14 October, 2010

Captain Crunch Shenanigans

Cap'n Crunch was my favorite cereal when I was a kid.  It still is, though I don't eat it very often these days, being a fat old guy who's trying somewhat successfully to shed some pounds.  

And then I found Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Treasures.  The front of the box promises that Crunch Treasures has "1/2 the sugar of regular Cap' Crunch."  Sounds good, right?  A lot of the flavor in Cap'n Crunch comes from brown sugar, so I figured that maybe Quaker cut back on the regular sugar - maybe replaced it with Splenda or something - to cut the sugar.  

Ha.  Maybe not.  Lynnafred and I compared the Nutrition Facts on a box of regular Cap'n Crunch with those on a box of Crunch Treasures, and what we found was pretty surprising:

By boldly announcing on the front of the box that Treasures contains half the sugar of regular Cap'n Crunch, Quaker is trying to make the consumer believe that Treasures is somehow better for you than regular Cap'n Crunch - as if that's possible with sugar-bombs like the Cap'n Crunch family of junk food.

Read down the labels with me:   Per serving, Treasures actually has more calories than regular Crunch (120 vs. 110.) Treasures is more heavily salted, too - 60mg more sodium.  But the biggest surprise is in the carbohydrate load.  Treasures really does has half the sugar (6g vs. 12g) but astonishingly it has almost double the "other carbohydrates!"  The end result is that Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Treasures has 26g of carbs compared to the original's 23g.  Half the sugar, yes, but the carb total is what really counts.

So, Quaker is totally full of shit with their marketing here.  Also, notice that the "$1.00 Pack" in the photo above contains 4 servings and 3.9 ounces of Crunch Treasures, while the original Cap'n Crunch contains 6 servings and 5.5 ounces at the same price.  All this does is blur the nutritional understanding for most customers.  Using the raw numbers, we find that per ounce, these two cereals are just about the same, with Original delivering 25g of carbs per ounce and Treasures about 27g.   Now, if your unit of measurement is "1 box," you start to see a difference, due mostly to the difference in weight between the two:  the Original Cap'n Crunch would deliver 138g of total carbohydrates if you at the whole damn box, whereas the  Crunch Treasures holds 104g.  Whew.  Maths are hard, my head is going to asplode.

The Important Part - How Does It Taste?

Okay, but to hell with all that carb counting and sugar auditing shit, this is CAP'N FRIGGIN' CRUNCH we're talking about and the only metric that matters is how it tastes when we OM NOM NOM.   How does it taste?  In a word, crappy.  Treasures has just a hint of Crunch's delicious brown sugar bouquet when it's chomped dry right out of the box.  But Cap'n Crunch is meant to be eaten in milk, and Crunch Treasures completely fails here.  The sweet tastes is totally overwhelmed and washed away by the milk, leaving it tasting a little like millet-flavored cardboard.  And in a further betrayal of the Cap'n Crunch promise (Stays crunchy even in milk!) the stuff gets soggy fast.

The verdict:  A soggy and solid "Meh."  Don't waste your money.  If you're going to blow your cash and your healthy blood glucose levels, you might as well go all out and enjoy the company of original Cap'n Crunch.  Crunch Treasures are worthless.


Alan said...

Amen, Dave. Great analysis. I agree with your final verdict. If you like Capt'n Crunch, go for the original and stop reading the nutrient value. It is what it is and needs no improvement. I shudder to even think what they might have done to Sugar Pops.

Michele Hays said...

This isn't the only shenanigans they're playing: the serving sizes are different, which accounts for the increase in carbs and sodium (oddly, it also means there is considerably less than half the sugar...I wonder why they chose not to capitalize on this) There are only 4 servings in the Treasures box as opposed to 6 in the regular.

However, I'm with you - "sanitizing" food that's bad for you anyway is rarely a good choice. Better to enjoy the real thing and be aware of the consequences.

Rodzilla said...

Curious as to the differences in the ingredients list

Jeff said...

Actually, I think you guys are missing the point -- as Michelle pointed out, the serving sizes are different. Treasures has twice the recommended serving size. So it doesn't really have "almost double the 'other carbohydrates'" -- it has about half if you are going to each the same portion.

Dave said...

Jeff - Read the ounce-for-ounce comparison and you'll find that the actual carb count is almost the same regardless of the label claim about "1/2 the sugar."

Unknown said...

crunch treasures actually has half the fat of captain crunch. look at the serving size. 1-1/2 cup is double the 3/4 of crunch

Dave said...

musical mushroom: Comparing the "serving size" is invalid. 1½ cups of Treasures weigh 31g. 3/4 cup of regular Crunch weighs 27g. This is why I broke down the sugar comparison by ounce.

Anonymous said...

U forgot to read the serving number, and the fact that the serving size is higher for treasures. Treasures is definately healthier - 4dojo (youtube)

fitnesstrainer said...

The serving size of regular captain crunch is 3/4 cup. The Captain Crunch Treasures is 1 1/2 cup. That is exactly double the serving. So if you figure the Treasures to 3/4 cup (which is what is considered a serving in the regular captain crunch) it would be 60 calories, 13 grams carbs, 130mg of sodium. So if you go by the 3/4 cup size of the serving, then yes the Treasures is half. You get 1 1/2 cups DOUBLE SERVING FOR ONLY 10 CALORIES MORE.