It’s been over a year and a half since I reviewed Starbucks oatmeal. Doing that review got me thinking: as a self-appointed oatmeal expert, I should review other oatmeal, as well. This was about the time that McDonald’s came out with their own version, so I wanted to try some of that. Well – I still haven’t gotten around to sampling McOatmeal. However, about a week ago I received an email from Chick-fil-A inviting me to try one of their breakfast entrées for free.* Behold! One of the choices was multigrain oatmeal. I decided it was time to don** my food critic’s hat.

* If you hurry, you may also be able to get a free breakfast at Chick-fil-A. As far as I can tell, the promotion lasts through the rest of this week. Quantities are limited.

** Every time I hear that word, I feel like decking some halls for whatever reason.

There isn’t a Chick-fil-A that is conveniently located close to my house, so this morning I took a little detour on the way to work and picked up my oatmeal.  Here are my thoughts…


What you get:

(Glass bowl not included.)

Here’s what Chick-fil-A has to say about its oatmeal

Warm & wholesome, our multigrain, steel-cut oatmeal is first slow-cooked in kettles the old-fashioned way. Anything but dry and instant, our hearty oatmeal has flax, whole wheat and buckwheat. Tasty toppings include cinnamon brown sugar, roasted mixed nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts) and dried fruit blend (cranberries, blueberries, golden raisins, cherries).

I received one cup of “Multigrain Oatmeal” in a disposable plastic container that was sturdy enough that I might save it and re-use it. Do I give bonus points to Chick-fil-A for a container that I’ll use again, or dock points for using excessive packaging that nearly everyone will just throw away? I’m not sure. Anyway… in addition to the oatmeal, I received little packets of nuts, fruit, and cinnamon and sugar.

The oatmeal:

Ok – here is something that I find interesting: the online description of this oatmeal is that it’s “slow-cooked”. Indeed, I had to wait for my oatmeal (perhaps seven minutes?) even though I was the only person in line this morning. (This is not a problem for me. I have to wait at home when I prepare my own. I’m certainly willing to wait for a good bowl of oats.) The friendly (though not entertaining) employees even said that it was being prepared fresh for me. However, being a skeptical person, I tend to believe that the slow-cooking step occurred before I arrived at the store. Nevertheless, it seemed to me that the oats were a little bit more substantial than standard quick oats (which you’ll get at Starbucks). Perhaps the preparation involved more than a simple addition of hot water.

However, I do have a complaint. I was drawn in by the claim of multigrain oatmeal and was eager to see Chick-fil-A do something creative. Alas, my hopes have been dashed. When I removed the lid from the dish, I couldn’t find anything other than oats, and a careful perusal of the ingredient list reveals the following:

… contains 2% or less of flaxseed, buckwheat flour, whole wheat flour…

Please. What they’re saying is that even if I look closely through my cup of oatmeal, I won’t be able to find  more than a teaspoon of flaxseed. That won’t get you extra points in this review. I’ll chastise you for getting my hopes up and then not meeting expectations.

The nuts:

Chick-fil-A provides a nice mix of walnuts, almonds, and pecans. Interestingly, the walnuts and pecans are glazed. When I noticed this on the package, I was sure to test them out individually (which was hard since I had already mixed everything together). Indeed, they are glazed. Alas, you probably won’t notice this unless you eat them separate from the rest of the oatmeal.

The fruits:

A slightly creative mix of cranberries, golden raisins, dried blueberries, and cherries. In the end, I’m afraid that most of the benefit is from increased diversity in texture, rather than flavor. But I was pleased with what they provided.

The sugar:

Hurrah! The sugar also includes cinnamon! Good for them. It distinguishes this oatmeal from the Starbucks variety. Now, would someone please give me a little clove, or maybe some ginger or cardamom?

Intangibles:

The intangibles seem to be somewhat intangible.

The take home message:

The oatmeal was fine; it made for a decent breakfast. The slightly above-average oats and the addition of the cinnamon make it better than the oatmeal that Starbucks serves. The “multigrain” claim turned out to be a disappointment. However, if you’re eating breakfast at Chick-fil-A, this is clearly what you want to get (since most of your other choices are fried).

To be honest, though, I’m not likely to be eating this oatmeal again. It wasn’t good enough to go out of my way to get it; there aren’t Chick-fil-A restaurants in places where I eat fast food (mostly travel plazas on interstate roads); they only serve oatmeal at breakfast (not all day); and Ordinary Spouse and I tend to avoid places with that much fried food on the menu.

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