McDonald's has kicked off 2011 with a truly timely launch: the nationwide rollout of its Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, just in time to capitalize not only on New Year's resolutions but also a tidal wave of an oatmeal craze.
It was nearly a year ago when we first got wind that the world's largest fast-food chain was toying with oatmeal, testing it in select markets like Baltimore and Washington DC. Apparently, it was well-received, because last Monday the company began offering it countrywide, and oatmeal became the chain's first new permanent breakfast item in two years.
The McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal boasts 100 percent natural whole-grain oats, light cream, and brown sugar, and fresh red and green apples, dried cranberries, and two types of raisins as toppings.
Each bowl is prepared upon request and can be ordered with or without brown sugar. The offering, which goes for $1.99, is available all day.
The oatmeal turned out well-cooked, and the brown sugar was evenly distributed throughout. It was slightly on the sweet side, although not overwhelmingly so. Here's the good news: since each bowl is individually prepared, it's easy to order oatmeal without brown sugar, light cream, or apples. You can even calculate the nutritional value based on your custom order.
Our only complaint came in the form of the apples, which tasted somewhat off in flavor and in texture. They were mysteriously cardboard-like and didn't possess any of the natural sweetness that apples tend to have. (Perhaps that's because we noticed the "fresh" apples came out of a plastic packet.) And a close analysis revealed that, unlike store-bought instant oatmeal, the ingredient list contains items like modified food starch — as well as no maple syrup (something that the state of Vermont is already after).
Nevertheless, the oatmeal's a welcome healthy addition to the McDonald's all-day menu, and one that I hope other fast-food establishments will soon follow. If you've tried them, what did you think?