Is There a Cereal Generation Gap?

By

Is eating cereal for breakfast a generational thing: something relished by baby boomers, nostalgic for the crunchy and sweet morning manna of their youth, and disdained by millennials, too lazy to wash their bowls?

That’s the conclusion reached by Kim Severson in a recent New York Times article.

“Almost half of all American baby boomers and nearly 40 percent of the generation born before them say the cereals they loved as children remain their favorites,” Severson wrote, citing an August 2015 report by the market research firm Mintel.

Severson notes, however, that cereal’s status as a go-to easy breakfast food may be in danger. U.S. sales have slid from $13.9 billion to $10 billion since 2000 as eaters of all stripes wonder about the healthfulness of the pretty bits and pieces they pour from their box and dowse with milk. But younger eaters, in particular, may be driving the decline, as they increasingly turn to hot cereals, smoothies, yogurt, granola, protein bars and other options.

Why are millennials shunning America’s longtime breakfast staple? “It’s just too much work, for one thing,” Severson wrote, citing a statistic from that same Mintel report: “Almost 40 percent of the millennials surveyed … said cereal was an inconvenient breakfast choice because they had to clean up after eating it.”

Severson suggested that millennials are still eating cereal, but they are enjoying it in unconventional ways: as a snack food during the day, as an ingredient in unusual entrees and even as a flavoring in cocktails.

“People love the flavor and texture of cereal and the vintage nature, but it’s not about breakfast,” New York pastry chef and Milk Bar cafe founder Christina Tosi told the Times.

One example: Trisha Yearwood’s Cinnamon Cereal Cocktail recipe, which she makes with whole milk, cinnamon cereal (Cinnamon Toast Crunch), cinnamon whiskey (Fireball Whiskey) and rum cream liqueur (RumChata).

It sounds delish and totally worth the cleanup — but it’s admittedly not a great late-for-work breakfast option.

Photo courtesy of iStock.