The Louisville Cardinal

The Journey of Ranking the Best Breakfast Cereals

By: Sam Draut

I did not start this school year with the aspirations of finishing with a 4.0 or becoming a campus legend, instead, I wanted to try every cereal on the market and provide readers with a complete and comprehensive ranking to guide their breakfast cereal selection.

Before starting, I laid out a few ground rules for the rankings.  I would only try name brand cereals, no generic store brand, so the cereals were strictly made by Kellogg’s, General Mills, Post or Quaker.

Additionally, every box must be finished.  Finally, in an effort to try every different cereal available, I would not go into the product variations unless deemed necessary.

For example, Honey Bunches of Oats produces six different cereals, including Honey Bunches of Oats Almonds, Honey Bunches of Oats Just Bunches, Honey Bunches of Oats Strawberries, but because Honey Bunches of Oats Honey Roasted is the most popular, I chose that form to be included in the rankings.

In total, I ranked 37 cereals from best to worst (see below).  16 cereals were produced by General Mills, 12 by Kellogg’s, five by Post and four by Quaker.

So onto what I observed from eight long months of cereal critiquing.

Cheerio’s is the best cereal.  Point. Blank. Period.  When we think of breakfast cereal, we think of Cheerio’s.

Along with denim jeans and Clint Eastwood, Cheerio’s is as American as it gets.  No other cereal satisfies us at all stages of our lives.  We eat it as babies, we grab a bowl before we rush to the school bus stop and eat a few spoonful’s before hectically driving the children to soccer practice in our oversized mini-van.

When the stock market crashes and the city’s public transportation system fails, we have Cheerio’s.  It is the one constant in our lives, right along with death, taxes and fat free milk.

I have always been a fan of Cap’n Crunch, but after all of these years producing incredible cereal, my only question is how the Cap’n is not an admiral?

My biggest surprise was Post’s Fruity Pebbles, ever since Trix changed to puffs from fruit shapes, Fred Flintstone’s Bedrock breakfast has the topped the list for fruity cereals.

Countering this pleasant surprise, I highlighted Corn Flakes as the biggest let down.  It is one of the oldest cereals on the market, a tradition of more than 120 years originally stemming from Seventh Day Adventists searching for a base to their vegetarian diets.  But as angry as Battle Creek, MI maybe from this, Corn Flakes should stay in the 19th century.

Though it is difficult to find, Cinnabon cereal is the most underrated and undervalued option on the market.  It landed fourth in my rankings, well above the next closest cinnamon cereal option, the more popular Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Though Jim Halpert suffers from Count Choculitis, I was able to battle through a box of Count Chocula and finish it unscathed.  Dwight Schrute might argue my low ranking of the seasonal cereal, but the marshmallows couldn’t combat the dull taste of the chocolatey base.

Boo Berry is the seasonal sister cereal of Count Chocula, but I found myself comparing it to Depaul University’s Athletic Department.  The cereal ranked last, nowhere to go but up.

Don Draper told us to eat Life cereal by the bowl full and I finished it pleasantly surprised.  I would have left the box on the shelf if it weren’t for the tremendous advertising campaign.

Special K is marketed to women between the ages of 25-34, and though I did notice elevated levels of estrogen while eating the cereal, it was good enough to land in the middle of the pack.

And just to clarify, since men are not allowed to buy the cereal, I had to ask a female friend to purchase a box, and then conduct a brown bag handoff in an abandoned parking lot.

But not all cereal box acquisitions were as simple as pulling a box down from the local grocery store shelf or meeting someone in a public area.

Oreo O’s was on sale in the United States for ten years, but discontinued in 2007.  Thankfully, South Korea still continues selling the cereal.  After a quick brush up on Rosetta Stone’s Korean modules, I was able to have a box shipped to me for 25 U.S. dollars.

But, the battle continued abroad as General Mills announced in December that it would be re-releasing French Toast Crunch after removing it in 2006.

It was announced that the cereal would only be sent to select area stores for a six week trial period.  An insider tip led me and a band of cereal connoisseurs to arrive at the 24-hour Fern Creek Wal-Mart just as the boxes hit the shelves.

Because time became an issue in the final weeks, a few cereals were left off the list.  I never had a chance to try Kix, Waffle Crisp, Chex, and Total, a few well-known cereals that I just didn’t get to.

There is one cereal completely absent from the rankings and not because I did not have time to try it.  Tony’s Cinnamon Krunchers left this world in 2005 and Kellogg’s has no intentions of reviving it.  For three years, the ever crunchy, never soggy, cinnamon flakes carried a generation of children looking for a cinnamon cereal that wouldn’t run off with a touch of milk.

I have always said I would trade a decade of my life for just one more box of the cereal.  I still dream of a morning where I can wake up to Tony’s Cinnamon Krunchers in the cabinet.

According to International Business Times, 50 percent of Americans start their morning with a breakfast cereal, now it’s up to you to pick the right one.

 

Rankings

  1. Cheerios
  2. Reese’ Puffs
  3. Cap’n Crunch
  4. Cinnabon Cereal
  5. Lucky Charms
  6. Frosted Flakes
  7. Cocoa Puffs
  8. Honey Bunches of Oats
  9. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  10. Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch
  11. Fruity Pebbles
  12. Apple Jacks
  13. Cookie Crisp
  14. Hershey’s Cookies & Cream
  15. Cocoa Pebbles
  16. Chocolate Lucky Charms
  17. Oops Berries
  18. Froot Loops
  19. Frosted Cheerios
  20. Rice Krispies
  21. Krave
  22. Golden Grahams
  23. Honeynut Cheerios
  24. Raisin Bran Crunch
  25. Life
  26. Trix
  27. Frosted Mini Wheats
  28. Special K
  29. Oreo O’s
  30. Count Chocula
  31. Jif
  32. Wheaties
  33. Corn Flakes
  34. French Toast Crunch
  35. Corn Pops
  36. Honeycombs
  37. Boo Berry