Life, Oat Bran, and Uncle Sam

Oat Life
Oat Bran
vs. Uncle Sam Cereal

After I turned 7, I stopped eating frosted sugar bombs artificially-flavored
breakfast cereal made with non-terrestial foodstuffs for breakfast. My preferred
cereal was Quaker Oat Life,
which not only tasted good, but had seemingly benign ingredients. It had become
a staple though even my college years.

In 1997, the Marketing Geniuses at Quaker wanted to replace Mikey (who I assume
was now in his 40s). While they were at it, they were going to improve upon
the flavor. You know where this is going: the “new and improved” cereal
had an awful malt flavor. I actually took the time to write in a complaint.
Apparently a lot of other people felt the same way as Quaker quietly reintroduced
the original flavor a year afterwards.

Fast forward to 2003. My kids like Quaker Oat Life,
and I am thirtysomething deliberately looking for cereals with more fiber.
While sitting at the table, I had both Life and
Oat Bran boxes next to each other and wondered what the differences were between
the cereals. Since I was after fiber, I thought it would be worthwhile looking
at a cereal reknowned for its fiber content… Uncle Sam.

So, in the spirit of Rob Cockerham,
here is a comparison of what’s inside:

Skim milk Life Cereal Oat Bran Uncle Sam Cereal
Familiar Tagline “Got Milk?”

“Mikey Likes It!”

“Oat-bran cereal
lowers serum total and LDL cholesterol in hypercholesterolemic

“A Natural Laxative.”

Shape Whitish fluid Square biscuit Hexagonal biscuit Flakes and seeds
Sample Photo unavailable
Color White Yellow-brown Pale brown yellow brown; seeds dark brown
Price* $3.19 $4.28 $4.89 $2.59
Package size 1 gallon 425g 439g 284g
Taste Prefer 2% Slightly pasty Good Good

*Safeway, added for Rob’s benefit.
Albertson’s is cheaper. Also, taste is highly subjective.

It’s interesting to note that the serving size for Life is very
. Giving Quaker the benefit of the doubt, we’ll conjecture it’s
because kids, the primary demographic of Life,
would eat less. For ease of comparison, we’ll adjust the serving size of
Life to be the same size as that of Oat
. Based on experience, this is not unreasonable. All units are
in grams(*) unless
otherwise specified.

I’ve deliberately left off the vitamins and minerals because I feel that
unless you’re eating a really terrible diet or have a medical condition (like
being pregnant), you probably don’t need additional vitamin supplementation.
Furthermore, too much of some vitamins can have bad effects on the body.
For example, excess iron (essential for hemoglobin production) is linked
to heart disease, and is added because the grains are usually stripped of
the bran. (Go figure)

Oat Bran Life


serving size)

Uncle Sam Cereal The winner…
Box size (g) 439 284
Serving Size (g) 57 57 55
Servings/Container 8 5
Price/serving $0.61 $0.58 $0.52 Uncle Sam
Per serving RDA
Calories 2,000 210 214 190 Uncle Sam
Fat < 65g 2.5 4.5 5 Uncle Sam(*)
Saturated < 20g 0.5 2.7 0.5
Unsaturated 1.0 0.9 4.5
Monosaturated 1.0 0.9 0.0
Cholesterol < 0.300 Tie!
Sodium < 2.400 0.160 0.285 0.135 Uncle Sam
Potassium 3.500 0.090 0.160 0.000
Total Carbohydrates 43 45 38
Sugars 9 11 1 Uncle Sam!
Dietary Fiber 6 4 10 Uncle Sam!
Soluble Fiber 2.000 0 2 Tie
Other 28.000 30.281 Uncle Sam
Protein 4.000 5.344 4.000 Tie

And now we come to the brass tacks, what’s inside. Uncle Sam goes for simplicity,
and delivers, very well, on the fiber promise — almost 20% by weight! Oat
Bran has more fiber and less sugar than Life.
Uncle Sam “loses” in the fat department, but only if you’re looking
at total fat and not the composition.

Life Oat Bran Uncle Sam
Key: Whole Oat Flour Oat Bran Whole Wheat Kernels
Coloring Sugar Whole wheat flour Whole Flaxseed
Preservative Corn flour Sugar Barley Malt
Vitamin Whole wheat flour Corn flour Salt
Good Rice flour Baking soda Niacin
Not Good Salt Calcium carbonate Thiamin
Calcium carbonate Salt Riboflavin
Sodium phosphate (dough conditioner) Caramel color
Reduced iron Reduced iron
Niacinamide Sodium ascorbate (vitamin C)
Zinc oxide Niacinamide
BHT(Link) Zinc oxide
Yellow 5 Vitamin E acetate
Yellow 6 Vitamin A palmitate
Thiamin mononitrate Thiamin mononitrate
Pyridoxine hydrochloride Pyridoxine hydrochloride
Riboflavin Riboflavin
Folic acid Folic acid

Conclusions: I was surprised how much I liked Uncle Sam
Cereal. It wins on value, fiber, and pronouncable ingredients. Oat Bran has
a slight edge to Life in nutrition, but is slightly more expensive per serving. My kids still prefer Life having identified it as a brand they know. (That’s a scary thought.)

(*) Jimmy Carter made me do this ;)qqq

14 thoughts on “Life, Oat Bran, and Uncle Sam”

  1. i bought my first box of uncle sam cereal this week and i’m addicted to it. i LOVE it!

  2. JP. Timmerman

    Thanks for the great comparison. Do you have one for Uncle Sam & Apple Cinnamon Cheerios?

    Dad just introduced me to Uncle Sam & I really like it. Unfortunately, it’s going to be expensive to have it shipped to S. Korea.

  3. Yo! I live in Canada and just discovered your site while searching for a purchasing source for Uncle Sam cereal, as mentioned in the South Beach Diet book. Following some rather extensive research, I have not been able to discover where to purchase said cereal. I know for a fact that it is not commonly available in Canada. I am told that there an online site where we can purchase. The very company that produces this products appears to not be selling across the border… Can someone help!!!

    Many thanks

    Connie D.

  4. It is difficult to find grain products (cereals, breads, etc) that are not fortified nor contain enriched flour. I’ve been searching for low folic acid cereals because my daughter is folic acid restricted two days a week (and folic acid supplemented the remaining seven days). It is complex, but has to do with weekly chemotherapy treatments.

    Thanks for creating this easy to read comparison. Uncle Sam cereal has just been added to our family’s grocery list!


  5. What is the iron content of life cinnamon for a serving?
    Also, need recipes.
    Please send.

  6. Adelina: Cinnamon life has about 12mg of iron, compared to 16mg for regular life. As I mentioned earlier, most added vitamins and minerals are unnecessary if you eat a healthy diet.

    I don’t have any recipes with breakfast cereals, per se, though you could probably substitute Uncle Sam cereal for the flax seed in my banana bread recipe.

  7. I have the same problem as Connie. I’m on the South Beach Diet and can’t find Uncle Sam or anything comparable. I was looking at bran cereals today too, but even the bran buds are just full of sugar!

  8. I bought my first box of Uncle Sam Cereal tonight and just had a bowl. It’s a very nice cereal and the taste is far from offensive. I notice on the box that there are several products that my store doesn’t carry, an instant oatmeal and a cereal with berries. Then I went to General Mills web site and found that there are also several other products by Uncle Sam that I don’t have a source for.

    Someone needs to get on the ball and put this product in all it’s variations on the web…please.

    (I’m recovering from colon surgery and this is a recommended product to keep me regular…)

  9. can anyone tell me where or how i can obtain general mills total cornflakes in canada?? i used to live in the states, and ate them all the time. i love that they have 100% of days calcium and b12. i can’t find them anywhere in canada. are they available? why not?

  10. I recently purchased a box of Uncle Sam original, at Super-Walmart. I live in eastern NC, and I don’t know if it’s available nationwide in Walmart.

  11. Just read your great comparison on cereal and discovered Uncle Sam’s cereal while on ediets.
    Isn’t it SOLUBLE fiber you want in your diet more than dietary fiber. It’s the sluble fiber which reduces cholesterol.

  12. Hi I like many of you am also addicted to Uncle Sam cereal. It is absolutely the best and I eat it everyday for breakfast and sometimes a snack with a little splenda and lite vanilla soymilk. thanks for the info I mostly bought it shopping for price one week and just love the taste supremely. pj

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