The humble O: a childhood memory or a meal that may never be?   Cereal: boxed, bagged and bountiful flavors.  Everyone knows it, most have eaten it and some stock their pantries with it.

You’d think cereal has comfortably established itself breakfast king.  But unlike its holy history, its future is up for debate.

Divine Intervention: Save Your Soul & Fill Your Belly

Cereals, in one form or another, have been around since the 1860s.  They were hard, had to be soaked overnight in milk, and didn’t catch on.  The cereal we know and maybe love today was created with help from the divine.

Battle Creek, Michigan: Seventh Day Adventist headquarters.  John Kellogg, a Battle Creek resident and Seventh Day Adventist, was encouraged to go into medicine by the church and through a blessed event created modern breakfast cereal.  Running a sanatorium, aka a yester-year spa, John Kellogg offered wealthy visitors rest and relaxation, as well as natural remedies supported by the Church. Much like spas today, guests were only offered vegetarian meal options, forcing Kellogg to come up with a replacement for the traditional bacon and eggs breakfast.  To accommodate his guests need to eat, John Kellogg experimented with flavors and grains until he stumbled upon corn flakes. Hazah!

Breakfast of Champions or Superior Snack?

Do you feel like a famous athlete after eating a bowl of Wheaties?  Better question: does anyone even eat Wheaties anymore? It turns out they may not.  And, it’s doubtful anyone feels like they can lift a car after eating a bowl of cereal.

While breakfast cereal occupies an entire aisle at most supermarkets, and it’s the OG easy breakfast, cereal sales have declined 11% since 2012.  Why?  Breakfast cereal doesn’t keep people full and doesn’t give them enough energy, according to a 2017 Mintel survey.  To put an even bigger dagger into cereal’s heart, Millennials may not eat cereal because it’s not convenient.  Ahem. Whether or not that’s true is up for debate.

Regardless of how you feel about cereals ease in the a.m., we can all vouch for its snack-ability.  Put it in a baggy on-the-go or put it in a bowl of milk and – bam – snack time.  55% of Americans snack two to three times a day.  We snack for health, but mostly we snack to indulge – treat yo’self.  Americans snacking definition is evolving:

“Two in five (38 percent) consumers agree that anything can be considered a snack and one in seven (14 percent) say they are snacking on ‘less traditional’ snack foods, such as sandwiches and cereal.” – Mintel 2017

What’s that?  Cereal, a snack?  Yes, my friends, cereal is quickly becoming the new snack king.  So long snack crackers.  Its breakfast dominance is slowly transitioning to snacking dominance.   Whether you’re indulging or looking for healthy snack options, your cereal choices are limitless.  The number of different types of breakfast cereals in the U.S. has grown from 160 (1970) to 340 (1998) to 4,945 (2012).  So, you can go more than 13.5 years without snacking on the same breakfast cereal twice, assuming you eat one bowl a day.  If you eat a box of cereal a week, it will take you 95 years to snack on all the cereals that existed in 2012 – longer if you start adding in new cereals.  I think Jerry Seinfeld is smiling somewhere.

A Cereal Revolution

To welcome us into the cereal new age, Cap’n Crunch launched The Earliest Show, a fake morning show that aired on YouTube, well, in the morning.

Partnering with Funny or Die, Cap’n Crunch will make you die laughing while watching this 6-part series.  You may also be required to eat some cereal – that’s TBD. Quaker brands, maker of Cap’n Crunch, realized it’s consumers were eating cereal at non-traditional times, and created a show to be enjoyed over a late-night cereal snack.

Eat Cereal and Chill

While cereal’s status in our society is changing, it’s importance is not.  Musicians write songs about cereals and celebs crave it.  Did you know Justin Bieber once ordered and ate Frosted Mini-Wheats all night at an NYC hotel?

To bring cereal full circle, our friend John Kellogg’s processors have reinvented where and how to eat cereal.  No longer is cereal merely a meal snack to enjoy alone.  Now you can eat, chill and create at Kellogg’s NYC, an upscale cereal bar located in NYC’s Union Hill Park neighborhood.  If eating cereal like a king in a pseudo-cereal palace doesn’t do it for you, then you can have them cater.  According to Kellogg’s NYC:

Catering package includes choice of cereals, toppings, milks, and treats. Complete your breakfast with delicious coffee, a variety of teas, La Croix water, and fresh fruit from the farmers market! You can also request a special visit from Tony the Tiger.

Tony the Tiger seals that deal.  He’s Grrrrr-eat!

While we just missed National Cereal Day, March 7, and we likely won’t get a visit from Tony, I leave you with a cereal song to brighten your day and your life and get you in the mood for your next cereal snack.   Hit it LL Cool J!