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Is Holy Crap cereal milking the hype?

This article appeared in The Standard, St. Catharines on November 24, 2010 by Julie Greco

On Thursday afternoon, I was able to accomplish a nearly impossible task: to track down some Holy Crap cereal. It's perhaps no coincidence that this task of sampling this vegan-friendly cereal befell upon me, the office vegetarian. And, I must admit, with a catchy name like that, I was curious.

Despite — or perhaps, partly because of — the fact that it has excrement in its name, this gluten-free, lactose free, vegan cereal has been causing quite a stir since it appeared on Dragon's Den last week.

Not only has its TV appearance incited what was perhaps the quickest investment ever made in the show's history by Jim Treliving, of Boston Pizza fame, it's also gotten nods from O, The Oprah Magazine, and Dr. Oz. Packed with Omega-3s, Omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fibre and antioxidants, its healthful properties and acclaimed great taste apparently has the masses lined up, willing to dish out almost $11.50 a pop for a 225 gram pouch.

[image id="958" size="large" alt="Jason Sebeslev of the Peanut Mill"]

Here in St. Catharines, Jason Sebeslev owner of The Peanut Mill, hasn't been able to keep it on the shelves. I found that out first-hand as I sought to get a taste of the cereal Thursday morning to see if it lives up to its name. The Peanut Mill, one of few known stores in the province to carry Holy Crap. It's stocked the product since October but demand really picked up speed last week after the Dragon's Den episode aired, Sebeslev tells me. The phone is ringing off the hook with callers who are desperately seeking the stuff. "We've had about 100 calls since last week and a lot of people are calling from out of town to get some," he tells me. Sebeslev admits he's never sampled the cereal himself. He also points out they have other similarly healthy cereals in the store, many gluten-free and lactose-free products as well.

"For some reason, people have recently gravitated toward this one," he says, chalking up to its catchy name and TV publicity. Unfortunately for me and everyone else seeking "the world's most amazing breakfast cereal," as it states on the box, the store is sold-out. "We won't have any more in until tomorrow." When he's able to track down an already opened package from his mother and slips it into my hands, I feel like I'm sporting SillyBandz at a Justin Bieber concert — like I'm the envy of the health food store.

While scoring a pouch of the cereal seemed like an adventure in itself, now my real task was ahead of me: sampling it. Unlike regular cereal, which you heap into a bowl, a Holy Crap serving is only two tablespoons. It can be mixed with four tablespoons of the milk of your choice — almond, soy, hemp or regular — combined with yogurt, or sprinkled on granola. I was psyched as I mixed up my portion with vanilla almond milk and left it to sit for about five minutes, as the package instructs.

But when I looked down at the lumpy medley of organic chia, hulled hemp hearts, organic buckwheat, organic strawberries, organic raisins, apple bits and organic cinnamon Thursday afternoon, the novelty of having the prized cereal in my possession wore off quickly.

I faced my personal Fear Factor moment. Luckily for me, the cereal tastes much better than it looks. In spite of its spongy consistency, I rather enjoyed its sweet and fruity cranberry apple flavour. In this newsroom however, I may have been alone.

Two others who also voluntarily sampled the cereal, did not seem to share that sentiment. Are my vegetarian taste buds so different than everyone else's? Sure, Holy Crap didn't exactly bowl me over. It wasn't what I'd call a killer cereal but — in my mind, at least — it was hardly a cereal killer.

Like others who are no to strangers to ferrous gluconate supplements, I really welcomed the fact that I was getting 13% of my daily recommended iron in just a few bites. And my blender could attest to the fact that I've definitely had much less appetizing and less delicious pills to swallow in the name of better nutrition.

There is one group of people sure to celebrate the product — those who would appreciate its ultra-high fibre contents. With 23% of the daily recommended fibre intake in just a couple of tablespoons, they'll probably shout its name from the rooftops.

And, sometimes, the name just about says it all.

 

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