Harbaugh Breakfast Challenge Power Rankings
Nearly two weeks ago when Jay Harbaugh (son of Jim) was hired as a TE coach at Michigan he shared a story about when his dad had breakfast cereal with Gatorade when the family was out of milk. This, of course, is a disgusting concept but one that must be investigated to the fullest. Last week the Michigan Alumni Association wisely created what they called the Harbaugh Breakfast Challenge and put together a great video of students trying various combinations. Naturally left curious, the only thing I could do was get together another sugared cereal loving friend and try, then rank, 36 combinations. And let’s be clear upfront, almost all of these were truly awful.
This was particularly strange for me since I don’t really eat sugared cereals (Total and Crispix are my favorites) or drink Gatorade. My friend Mike who also did the tasting is a sugared cereal connoisseur and was a valuable guide on this journey. I think the last time I drank Gatorade was playing baseball in high school and let me say, what happened to Gatorade? When did it get so complicated? It was so confusing shopping for I texted a friend for help (thanks Lonnie). There are several sub-brands and it was not readily clear to me what the ‘normal’ flavors were anymore. In the end I settled on cool blue (received high marks in the Alumni Association video), lemon lime, and strawberry lemonade. I got two sampler packs of cereal and after taking out duplicates was left with the 12 you see above. So, let’s get to it shall we?
- Trix with Cool Blue – This was the second one we tried and unfortunately it was all downhill from there. We had both assumed the ‘fruit’ flavored cereals would taste best and for the most part this was true. I’m not going to start eating this for breakfast, but if you asked me to eat a bowl of it I wouldn’t protest.
- Golden Grahams with Cool Blue – Ok, I know this sounds like it would be terrible. But somehow it wasn’t. The butterscotch flavor of the cereal actually worked pretty well with the Gatorade. I’ve also never like Golden Grahams, they seem like the ugly stepchild to Cinnamon Toast Crunch, so this is a pretty big improvement on them in my eyes.
- Trix with Strawberry Lemonade – Let’s make this clear, we were both repulsed by the strawberry lemonade Gatorade. But the Trix once again swooped in to almost entirely mask the taste of the gatorade, and make for a fruity spoonful of cereal.
- Froot Loops with Cool Blue – We’ve now moved away from the combinations that tasted better than their separate components, and entered a long stretch of relative mediocrity. This was the first one we tried and it was so much sweeter than I was prepared for. Almost instantly I had a headache. This tasted like regular Froot Loops, but with a strangely bitter aftertaste.
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Lemon Lime – This combination operates on the same principle as a few above it. It tasted mostly like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, just much more uncomfortably sweet than usual.
- Cocoa Puffs with Cool Blue – We both tried this and just shrugged and said ‘OK’, because it really just tasted like Cocoa Puffs. The disgusting brownish color it turned the Gatorade (not like Cocoa Puffs in milk) cause it to not be higher, since it would have been difficult to go back for more.
- Trix with Lemon Lime – Clearly Trix was the cereal that best paired with the Gatorade. But don’t let its position as #7 fool you into thinking it was that good. We tasted this about halfway through and both agreed that we were soldiering on on principle, not because we were enjoying ourselves. So that should provide some perspective on how awful most of these combinations tasted.
- Cocoa Puffs with Lemon Lime – Two of the three Cocoa Puffs we tried were decent. These neutralized the harshness of the lime in the Gatorade but were even more alarmingly sweet than the Cinnamon Toast Crunch with lemon lime.
- Apple Jacks with Lemon Lime – When I was a kid I always thought Apple Jacks just tasted like cardboard, but like the Cocoa Puffs these effectively neutralized the lime, and the lemon taste was a decent complement to the ‘apple’ taste.
- Lucky Charms with Cool Blue – We were worried about how the marshmallows would go with the Gatorade. Turns out they were the saving grace. This combination looked like that rainbow superman ice cream. The marshmallows made this palatable, without it them it would be much much lower (keep an eye out for the plain cheerios later on to demonstrate this).
- Lucky Charms with Strawberry Lemonade – This tasted almost identical to the previous one, but even more sugary. I know I keep saying how intensely sugared these are, but it really is hard to describe unless you’ve tasted it. And I wouldn’t wish that on you, so just take my word for it.
- Apple Jacks with Strawberry Lemonade – This tasted similar to the Apple Jacks with lemon lime, but with a worse aftertaste due to the Gatorade. I should note at this point we’ve moved toward the bottom of the ones that we ranked as mediocre. And we’re just 1/3 of the way through the list. Once we hit #20 everything will be truly awful.
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Strawberry Lemonade – Even the taste masking powers of Cinnamon Toast Crunch couldn’t save this combination. The was the last of the mediocre but not truly awful combinations with strawberry lemonade.
- Golden Grahams with Lemon Lime – You know those frozen lemon pies/cakes/bars you buy made by Sara Lee or Pepperidge Farms? I’ve never had one but I imagine this is what those taste like, but worse.
- Froot Loops with Lemon Lime – I was hoping this would taste like the Trix and Lemon Lime, but it didn’t. The Froot Loops weren’t strong enough to defeat the sourness of the lime, and left you wondering why you were still doing this.
- Frosted Flakes with Cool Blue – The Frosted Flakes combinations received relatively good reviews in the Alumni Association video. Here, they were so uninteresting that we had no choice but to clump them all towards the middle. The frosted coating just intensified the taste of the Gatorade, but not in any positive way.
- Frosted Flakes with Lemon Lime – As one might expect, the corn taste did not go well with lemon lime. But the lemon lime Gatorade was far more bearable than…
- Frosted Flakes with Strawberry Lemonade – These were a slightly more terrible version of the lemon lime combination, largely because of the Gatorade taste.
- Lucky Charms with Lemon Lime – Similar to the above lucky charms combination, the marshmallows were a vital reason this isn’t lower. But despite their best efforts the marshmallows couldn’t save the taste of the regular cereal with the Gatorade.
- Honey Nut Cheerios with Cool Blue – We’re now entering the cool blue waters of truly awful combinations. The problem with the varieties of Cheerios was the flavor would come right off them and blend in this horrible concoction with the gatorade. The artificial almond taste to neither Mike’s nor my surprise was not a good thing to mix with the cool blue.
- Corn Pops with Strawberry Lemonade – Even if Aaron Paul used to do corn pops commercials, I still think these are one of the absolute worst cereals out there. Each taste battled and tried to neutralize the other. In the end we were left with a spoonful of two mild, but awful, tastes.
- Frosted Cheerios with Cool Blue – In our tasting process, this was the first of many times the word ‘wretched’ was invoked. The Frosted Cheerios were just awful. Imagine the worst cough syrup you ever had to choke down as a kid. This is 10 times worse.
- Corn Pops with Cool Blue – The Gatorade literally and figuratively highlighted the bad elements of the Corn Pops. Doesn’t exactly scream. ‘Part of a complete breakfast’.
- Cheerios with Lemon Lime – Finally we reach the regular Cheerios. Perhaps by the time we got to it our taste buds were destroyed, but we each thought this tasted like stale cool ranch Doritos.
- Frosted Cheerios with Lemon Lime – As with the previous Cheerios, the ‘frosted’ coating came right off and turned the Gatorade into this murky mixture of melancholy and processed sugar.
- Corn Pops with Lemon Lime – Mike, who unlike me likes Corn Pops, said that this “sucks the joy out of Corn Pops and replaces it with sadness’.
- Froot Loops with Strawberry Lemonade – Now we are truly descending into the awful mixtures. This was sort of like eating a moldly and slightly less chalky version of Flintstones chewable vitamins.
- Apple Jacks with Cool Blue – At first bite this actually didn’t taste that bad. And then it just nosedived. I’ve never felt that there is a way to enjoy Apple Jacks, but this is certainly not it.
- Cheerios with Cool Blue – This is what I imagine an all syrup squishy would taste like. The Cheerios absorbed some of the Gatorade liquid and left a really vile syrupy taste. It wasn’t until this point that we really understood the raw power of the gatorade.
- Honey Nut Cheerios with Strawberry Lemonade – If you’re looking for a punishment for whoever loses your fantasy football league next year, have them try this.
- Honey Nut Cheerios with Lemon Lime – Lemon Lime pairings are getting clustered towards the bottom, but not nearly as much as strawberry lemonade is about to. We came to a consensus that this must be what urinal cakes taste like.
- Golden Grahams with Strawberry Lemonade – This one made my nose tingle quite uncomfortably, sort of like when you drink soda quickly. It also had overtones of melted styrofoam.
- Cinnamon Toast Crunch with Cool Blue – Oh cool blue, you had so much promise at the start. But instead of masking the taste the cinnamon sugar joined forces with the cool blue for a vile mixture.
- Cheerios with Strawberry Lemonade – Time to run the gauntlet of strawberry lemonade terribleness. This faced the same problem as the Cheerios with cool blue, but the Gatorade was much worse.
- Cocoa Puffs with Strawberry Lemonade – Have you have had rotten yogurt and mixed it with chocolate syrup? If so, then you know what this tastes like.
- Frosted Cheerios with Strawberry Lemonade – We kept notes as we tasted. I ended up with 2.5 pages single spaced. My notes for this were relatively short, because we wanted to forget it ever happened and move on. They read, “NO. NOPE NOPE NOPE.”. It so grotesquely intensified the taste of the strawberry lemonade, which yes, as you’ll notice according to the rankings is worse than rotten chocolate yogurt.
So there you have it. Would I do this again? Of course not. I’d of course be curious to know what Coach Harbaugh’s favorite blend was, if he in fact actually ever did this. I look forward to rebuilding my positive relationship with cereal over the coming weeks. Hopefully it can forgive me.
If you made it all the way to the end, why not reward yourself by looking around the site a bit more? People seem to like the Despicable Me minion cake I made a few years ago, or maybe check out some of the many many breads I’ve made.