Is There a Cereal Generation Gap?

Photo by: Lauri Patterson

Lauri Patterson

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.

Keep Reading

Next Up

The Touchscreen Generation Gets Its Automat

A new automated restaurant in San Francisco, Eatsa, is being hailed as the future of fast food, yet it sounds a lot like the Automats of old.

Kids BBQ Championship: The Search for the Next Generation Grill Master

The new series Kids BBQ Championship premieres Monday, May 23rd at 8|7c with hosts Camila Alves and Eddie Jackson.

Win This Cereal!

We're giving away three boxes of Uncle Sam cereal to one lucky commenter!

Win This Cereal!

Healthy Eats is giving away a two-pack of Great Grains Protein Blend to 15 lucky, randomly-selected commenters.

Inspiring a New Generation of Chefs: Ted Allen on the Talent at Play on Chopped Teen Tournament

Chopped host Ted Allen gives a sneak peek into the new season of Chopped Teen Tournament.

Win Erewhon Cereal!

We’re giving away a cereal prize pack containing three boxes of Erewhon cereal to one lucky, randomly-selected commenter.

Walking Cereal Bowls

How about a twist on walking nachos? Set up this breakfast bar for your tailgating crowd, so everyone can build an on-the-go sweet or savory cereal snack!

Mix-and-Match Cereal Treats

Design your own no-bake bars!

The Best Lower-Sugar Cereals

These healthy and tasty cereals are all low in added sugar, making them great choices for a better morning meal.

How to Choose a Healthy Cereal

Cereal can be a healthy and quick breakfast, but the information on boxes can be deceiving. We’ll tell you what to look for, plus share a few favorite brands.