Which Is Better: Cheerios Or The Aldi Brand?

Cheerios are a basic part of our meal repertoire, whether you're enjoying it by the bowl for breakfast or packing the dry cereal as a snack during the day. The term "Cheerio" is more than just a light-hearted British colloquialism, but of course, a delightful little O-shaped cereal made of oats, that is intended to bring cheer to your mornings. According to General Mills, the cereal was originally named "Cheerioats" when they launched in 1941, and was the first oat-based ready-to-eat cereal on the market. But the name was changed to "Cheerios" in 1945, and has remained the same since. Widely available, Cheerios come in sizes ranging from individual serving boxes to large family-sized boxes.

It's such a commonplace cereal that sometimes we hardly stop to think about the alternatives. But of course, since Cheerios are so popular, Aldi supermarket has made a comparable version of it called "Crispy Oats" under the Millville brand. As with so many popular name-brand products, Aldi has found a way to make a product so many people love, and sell it exclusively in their stores for a lower price than you'd find at normal supermarkets and retailers.

We decided to challenge our deeply ingrained ideas about Cheerios, and compare them with the Aldi brand, Crispy Oats, to see which cereal is better. We took a look at the flavor, but also the cost, sizes, and nutritional information of each cereal to see how they stacked up.

Cost and size comparison

For this part of the comparison, we bought two boxes that look like the same size. While the Crispy Oats only come in one 12-ounce size, Cheerios come in several sizes, including an 8.9-ounce size, a 12-ounce "Large Size", and an 18-ounce "Family Size". Even though we bought the two boxes that look the same, we were deceived. The Crispy Oats box has 12 ounces of cereal, while the comparably-sized box of Cheerios only contains 8.9 ounces of cereal. After looking at the two boxes a little closer, we realized the boxes are the exact same height, which is what you'd notice when staring at them on the shelf at the grocery store, but the Cheerios box is a little thinner to house less cereal.

That would have been a reasonable deception if it paid off at the register — but it didn't. The 12-ounce box of Crispy Oats only cost $1.49, whereas the 8.9-ounce box of Cheerios cost us more than double that amount, coming in at $3.29 per box before taxes. What's more, if we had picked up the box of Cheerios containing 12 ounces of cereal to equal the Crispy Oats box volume, it would have cost us over $5.00! So for the price of one 12-ounce box of Cheerios, you could be buying three and a third boxes of Crispy Oats. From a value perspective, the Crispy Oats cereal from Aldi is the clear winner.

Nutrition comparison

Turning our attention to the nutrition facts labels on the side of the boxes, we immediately noticed a few variations. The serving sizes for both cereals are one and a half cups each. But the weight of that measurement varies slightly, with Cheerios claiming that it weighs 39 grams and Crispy Oats weighing 41 grams. Now, two grams is almost a negligible difference, but the discrepancy could either be due to an actual weight difference in the cereal pieces or simply the way each cereal was measured.

Even though the serving sizes are basically the same, the Crispy Oats is packed with 160 calories, and the Cheerios are only 140 calories. This difference can almost certainly be attributed to the additional half a gram of fat, 10mg of sodium, and 1 gram of carbohydrates in the Crispy Oats. What's weird is that the Cheerios have more fiber and sugars than the Crispy Oats, but manage to have a lower overall calorie count. The vitamins and minerals section of the nutritional information varies a decent amount in both ingredients and percentages.

The ingredient lists themselves are both very short, with the first ingredient being whole grain oats. It's then followed with starch (Cheerios uses corn, Crispy Oats uses wheat). The corn starch is what keeps Cheerios gluten-free, for those following a gluten-free diet. On the other hand, the Crispy Oats have additional calcium added to the cereal, which we really like.

Taste comparison

Even though Cheerios have been around for 80 years, it's a simple cereal without a lot of frills. If you want frills, you can choose from one of the numerous additional flavors of Cheerios, or the Honey Nut version of the Crispy Oats.

In a blind taste test of each of these cereals, we couldn't immediately tell which one was which. There's an incredibly small flavor difference, that was hard to define, other than one tasted more like grains than the other. The one that tasted stronger was also ever-so-slightly crunchier. Both softened in our bowls of milk at about the same rate, and neither had turned mushy by the time we were done eating. Once the brands were revealed, we were a little surprised to find that the Crispy Oats had the stronger grain flavor and were crunchier compared to the Cheerios. But once we stopped to consider what we'd read in the ingredients lists, it makes sense that the Crispy Oats would have a stronger grain flavor since it includes wheat.

Ultimately, if we weren't tasting them side-by-side we probably would not have noticed a difference at all. If you've been eating Cheerios every single day for the last 30+ years, you might notice the difference between the two, but they're so similar that we think you'd adjust to the Aldi brand quickly after the first bowl.

Final Verdict

Since taste isn't a huge factor when it comes to choosing the winner of these two cereals, we leaned heavily on the value and nutritional aspects of the cereals to conclude who would win. We really liked that the Crispy Oats had more calcium than the Cheerios, which is something to consider for anyone trying to work more calcium into their diet. We also really like that the Cheerios are gluten-free, and have fewer calories per serving than the Crispy Oats. Nutritionally, the Cheerios upstaged the Aldi brand, but just by a fraction. With there only being a 20 calorie difference, we could easily make up the difference with a lower-calorie milk option.

While we expected the taste to make our decision for us, it was ultimately the cost of the cereal that determined the winner. We just can't ignore such a huge cost difference between the two cereals, especially for families who go through a lot of Cheerios. In the end, we'd sacrifice those extra 20 calories and even quickly adjust to the slightly different flavor in exchange for the better value and more money in our bank account. Of course, if you're following a gluten-free diet, we absolutely encourage you to go with a gluten-free cereal. But otherwise, the Aldi brand Crispy Oats is our winner!