by Marion Nestle
Feb 22 2013

Kellogg’s Scooby-Doo: nutritionally groundbreaking?

Can something like this be nutritionally revolutionary?


Kellogg has just launched this cereal with just 6 grams of sugars per serving—half of what’s in most other cereals aimed at kids.

It’s also lower in sodium, but everything else about it looks pretty much the same:

Will Kellogg put money behind this cereal and market it with the millions it spends to market Froot Loops?   Will it reduce the sugars in its other cereals?  Will other cereal companies do the same?

Or will Scooby Doo suffer the fate of Post’s no-added-sugar and otherwise unsweetened Alpha Bits introduced in around 2005?

Post put no money into marketing the cereal and dropped it after just a few months (Alpha Bits now has 6 grams of sugars per serving).

Let’s give Kellogg some credit for giving this a try.   I’ve looked for Scooby Doo in grocery stores but haven’t been able to find it.

I will watch its fate with great interest.

Update: Thanks to Cara for pointing out that with Scooby Doo, Kellogg adds a cereal to its portfolio that meets requirements of the WIC (USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children’s nutritional support program).  As Jessica, a Kellogg rep explains, “The benefit of this cereal is that it’s WIC eligible and boosts several vitamins and minerals, is low in fat, is a good source of fiber and vitamin D and an excellent source of iron.”

And thanks to an anonymous writer for pointing out that Scooby Doo is directly competing with General Mills’ Dora Explorer cereal for the lucrative WIC market, one that should amount to nearly $7 billion in 2013.  WIC specifies what the benefits can be used to buy.  Cereal companies want to be sure they are in that market.

  • brad

    This reminds me of Nutri-Grain. When it first came out as a breakfast cereal, it was one of the lowest-sugar cereals on the market (they had a few varieties, but the plain wheat one was especially low in sugar). It was my breakfast cereal for about a decade (I’m a cereal monogamist), but then they decided to change the recipe, probably after doing some focus-group testing. The new version was sickly sweet and undoubtedly sold better, but thousands of us die-hard Nutri-Grain fans wrote in to protest. It was like the New Coke fiasco. Two years later Kellogg’s wrote to say that they were going back to the old recipe in response to the outcry. I was impressed.

  • FrankG

    6g of “sugar” (the so-called “simple” mono- and di-saccharides) per 1 cup serving (is that a reasonable and realistic serving size?) BUT 27g of Total Carbohydrates (a net of 24g if you ignore the fibre, which is questionable).

    That means at least 24g of sugar plus starches, per 1 cup serving.

    The first four ingredients listed (by amount) are whole grain yellow corn flour, whole wheat flour, sugar and whole grain oat flour.

    Despite the careful choice of naming there, do you really expect that those “whole” flours are unrefined and unprocessed ? Or that they won’t be rapidly digested as glucose?

    The current labeling rules are misleading – starch isn’t even given a mention: which gives the food manufacturers the opportunity to employ this sleight of hand where glucose is hidden as refined starches and does not need to be counted as “sugar”.

  • PrimeNumbers

    What’s the point of low sugar when the carb content of the cereal is just turned almost directly into sugar by your body? It’s as daft as “no added sugar” in drinks where they add fruit juice to sweeten instead. You still end up digesting a tonne of empty calories.

  • Crider

    I will never feed Kellogg’s GMO crap to my kids.

  • Cara

    Adding a WIC eligible cereal to their product portfolio seemed to motivate development of this produce. In response to some early negative customer feedback online, a Kellogg’s spokesperson wrote: “The benefit of this cereal is that it’s WIC eligible and boosts several vitamins and minerals, is low in fat, is a good source of fiber and vitamin D and an excellent source of iron.”

  • Denny

    I think this should be applauded. When breakfast cereals commonly contain as much as 30g or so per serving, having a cereal that’s aimed at kids with just 6g is certainly a risky move for Kellog’s. Whether they promote or not, kids are usually used to the sweet stuff.

    Breakfast cereals will always be high carb, the clue’s in the name after all, so whether that’s a problem on its own comes down to whether you really believe the way carbs are metabolised is inherently bad. Either way, it’s still definitely an improvement on most other cereals.

  • What concerns me is that this is one of many products a child may eat in a day that supplies 50% of iron RDA. Wholegrains are not naturally a good source of iron so why add it? Iron isn’t something that should be supplemented without iron status blood tests.

  • Jon

    Thanks for the article. I know that most of us know that eating whole foods are the way to go. Preparing them yourself is even better since we know what the ingredients are. If you’re looking for a way to enhance your whole foods cooking skills without buying another cookbook, check out the new course from the online cooking school, Rouxbe. The course is called Plant-Based Cooking. I think you’ll be impressed by how comprehensive it is and it’s all online! Cheers Everyone!

  • Chad

    We tried the Scooby cereal and it ended up in the trash. It was a soggy disappointing messs for my two boys. The Dora cereal actually isn’t to bad. It isn’t soggy and the taste is pretty good.

    I’m glad to see companies try to make their products better, but I really don’t think most people care. These products tend to disappear soon after they come out.

    I’m currently trying to kick the cereal habit for the family. Trying to change people’s idea of what is breakfast is very hard.

  • At least they’re using whole grain flours instead of refined. But everything else is more of the same. Artificial junk … and 6 grams of sugar is still too much for me

  • Tom

    Although I don’t eat breakfast cereals, if I did, I don’t know how I could get thru just 160 calories from my morning meal. I prefer to start with eggs, greek yogurt, fruit and the like. It just strikes me as eating real food is healthier than AMerican processed breadkfast cereals.

  • Foodie

    This is really weird! I buy 90% of my groceries at the organic food co-op, so I am not familiar with some of these brands. I can’t even find Dora cereal on General Mills’s web site. I even clicked on the kids’ cereal link. It seems conspiratorial that they would tank a healthier cereal by setting it up to fail. But… They really aren’t promoting this?

  • TR

    One reader asked why so much iron? Because to be WIC eligible it must have a minimum iron content. And to the others who speak derogatively of carbs for breakfast I ask “have you ever studied physiology and the feed/fast cycle?” Otherwise, I won’t bother…

    When I was a boy and ate a no-added-sugar cereal for breakfast, I always added sugar. Does no-added-sugar mean people eat less sugar? No, it just means they are likely to add it themselves. Nowadays, I dont buy boxed cereals but rather make my own granola. I use molasses for the sweetener.

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  • On the marketing end of this, I saw loads of commercials for Alpha Bits growing up. My brother and I never asked for them because 1) there was Reese’s Puffs cereal 2) the alphabet was lame. Characters like Scooby Doo and Dora will certainly get kids interested, so hopefully they’ll stick around for a while.

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