The Great Scotcheroo Debate of 2022 | April 13, 2022

I had a completely different story lined up for this week, but my friend Corey and I had…let’s call it a “situation”…regarding Scotcheroos and Special K Bars – after which he commented, “I bet this is going to end up on your blog,” and after about the third time he said it I thought, “Yup.”

First, however, we need to discuss the products in question.  Both Scotcheroos and Special K Bars are dessert bars.  Both are made by mixing rice cereal, peanut butter, sugar, butter, and corn syrup, and then spreading that mixture out into a pan and topping it with a layer of chocolate and butterscotch.  Also, both are served in Tupperware between sheets of wax paper (if you ever go to a restaurant and see one on the menu, the chef had better come out with his grandma’s favorite Rubbermade or the whole thing is a lie).  The only difference between Scotcheroos and Special K Bars is the type of cereal; Scotcheroos use Rice Krispies, and Special K Bars use, obviously, Special K.

Speaking of similarities, I want to reiterate that one point: Rice Krispies and Special K are rice cereals.  Special K has 117 calories per serving; Rice Krispies has 126.  Rice Krispies is the #13 most popular cereal in America; Special K is #12.  The major distinguishing feature between the two is the shape: Rice Krispies looks like puffy rice; Special K is puffy flakes.  My guess is that Special K Bars were invented after some mom went to make Scotcheroos and took one look at the empty box of Rice Krispies and the full box of Special K and figured, “Meh, close enough.”

Corey and I attended our ten-year-old sons’ hockey tournament (Just in case you missed that apostrophe, I want to clarify that Corey has a son, and I have a son, and those two completely individual children play on the same hockey team.  I don’t want this story to turn into some weird secret dad thing) this past weekend in Hudson, WI.  On Friday, all of the team’s parents put our completely individual children to bed and then gathered in the hotel breakfast area for a little evening chat.

The breakfast nook at this particular hotel was an acoustical phenomenon, in that the combination of zero soft seating, ample hard countertops, and a pitched ceiling made even the smallest whisper bounce off of every surface and into the ear drums of anyone sitting in the room.  Our team’s parents were sharing the room with another team’s parents, and even though everyone was talking at an appropriate volume, the overall effect was like a race track on No Muffler Day.  As I have the type of excellent hearing that makes my husband say, “You should really go to an audiologist,” I couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying.

At some point, one of the moms went to her room and brought back a Tupperware container with a red lid and sheets of wax paper.  She stood in front of the group and said something that sounded to me like, “My mom made either Scotcheroos or Special K Bars if you want one,” and then passed around the Tupperware.

A few years ago, I attended a presentation on nutrition at which my major takeaway was that people over the age of 35 shouldn’t eat past 8:30pm.  The time was 10:15pm when I was handed that Tupperware, and so I felt the best course of action was to just shove the whole bar in my mouth – think Will Ferrell in the movie Elf when he eats the cotton ball – so that my 42-year-old body didn’t know what was happening.  As I maowed down the peanut buttery-chocolately-butterscotchy goodness, a tiny part of my brain thought, “Yum, Rice Krispies.”

Corey was the last person in our group to get the bars.  Despite the fact that I couldn’t comprehend anything he had said prior, the moment he opened his mouth I could hear him clear as a bell.  He said, “Scotcheroos or Special K?”, popped the lid, looked at the contents, said, “Special K,” and then closed it without taking one and handed it back to the owner (who left to return the container to her room).  This was what happened next:

ME: Those were Scotcheroos.

COREY: They were Special K.

ME: They were Scotcheroos.

COREY: They were Special K.

ME: I ate one.  You didn’t.

COREY: I could tell they were Special K.

ME: You could not. (Note: Scotcheroos and Special K both look like peanut butter bars with chocolate on top.)

COREY: I could.

ME, TURNING TO ANOTHER DAD: Were those Scotcheroos or Special K?

DAD 2, QUICKLY, HIS WIFE WOULD BE PROUD: I don’t know.

ME, TURNING TO A FELLOW MOM: Were those Scotcheroos or Special K?

MOM 2, THINKING FOR A MOMENT: I don’t know.

It was at this point that I realized that they might have been Special K Bars.  I mean, the major taste/consistency in both of those bars is peanut butter, and rice cereal is rice cereal.  This became even more apparent when the second dad, who had clearly been let off the hook, felt compelled to jump back in.

DAD 2: Why don’t you ask Kyle?

This is Man Code for, “Your husband is the only person brave enough to tell you you’re wrong.”  It was a safe strategy on his part; except,

ME: Kyle doesn’t know.

This was the truth, as Kyle was born and raised in Canada.  Canadians have their own bars – like Nanaimos, which are made with layered chocolate and custard and cake – and don’t need to bother with variations of Rice Krispie treats (in fact, Kyle has told me he didn’t have a chocolate-topped Rice Krispie bar until he came to the U.S.).  Also, up until 2014, Canadian Special K cereal was shaped like Rice Krispies.  So, like I said, Kyle wouldn’t know.

COREY: They were Special K.

ME: They were Scotcheroos.

At this point, the Tupperware owner came back, and I asked her, “Were those Special K Bars or Scotcheroos?”

AND THE WHOLE ROOM QUIETED DOWN AND SHE SAID,

“Oh, those were Special K.”

That’s the end of the story.  Dad 2 said I should have prepped my witness.  Kyle continued to not have any knowledge of the situation.  I apologized to Corey and he said, “You’re going to tell all of your readers that ‘COREY IS THE WORST’” – which I would never do because if you can’t fight over Scotcheroos and Special K bars and come out at the end as pals then there’s nothing left in humanity.  Plus, I am still really impressed that he could not only identify that they were Special K just on sight, but could also taste enough of a difference between the two cereals to not like one type of bar.

The photo above is of me with either a Scotcheroo or a Special K.  Only Corey and I will know for sure.

This week’s news has a bee camp, a powwow, and Jon Batiste.  Read on.


Dickinson’s Rachel Thompson will be both the only female (she’s 16 years old, by the way) and the only North Dakotan at the SkillsUSA Championships, which is a national high school firefighting competition. (Dickinson Press)

North Dakota’s volunteer Pollinator Habitat Ambassador Team has six members, including Williston’s Katherine Troutman – who is looking to put together a bee camp. (Williston Herald)

North Dakota National Guard Specialists Luis Alvarado and Gracin Clem saved five migrants from drowning in their attempt to swim the Rio Grande. (KX Net)

After a pandemic hold, UND’s is back with the 50th annual Time Out Wacipi, which included a powwow (and if you’ve never attended a powwow, you should mark your calendar to attend next year because they are amazing). (Grand Forks Herald)

Bismarck photographer, Shane Balkowitsch, was asked to take wet plate photos of Jon Batiste in advance of his big Grammy night. (Dickinson Press)

Let’s Be (Official) Pals!

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