Kelloggs are trialling Froot Loops in the UK at the moment, in special limited edition boxes. I used to eat them, alongside any number of other colourful cereals, when I lived in the US, so I picked up a box. I don’t remember the US ones well enough to be able to compare the taste and crunch, but these ones taste pretty good to me.
The UK version only has 3 colours of loop, and for good reason. Our version only used natural colours, so we have orange, coloured with carrot, purple, coloured with blackcurrant, and green, coloured with spinach and nettle. You can’t taste any carrot, spinach or nettle, by the way. Here are the British ingredients:
Cereal Flours (Oat, Wheat, Maize), Sugar, Glucose Syrup, Salt, Natural Citrus Flavouring with other Natural Flavourings, Plant Extracts (Nettle, Spinach), Fruit and Vegetable Extracts (Carrot, Blackcurrant), Colour (Papricka Extract)
And here are the US ingredients:
Sugar, whole grain corn flour, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, oat fiber, soluble corn fiber, contains 2% or less of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed), salt, red 40, natural flavor, blue 2, turmeric color, yellow 6, annatto color, blue 1, BHT for freshness.
There’s quite some difference there. Firstly, the US version has sugar as its number one ingredient. It also has partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, while the UK version seems to manage with no oil at all. Our primary cereal seems to be oats, while the US, unsurprisingly, has corn at the top, and then some soluble corn later. I’ve no idea if that really changes the taste much, but oats are quite a wondrous food. Oats have the highest protein levels of any cereal crop, which probably explains why UK Froot Loops have THREE TIMES the protein of their US counterparts.
Then you have Red 40, and a host of other artificial colours. BHT, or Butylated hydroxytoluene is a petroleum-based antioxidant used for freshness, but once again, the UK version manages to mysteriously not need it. It is possible that the natural colours (such as the carotene in the orange loops) are doing double duty, as they have strong antioxidant properties themselves.
The point of this post is this: There is no good reason why Kelloggs could not use the recipe they’re using in the UK in the US too. Even if you don’t care about the artifical chemicals (and you should), the British recipe is undeniably far better for you. The calorie amount is actually roughly the same, but the British version has about three times as much protein (great stuff, but also a slow-release calorie source), and about two thirds of the sugar. So neither are what you’d call healthy food, but the Glycemic Index of the US version would be much higher, as it releases its energy over a shorter period of time, meaning you get hungry again more quickly.
Essentially, UK Froot Loops are quite unhealthy on their own, but in moderation you could fit them in to a reasonably healthy diet. US Froot Loops are a comparative nutritional void, laced with a variety of suspect artificial substances with links to hyperactivity and cancer.
So, why not ask Kelloggs if they’d like to start treating American customers as well as they treat British ones? Currently, the deck is stacked against any American who wants to eat healthily, and the obesity epidemic can certainly be blamed in part on the choices companies make in formulating their products. As this post has shown, producers know how to make healthier products, but they feel they can get away with cutting corners when US consumers are concerned.