Food News

No One Can Agree on How Millennials Feel About Cereal

June 29, 2016

The Internet is stuck on talking about millennials and their (disclosure: our) relationship with cereal. (So I've got to jump in, too!)

Take a look at the (very repetitive) first page of Google search results for "cereal millennials":

  • The baffling reason many millennials don't eat cereal [Washington Post, 2/23/2016]
  • The Real Reason Millennials Aren't Eating Cereal for Breakfast [GQ, 3/21/2016]
  • Really? Millennials Probably Not Too Lazy to Eat Cereal [Live Science, 2/29/2016]
  • This is Why Millennials Actually Don't Eat Cereal [The Kitchn, 3/1/2016]
  • Millennials are too lazy to eat cereal [Business Insider, 2/24/2016]
  • Millennials don't eat cereal because it's inconvenient [Fox News, 2/24/2016]
  • Nearly 40 percent of millennials don't eat cereal for breakfast [Atlantic Journal-Constitution, 3/7/2016]
  • Cereal, a Taste of Nostalgia, Looks for Its Next Chapter [New York Times, 2/22/2016]

The list is a fascinating peek into headline-writing and bandwagon-jumping (otherwise known as rapid-fire reporting): The Times article, which reported that nearly "40 percent of the millennials surveyed [...] said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it"—set off a rash of similar stories, some disparaging our lazy-as-can-be generation, others jumping in to rationalize our cereal aversion (cereal "makes me sad" wrote a real-life millennial on The Kitchn. She makes smoothies instead).

But after the rush of articles reporting and re-reporting the statistic that 40% of us millennials are too self-involved to add a drop of liquid soap to a barely dirty bowl, the GQ story—the last of the group above—refuted the claims:

The big issue here isn't that millennials aren't eating cereal, or that they think it's too much work. They aren't eating it for breakfast and they think it takes too much time for breakfast.

But we millennials are eating cereal at other times! Like for dinner. "Even food editors eat cereal for dinner," was our social tagline for the Burnt Toast podcast episode on "What We Cook When We Don't Feel Like Cooking." And I would personally be embarrassed to know exactly how many times I've referenced eating cereal for dinner in my writing in an effort to give the impression that I am (I am!) a real human (I wouldn't be embarrassed, however, by the number of times—a lot of times—I do just that).

Shop the Story

Millennials are too lazy to eat cereal for breakfast; and since we're too lazy to cook dinner, that's when we eat cereal.

And when we're too lazy even for that, yet we still want the nostalgic taste of Lucky Charms—and we want it to be fed to us because we also can't face the realities of growing up (did you know that, as the Business Insider headline shouts, "Millennials are more likely to live at home than any other young adults in American history"?)—there's a restaurant where we can overpay someone to pour it into a bowl for us!

Last summer, Kith NYC made news for its customizable cereal bar (not the first of its kind, since there's also Cereal Killer Café in London); this summer, that same concept returns, but with the mega-brand Kellogg's—and the food world big wigs Christina Tosi and Anthony Rudolf—behind it.

Kellogg's NYC, an all-day cereal café located in Times Square, opens on July 4 with a menu that includes six bowls ($7.50 for a large; $6.50 for a small—both more expensive than a box of almost any kind of cereal) made of either Special K, Raisin Bran, Cracklin' Oat Bran, Crispix, Rice Krispies, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Corn Pops with the addition of trendy millennial favorites like green tea powder and lemon zest. There's also a build-your-own bowl option (because millennials love to customize! We can't be told what to do!) and sundaes. And yes, soy milk is available.

This is a great marketing tactic. Look: We're talking about cereal (again!) and we're talking about this café (and so is Eater, CNN Money, Time Out New York, New York Daily News, your grandma...). But personally, I think the beauty of cereal is eating it alone (for me, a bowl of Rice Krispies mixed with Cracklin' Oat Bran)—for dinner, maybe for breakfast too, in a nook of the apartment, away from Times Square's crowds and the din of internet headlines.

But call me old-fashioned.

What do you think: Are millennials really too lazy to clean up after a bowl of cereal? Tell us in the comments below.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Amanda Scott
    Amanda Scott
  • Dave Drees
    Dave Drees
  • vanessa
  • Kristien
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Amanda S. July 3, 2016
With the higher cost, high added sugar and lack of nutritional value (at most we get whole grains with some sugar), cereal is really a treat rather than an everyday breakfast. I think most people would rather have that nutritional profile in a bar form. I'd rather go for foods that have much higher nutritional value (like hot cereals/oats or smoothies) to be worth my time. If you think millenials won't spend any time on food, then the smoothie bowl trend wouldn't happen.
Dave D. July 2, 2016
Cereal has gotten so much more expensive relative to everything else. It's not the cheap and easy Breakfast it used to be.
vanessa June 30, 2016
i'm on the older side of millennial-dom, and consume cereal as a rare treat only because i consider it to be relatively unhealthy. most days i drink a smoothie for breakfast, eat a salad for lunch, and may have something very light - some nuts, or a piece of good meat and some vegetables - for dinner. lots of water all the time. cereal is heavy, highly processed, and laden with sugar. would rather indulge in a cup of coffee at some point. shrug.
Kristien June 30, 2016
I guess I'm considered a millenial at age 29, but I've been a cereal lover my whole life. Cocoa Krispies, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Frosted Flakes are probably my top three, and I once had the cashier at the store ask how many children I had when checking out...I have zero. Also what clean-up is there with cereal?! One bowl and spoon is way easier to wash than a blender filled with chunks of spinach leaves, or a skillet you cooked eggs in. I usually save my cereal for Saturday morning, where I can take my time eating it, sit on the couch, and watch TV. You're right about it being more of a time thing, which is why I don't eat it on weekday mornings. But you'll pry cereal from my cold dead hands!
Kristen M. June 29, 2016
My last 4 meals were pinkberry, cereal, cereal, and cereal. I identify as a childless elderly millennial. (But I don't endorse this! I'll have vegetables for lunch!)
Kaite June 29, 2016
I adore cereal!! If you were to open my pantry you would see several boxes of different varieties in there. I could eat it morning, noon, and night. I get "adult" cereals for breakfast, and "kid" cereals for dessert. I also have bags of flax seed powder and wheat/oatmeal bran on hand to add some extra protein to my bowl. I don't see how it is too time consuming to clean up. If you don't have time to clean a bowl and a spoon, perhaps you need to learn to slow down a bit!
alliejones June 29, 2016
RIP Food 52. I'm not sure why you took away the columns and articles that gave this site real voice (remember Nicholas Day? and Jenny?) and turned Food 52 into another bland, faceless shopping site with meaningless drivel sprinkled throughout. This article says it all.
foofaraw June 29, 2016
Too lazy to clean? More like too expensive for so little amount and level of fullness. Or is that too smart?
One bowl of oatmeal that cost ~$.15 will keep me full until lunch, while with cereal, with 1 bowl (~$.30) I am already hungry again at 10am. Two bowls of cereal (~$.60) maybe keep me full until lunch but will make me feel bloated. Not to mention there is very little protein there.