McDonald's Now Serving Oatmeal: Fast Food Is Dead, Long Live Fast Food!

That's right: McDonald's, long the bastion of unhealthy yet filling breakfasts, is now serving oatmeal.

Seemingly in response to Starbucks' decision back in 2008 to start offering oatmeal in addition to fatty pastries at breakfast, the fast food giant has rolled out a $1.99 cup of oats that comes topped with brown sugar, apples, cranberries and raisins. The decision panned out incredibly well for Starbucks, as its "Perfect Oatmeal" became the most popular food launch in its history two years ago. McDonald's is clearly looking for the same success, even packaging the oatmeal in a very similar container and offering it for 46 cents less.

But how does it taste?

I drove through last week to test drive a cup of oatmeal, seeing how it would stack up against my own morning oatmeal choice (Oat Revolution!, which is cheap, fast and full of fiber). The results were surprising.

While I'm not giving up my convenient pouches of Oat Revolution! anytime soon -- especially for the price -- the McDonald's oatmeal was pretty good. There was a lot of it; no skimping means you won't be hungry again an hour later. The fruit was tasty, sweet and crispy, even the diced green and red apples. And the oatmeal tasted like it had actually been salted whenever it was cooked; the flavors were all nicely balanced. My only complaint is that it had a very thick, paste-like texture -- the same gummy texture that turns people off of oatmeal all the time.

Then again, at only 280 calories, 4 grams of fat and 5 milligrams of cholesterol -- plus 5 grams each of fiber and protein -- it's also the healthiest thing by far on McDonald's breakfast menu.

Could this continued move to healthier and more nutritious items on fast food menus be a sign of the times? A sign that Americans are finally invested in eating and buying better food, even from McDonald's? Could this spell the eventual death of fast food as we know it? Or is that just wishful thinking, and is McDonald's -- like many other restaurants -- simply jumping at the latest food fad and running with it?

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Katharine Shilcutt