Crunch Madness Preview: The Cereal Region


Jack Hoover

A bowl of cereal. Photo courtesy of Evan Amos/Wikimedia Commons.

Usually when March rolls around, people across the country can be seen taking quick breaks from school and work to see how their favorite competitors are doing. Experts discuss at length whether the committee got it right when deciding who made the tournament and who didn’t make the cut. And millions fill out their brackets in the hopes that this year they can get the perfect bracket—or at the very least finally beat the grandparent who fills theirs out by flipping a coin.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic sweeping across the country and the world, however, it seemed that this March would be bracket-less … until MavRadio entered the picture.

“In the true spirit of bracket season, our staff is filling the void of no Big Dance by deciding the best snack ever!!” MavRadio tweeted on March 23, announcing the Crunch Madness tournament, a bracket with crunchy competition and bold flavor like we’ve never seen.

The competition is ready to start, and voters are taking to Twitter and Instagram to root for their teams. It’s time to take a deep dive into all the snacks that made the field and see who’s got the best chance of making it to the Final Four this year.

This is Crunch Madness.

Not a lot is expected out of the Cereal Region this year. While there are a number of solid snacks in the region, there are few that seem they might have a shot at winning it all. For many of the teams here, the ceiling seems to be a run to the Final Four, but no further.

One snack that has half a prayer at going further this year is No. 1 seed Lucky Charms. An undeniably strong cereal, there are still doubts about Lucky Charm’s ability to hang with the elite snacks, such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Lay’s Original. To even to get to that point, they’ll have to get past the No. 16 seed Golden Grahams, but that is expected to be a formality.

Don’t feel ashamed if you’ve gotten the No. 8 seed Fruit Loops and No. 9 seed Apple Jacks mixed up before. From the top of the box to the bottom, these are two incredibly similar types of cereal. There should be one differentiating factor in this matchup however: the amount of flavors. While Apple Jacks only has two different colors and Fruit Loops has six, all of Fruit Loop’s loops have the same flavor: froot, which Kellog’s describes as “a blend of fruit flavors.” Apple Jacks’ two distinct flavors of apple and cinnamon could be what sets it apart.

The No. 5 seed Cap’n Crunch and the No. 12 seed Life are two cereals that have never done anyone wrong. In a fairly even matchup that feels more like an 8/9 pairing than a 5/12 one, both these cereals are competitors that fans will be sad to see go home. They were never the zestiest cereals, but by gosh were they reliable. Either cereal could win this and it won’t feel like an upset.

The “Chocolaty versus Fruity” debate has worked its way into the Cereal Region, as the matchup between the No. 4 seed Reese’s Puffs and No. 13 seed Trix will be a prime example of that battle. On the one hand, you’ve got chocolate (and peanut butter) flavored orbs, while on the other you have fruit flavored orbs. There could hardly be a more perfect battle between fruit and chocolate. This will be Reese’s Puffs contest to lose however, as to quote an anonymous General Mills songwriter: “Peanut butter, chocolate. Great when separate, but when they combine, they make the morning time epic.”

It feels that to some extent the committee ranked the No. 6 seed Cheerios so highly this year due to their name recognition, rather than to their actual strength of flavor. Certainly, Cheerios are a heart-healthy part of a balanced breakfast, but is that really what you’re concerned about when you’re choosing a snack? No. 11 seed Cocoa Puffs will have their mouths watering at the possibility of a very real upset here.

An argument could be made for the No. 3 seed Cinnamon Toast Crunch being ranked as high as No. 1 this year. Instead though, the committee gave them their current seeding and a much more difficult path to the Final Four. One upside for Cinnamon Toast Crunch is that their first round paring, No. 14 Raisin Bran, could have been a 16 seed any other year. It should be an easy first round for Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Keep a tally of the result for whenever a fruity snack meets a chocolate snack in the tournament this year, as the results at the end could prove quite telling. There’s yet another such matchup here in the Cereal Region, as No. 7 seed Fruity Pebbles take on the No. 10 seed Cocoa Rice Krispies. There is some debate as whether or not Cocoa Rice Krispies should have even made the tournament this year, as some felt that Cocoa Pebbles were more deserving of being the chocolaty rice representative this year. Regardless, Cocoa Rice Krispies got the bid. It’ll be a close matchup here that could go either way.

A solid contender if there ever was one, the No. 2 seed Frosted Flakes looks like a cereal that has the makings of going on a deep run. It’s satisfyingly sugary, isn’t unnecessarily complex and can be enjoyed at all times of the day. In short, they’re great. The No. 15 seed Corn Pops may be an underrated cereal, but that doesn’t mean that Frosted Flakes still won’t crush them under foot. Or under paw? Either way, expect Frosted Flakes to advance.