Pancakes from a Can

Organic Batter Blaster

By: Batter Blaster

I Paid: $4.39 for an 18-ounce can (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 1stars


Marketing: 5stars

The marketing success of Organic Batter Blaster, the pancake batter that comes in an aerosol can, is self-evident. The Internet is studded with write-ups. Most concentrate on the novelty of the delivery system (fair enough); nitpicking about the “organic” label (seriously, what organic-food devotee is going to purchase pancakes you spray out of an aerosol can, no matter what?); or how people really should just make their own pancake batter and then store it in a rinsed-out plastic ketchup bottle.

Notably lacking: candid and detailed assessments of the pancakes themselves.

The delivery system is as effortless as you’d hope: Heat up a pan, then spend all of five seconds blasting a circle of puffy batter into whatever size and shape of pancake you’d like to eat. Rinse the nozzle, replace the cap, and re-refrigerate the bottle. Easy as advertised. Highly entertaining.

The problem comes after the pancakes have been cooked and put onto the plate. They taste … defeated. There’s a flat, mealy, almost sawdusty flavor to them. They’re neither the big, fluffy buttermilk pancakes that are the Midwestern mass-market standard; nor the thin, chewy, elegant pancakes that true pancake mavens crave. They somehow manage to combine the failings of both alternatives: They lack the fun volume and fluffiness, while also lacking flavor and chewy charm.

Smart Start Strawberry Oat Bites

By: Kellogg’s

I Paid: $3.75 for a 14.7-ounce box (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4stars


Marketing: 3stars

This Mini-Wheats-esque strawberry oat cereal is the latest gambit on the part of the Smart Start cereal franchise. These are the folks who conceived of the brilliant ruse of creating a “health” cereal resembling a vitamin-fortified version of Sugar Smacks. “Mmm—so healthy … and yet so deliciously sweet!” The trick behind making Smart Start taste so sweet, it turns out, is adding a bunch of sugar.

(Sugar in one cup of Smart Start = 14 grams; Corn Pops = 14.8 grams; Frosted Mini-Wheats = 10 grams.)

Laudably, Strawberry Oat Bites cereal has 7 grams of sugar per serving, which represents a real step forward for the brand.

Moreover, it’s a nice compromise between a wheaty/oaty health cereal and Smart Start in terms of taste. The strawberry flavor evokes the artificially sweet punch of Pop-Tarts, but it’s far more restrained than you might fear.

The actual oat bites soften nicely with the addition of milk, and are pleasantly munchable after a minute or two of soaking. (It’s worth noting that the strawberry filling also turns the milk pink, which may or may not be a problem depending upon your gender and level of insecurity.)

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.