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McDonald's Serves Oatmeal: Terrible or Edible?

McDonald's enters the oatmeal business

N. GalutenMcDonald's enters the oatmeal business

Fast food restaurants love adding new items to their menus, and then promoting them to the point at which every single person in the country is aware that KFC has replaced bread with fried chicken. (Does anyone else remember the Tracy Jordan Meat Machine?)

But while Del Taco has added biscuit sandwiches to their breakfast menu, McDonald's decided to start offering something which could, dare we say, be considered healthy. Yes, McDonald's now serves oatmeal. Actually, they are calling it "Fruit & Maple Oatmeal," which has gotten them into a bit of a dispute with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, because it contains no actual maple product. But we, being committed masochists, decided to go to McDonald's to see how the stuff actually tastes.

The oatmeal costs $1.99, and is a reasonable portion for a light breakfast -- though we get the feeling that most customers don't order that as their entire breakfast. We came to that conclusion when we ordered the oatmeal, then received a look of shock from the woman behind the counter, who furrowed her brow and asked, "Is that all?" We assured her that it was, and she went on to prepare the oatmeal (without even needing to step into the "kitchen"), by opening a packet, pouring it into a cup, adding hot water, fruit toppings, and some light cream.

The oatmeal container referred to its contents as a "breakfast experience," a phrase which grew slightly more disturbing the more we thought about it. Nonetheless, we removed the lid, readying ourselves for a cardboard cup filled with a thick, spackling paste-like substance, topped with brown, spongy apple chunks.

But the oatmeal was, it turns out, wholly edible. In fact, we have absolutely eaten worse versions at hotel breakfast buffets. The apples were surprisingly crisp, as advertised, and while the oatmeal was a bit watery, and perhaps a tad too sweet (though it can be ordered without the brown sugar), it was still better than most of the instant oatmeal packets found in office pantries across the country. It even tasted a little like maple.

So there was no oatmeal apocalypse. And at two dollars and 290 calories, all while containing actual fruit and whole grains, one could argue that the world is a slightly better place with McDonald's selling a cheap, more healthful alternative to hash browns and pancakes. Of course, we didn't see anyone else in the restaurant actually eating the oatmeal, but we suppose it's a start.