You Got Hazelnut Latte in My Oatmeal!

Quaker True Delights Instant Oatmeal

Quaker True Delights Instant Oatmeal

I Paid: $3.89 for eight 1.41-ounce packets (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

What strange times we’re living in. Once upon a time, packets of flavored instant oatmeal were targeted mostly at kids, who—subject to the rule of moms who insisted upon some kind of a healthy breakfast—would grudgingly compromise on apple cinnamon– or brown sugar–flavored versions as an acceptable cold-weather substitute for Lucky Charms.

Now, Quaker has brought us instant oatmeal for the Sex and the City aspirational crowd. Before you head out for another joyless day of coveting overpriced luxury goods, why not put some solid food in your mouth? Quaker True Delights offers a simple way to do exactly that: Just add hot water and experience the joy of Wild Blueberry Muffin–flavored oatmeal or—brace yourself—Hazelnut Latte–flavored oatmeal.

That’s right. The once arguably sophisticated experience of the hazelnut latte has, after fully penetrating the chic rural American gas station demographic, moved on to our reconstituted breakfast porridge. Some words about the food itself: It’s actually not bad. The Hazelnut Latte flavor smells disconcertingly like an actual hazelnut latte once you add the hot water. Did I write “disconcertingly”? I meant exactly. It’s eerie. Real hazelnut bits give it a crunchy goodness if you can get over the vaguely coffeelike taste that your oatmeal has going on. Expect this cereal to be polarizing, to say the least.

Wild Blueberry Muffin does not, apparently, contain wild blueberries; the ingredient list includes “sweetened and flavored [dried] blueberries,” which may explain why the little wild blueberry–looking things do such a credible impression of the real thing. The oatmeal itself tastes as much like a muffin top as you can imagine—the flavor science deployed in both of these cereals is spookily good. Whether you cheer or deplore the victories of flavor science is a question of personal taste. Thus the mixed scores here for True Delights. You can question whether the marketing is wise, but it’s well executed. Likewise, you can question whether we really need or want blueberry muffin– or hazelnut latte–themed oatmeal, but you can’t dispute that Quaker’s done a bang-up job of making it happen.

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.