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The GFCF Experience Product Review: Rice Krispies Gluten Free

Posted Jul 22 2011 12:47pm
I was shopping in SuperWalmart earlier this week and came upon a box of the new Rice Krispies Gluten Free - have you tried them yet?

There was a fair bit of hype surrounding the introduction of Rice Krispies Gluten Free - the original Rice Krispies is an iconic cereal that has been around for decades. I grew up with Snap! Crackle! Pop! and the always popular Rice Krispies marshmallow treats. But my kids, being GFCF, have never had the opportunity to try the original. Which, on the surface, doesn't make sense - I mean, this is rice-based cereal, and rice is GF, so why not Rice Krispies?

The answer - barley malt.

Barley of course is one of the grains that contains gluten. But why barley malt in cereal? Well, the malting process helps the grain develop enzymes that better convert starches into sugars. They also add color and flavor, which is how they are used in original Rice Krispies. Barley malt is the most popular malt additive used in the United States.

Rice Krispies Gluten Free eliminates the barley malt from the process. They also are made with whole grain brown rice. Kelloggs also uses a dedicated gluten free facility to make Rice Krispies Gluten Free.

That's good.

But how do they taste?

I tried them two ways - both with and without soy milk. I could never eat the original Rice Krispies with milk - they always seemed to get soggy too fast. But I loved eating them dry by the bowlful. So I tried some of the Rice Krispies this way. And they tasted, well, rather tasteless. And the texture can I say this delicately...seemingly stale.

I was going to say like cardboard or styrofoam, but that seems a bit harsh...

A little soy milk improved things somewhat. It was nice to hear Snap! Crackle! Pop! again. And the milk seemed to help soften the texture. But there was still a matter of the lack of taste. Adding fresh blueberries did the trick - you got the flavor of the fruit masking the blandness of the cereal.

The four harshest critics in the house - my children - all gave pretty much the same review - the lack of taste was a distinctive and significant drawback. A couple added honey and that did the trick for them.

We didn't try making Rice Krispie Treats with them, and I am curious how that would work out. The lack of taste would be masked by the sweetness of the marshmallows, but I wonder about the texture...

Here are some more reviews of the product:

The Saavy Celiac

The Gluten Free Optimist

GFCF Mommy

Li Loves David

The Final Verdict

I have mixed feelings about this product. On one hand, it's great that Kelloggs has ventured into the gluten free arena, and I hope that they will explore gluten free alternatives for their other cereals too. The retail price is pretty much the same as for original Rice Krispies, so us GFers and GFCFers are not being penalized in the wallet for needing a specialized product.

The nostalgia factor is huge too. Those of us who grew up on Snap! Crackle! Pop! will derive satisfaction just from being able to hear those sounds again. Even my son got a kick out of hearing his cereal "talk."

But then there's the taste, or rather, the lack of taste. It is really noticible unless you mask it by eating something with the cereal, like I did with the blueberries. And to me the texture was off if you were eating the cereal without milk.

This is a gluten free cereal that you will likely find, much like GF Chex cereals, in the regular cereal aisle in most supermarkets, which is wonderful for those who have limited places in their area to get specialty/organic GF cereals, like Erewhon or Barbara's.

I have another personal bias though - Envirokidz Koala Crisp. There are other GFCF brown rice crispy cereals on the market - Erewhon for example - that I cannot do a real comparison as we have rarely bought them. But Koala Crisp is another story. They are more akin to Cocoa Krispies as they are chocolate flavored, and they are more crunchy than crispy like Rice Krispies. But they taste great, and they make a great "Rice Krispie" treat.

While I paid $3.15 at SuperWalmart for the Rice Krispies Gluten Free (the suggested retail is $3.99), I can get Koala Crisp for about that price, especially in the larger ECO-pack (between $3.50 and $4.00 per 12 oz. but frequently on sale). And I personally like the texture and the taste (mmm...chocolate!) better. But again, that's my personal bias.

Have you tried Rice Krispies gluten free? Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think! Or, if you wrote your own review, please leave me a link - I will add it to this post.

And hopefully Kelloggs will continue to explore gluten free options for their other cereals. Some sort of GF Raisin Bran would be nice...

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