John Seven: It's no surprise that millennials shun cold cereal


NORTH ADAMS >> It was reported in the New York Times that breakfast cereal sales in the United States have dropped almost $4 billion in the last 16 years.

How can this be? Think of cereal aisles in the grocery store. Notice you use the word "aisle" with cereal, not "shelf." That's because for literally decades and decades, cereal has taken up one side of a whole supermarket aisle. Not even soup does that. Or condiments. Only cereal.

It's the millennials fault. It's reported that 60 percent of them believe breakfast cereal is "inconvenient." Of course it is. Anything that isn't a Pop Tart is "inconvenient" since you have to do more than rip open a container and bite into the food.

Cereal is a multi-tiered process involving at least one other food (two if you like to put bananas in it) and requiring a receptacle, as well as means of delivering it to your mouth. Plus if you walk around while eating it, or are just messy like me, you end up with milk stains all over your clothes.

You certainly can't eat cereal while doing all the other things you need to do in the morning. Cereal is one food that requires you to not only pay attention to something beyond your smart phone, but requires you to do it at home. You cannot go and sit at Starbucks with cereal. There are no cereal baristas.

Cereal is not an on-the-run meal; it is a stop and smell the roses one. Of course, cereal does offer the consumer a chance to tweet about it. Or Snapchat. Or whatever millennials do these days.

Kelloggs, for its part, have announced that it is "reimagining" cereal. What does that even mean? Cereal is getting a reboot, I guess. Marvel Comics should come out with a cereal line, then the millennials might pay attention.

I do notice that the headlines covering this story make a big deal out of the "inconvenient" part, but play down the other reason given. Millennials also think cereals are "too processed." I can't argue with that. You have to really process grains and sugar and mystery material in order to make them seem remotely appetizing while sitting a bowl full of milk. Processing is fine with me. I love hot dogs.

According to the Times, many millennials don't actually eat breakfast. I come from the last generation where it was obsessively hammered into our heads that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and we would collapse and die if we missed it. In this context, not eating breakfast is a major marker of generational rebellion. I approve of that.

The Times also notes that when millennials do eat breakfast, "cold cereal is often replaced by hot grains, smoothies, yogurt or breakfast sandwiches." I can't argue with any of that, either. It all sounds great and, barring yogurt, sounds as "inconvenient" as cold breakfast cereal, anyhow. This leads me to believe that the prevailing attitude isn't that cereal is inconvenient, just breakfast in general.

Well, that's the world my generation and the baby boomers gave them. Not only long school days where breakfast did, indeed, become a pain in the butt, but they watched us rush to work in the morning treating it as inconvenient. We programmed them from childhood to reject cereal and now we rage at them for doing exactly that.

That is typical of boomers and Gen X. No sense of responsibility for anything, not even the demise of breakfast cereal. Millennials, yet again, are right, and I'm happy to point that out. Tear the cereal industry down, feel the Bern and all that stuff. Trigger warnings for crunchberries. #istandwithbreakfastsandwiches.

Contact John Seven at Follow him on Twitter @damnjohnseven.


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