My favorite kind of taste test to conduct is a face-off between two like items, whether they're sausage breakfast muffins or fruit and nut milk chocolate bars. So when a kit arrived from Better Oats challenging me to compare its oatmeal to that of Quaker Oats, of course I couldn't pass it up. Our taste-off's surprising conclusion, and other observations, when you keep on reading.

Since both of the oatmeal packets in the taste challenge kit were apple-cinnamon flavored, I was, quite fittingly, able to compare apples to apples. For Quaker's instant oatmeal — the breakfast standard in this country — all I needed was to stir in half a cup of boiling water; a minute later, I was eating a liquidy bowl of oats studded with sprinkles of cinnamon.

Better Oats had less instantaneous results; it called for half a cup of water as well, but needed to be microwaved for two minutes. The finished product couldn't have looked more different: it was darker, dense with grains, and not soupy at all, with visible chunks of apples.


PartySugar and I put our palates to work. Neither of us loved the Better Oats — its consistency was so thick and chewy, I felt a little bit like a horse eating it — but we were shocked to discover how artificial Quaker's apple cinnamon tasted after following it with a bite of Better Oats. In the end, I'll still take a bowl of Irish steel-cut oats over either any day, but if I had to pick, I'd reach for the Better Oats. What's your favorite oatmeal?