dangers of wheat based cereals, but I have to take risks, today proved to be dangerous, at work I spotted that we were out of toilet roll, then I panicked, I realised that once I need to go I am going to have to drive to Tesco to use their toilets, very soon after I was in the filthy dirty Vauxhall Zafira, I parked appaulingly, mainly because I pulled into my space but some woman from the car in the space in front couldn’t see an 8 foot long cube of dirty metal coming and decided to access her boot, my body was not in the right frame of mind to wait for her to put her bags in the boot so I got as close as I could to her without nudging her in to her boot (she still didn’t see me!) and put the handbrake on, turned off the car and got out, the car was sticking out by about a metre, the sort of parking you would usually associate with spoilt people or Waitrose shoppers, but I didn’t care, I didn’t have time to, I sprinted through the car park like a 2 legged gazelle, I ran in to Tesco’s at a similar speed to that of thieves running out,  past the café, and in to the loos, not a pleasant experience, but got there just in the knick of time, not a great start for Weetabix.