In the old days, cereal was a breakfast of convenience. All you have to do is pour Coco Puffs, or Lucky Charms, or Kix into a bowl, pour some ice cold milk over it, fetch a spoon, and boom — you have yourself a hearty sugar fix to start the day.
But all those steps are proving far too taxing for millennials. Cereal takes too long to prepare and then there’s that oh-so-burdensome task of rinsing and washing the bowl to deal with afterward.
A recent study, reported by The New York Times in an article about the future of cereal, found that 40 percent of millennials said it’s an inconvenient breakfast because of the post-Coco Puffs clean up. Vague ideas about processed grains being unhealthy have also made millennials shun the bowl. Instead, they have smoothies or protein bars.
California food service provider Bon Appétit Management Company, which provides food to Google and 100 college campuses, have confirmed that among the young and hip, cereal is just so 20th century. Instead, millennials grab locally-made granola, protein bars, and oatmeal or congee (which is literally gruel). Bon Appétit only offers a couple choices, like Cheerios, (because it’s gluten-free, of course) Raisin Bran, and Lucky Charms.
— UPROXX (@UPROXX) February 24, 2016
So why have millennials turned their backs on cereal? According to The Washington Post, more and more people don’t even eat breakfast at home anymore, and so opt for foods that can be eaten on the go — like breakfast sandwiches or yogurt. Others are just too busy to eat anything.
But millennials’ choices also speak to an overall trend of Americans preferring convenience above all else. People don’t buy whole coffee beans anymore, which require the onerous extra step of grinding, preferring environmentally hazardous coffee pods instead.
Dinner isn’t cooked at home as much as it used to be, either, and when it is, almost half the time the food is delivered from a restaurant.
But the Post had another theory about why millennials think cereal is too much work: many of them never learned how to do chores.
In 2014, a survey showed that 82 percent of parents of millennials did chores as children. But only 28 percent of them required the same from their own kids.
“And this generational shift in how families raise their kids seems to be turning even the most mundane of responsibilities, like doing the dishes, into unthinkable nuisances,” wrote Roberto A. Ferdman.
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) February 25, 2016
But that means an entire generation of millennials may never know the singular joy of the cold milk and crunchy cereal combination, the deliciousness of cereal-flavored milk, the fun of slurping from the bowl.
And the industry is starting to change to meet this trend, partly because their sales have dropped 30 percent in the past 15 years.
Fox News reported that producers are starting to release healthier alternatives, like organic options and those with quinoa, and using more green packaging. Kellogg is offering new ways to eat the food on the good with To Go pouches and bigger pieces that can be eaten by hand.
Millennials do love their portable containers, which, of course, they don’t need to wash.
Cereal companies have also tried to market the food as something other than breakfast and put it into crackers and snack bars. Pastry chef Christina Tosi, who at 34 bridges both the millennial generation and generation X, said “people love the flavor and texture of cereal and the vintage nature, but it’s not about breakfast.”
Cereal is more a nostalgic pleasure than anything else, she said. Tosi also found one of the best ways to use that delicious cereal milk leftover at the bottom of the inconvenient bowl: she turned it into ice cream.
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