Here in America, there’s nothing we love more than an arbitrary national holiday devoted to something that most people couldn’t care less about. But unlike Arbor Day — which we never got off for school, even though it was always on the calendar — there’s one national holiday that’s more important than Christmas, Presidents’ Day, and my birthday (April 2nd, if you were planning to buy me a present) combined. It’s National Cereal Day, and it’s happening today! That’s right: You could be celebrating cereal right now — by eating an entire family-sized box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch — and you didn’t even know it.
But we did. We knew it was National Cereal Day, and since it’s the perfect excuse to carbo-load like you never have before, we decided to take some time and rank the best breakfast cereals that our fair country has to offer (hey, it’s one of the few things we have left to be proud of).
Accept no substitution, this is the real and definitive list of cereals you should be chowing down on right now. Don’t have milk? No problem! Because every cereal mentioned in this line-up is delicious without it. And, because the comments opened our eyes wider than our mouths last year, we took your impassioned pleas into account when putting together this year’s ranking. After all, if there’s one thing that makes National Cereal Day special, it’s the fact that we can all come together and realize that sometimes we’re wrong about where we put Captain Crunch on the list. We get it: Taste trumps the fact that your mouth will look like it’s been torn to bloody shreds. Please stop emailing.
And now, without further ado:
Light flavor, no gimmicks. You could also get the cinnamon variety, which added the little jolt of excitement your breakfast so desperately needed. “Why is such a boring cereal even making the list?” you might be asking yourself, and I have an answer: Because Life is versatile! You could mix it with other cereals when you didn’t have enough Crunch Berries (shudder) or Cinnamon Toast Crunch to last you a bowl and it wouldn’t overpower their flavor.
That’s an important wingcereal move that you’ve got to respect.
Not ideal, but better than Corn flakes (which are not on this list because f*ck Corn Flakes) or regular Cheerios (what are you, some kind of 50-year-old with a cholesterol problem?).
(Also Berry Berry Kix was amazing.)
15. Honey Bunches of Oats
Did you hate these when you were a kid? Probably. Were you wrong? Maybe. Why? Because aside from buzzwords like “almonds” and “fiber,” these little clusters were just delicious sugar balls that would keep you going for the rest of the day. And yet, no one would judge you for eating them daily. Not even now. If you popped ten boxes of this in your shopping cart today you still might be confused for someone cares (mildly) about her health.
14. Corn Pops
You had to have ‘em, you didn’t know why. You also didn’t know why they were so delicious or looked vaguely like Sloth from The Goonies or stuck together like they were bound with liquid cement.
Would you eat them for breakfast now? Probably not. Were they a staple for “cool teens who were over the fruity-cereal nonsense”? Absolutely. (As the above Aaron Paul commercial shows: Corn Pops may be a dangerous gateway to meth. Consume with caution.)
13. Rice Krispies
No sugar, lots of noise. Plus, they were so compact and airy that you could squash an entire box into a mixing bowl and feel like you’d covered your nutritional bases for the day — something I tried in college. (Big mistake.) (Also: The chocolate version? Not so great.) (I said it.)
12. Frosted Flakes
Simple, clean, deceptively bad for you, this breakfast staple is a classic that you’ll always buy if it’s on sale. Even after you’re told to be swayed by Tony the Tiger — although I still exclaim “They’re grrrrrrrrrreat” with every bite — these little flakes of delight took the horrible cardboard taste of corn flakes and turned them into something edible. Excellent taste, excellent texture, and the only way Corn Flakes should ever be eaten, because these little flakes of goodness are still healthier than dropping three heaping table spoons of sugar onto your breakfast (which you had to do when your parents got the unsweetened stuff).
See also: Shredded Mini-Wheats.
11. Apple Jacks
Didn’t taste like apples and their gimmick made no sense, but Apple Jacks were still delightful to find in your pantry! Your parents probably bought them in an attempt to seem cool — “It’s been difficult but I’ve come to a decision: I don’t care that they don’t taste like apples, all I care about is you.” — but it didn’t really matter. All that did was how tough these little dudes stayed in milk (their sogginess resistance was off the charts) and how good they tastes, although I still have no idea what that taste was.
See also: Honeycomb. Tasted great, crunched like a boss, didn’t taste even remotely like any honey any of us has ever tried. Am I right?
10. Cap’n Crunch
Is the cereal delicious? Yes, but the havoc it wreaks on the roof of your mouth is inhumane. Not even the fact that it was 100 percent sugar could soothe the terrifying pain of having your mouthbits shredded like they were tax documents someone was desperately trying to hide. And I still believe that the introduction of the red crunch berries was less about novelty and more about explaining why the milk would grow more and more red with each bite. It’s not blood, you could tell yourself as you cried through another amazing spoonful, it’s just the kick-ass color-changing power the Cap’n bestowed upon his glorious, fiber-filled treasure.
Not just for kids, but certainly not quite as much fun now that the fruit shapes have been turned into blobs. This cereal had two things going for it: an excellent mascot and a sugar-milk residue that was irresistible.
8. Lucky Charms
The first time I tried Lucky Charms, I thought the marshmallows were going to be soft and fluffy. Not the case. Instead they were hard little pills that disintegrated between your teeth and left behind a fine grit that lasted all day, even after numerous drinks of water.
But, apparently, that doesn’t matter to many people. In fact, the marshmallows are so popular that you can actually skip all the drama of having to eat the oats and just buy a bag of the “magically delicious” marshmallow shapes on their own. Remember, you can’t spell Type 2 Diabetes without “I’m an adult and if I want to eat a bowl of marshmallows for breakfast every morning, that’s just the kind of shit I’m going to do. Now, hold my beer and watch me.”
7. Froot Loops
Some people might argue that these little rings of diabetes should be up higher on a list that purports to rank the deliciousness of cereals. Those people would be wrong. While closer to the top of the pile than Trix, these were hard to eat in bulk (an important quality to look for in a cereal) and didn’t have the crunch and whimsy of Fruity Pebbles. Plus, they almost killed me once.
Fun story: The first time my parents left me at home alone—I was eight—I decided to bake them a cake as a surprise with which to greet them upon their return. Since I was young and dumb, I figured the best way to make a cake was to dump a bunch of Fruit Loops into a bowl, stick that bowl in the microwave for ten minutes, and then throw a chair at something. What started as an exercise in experimental Home EC ended in tears, smoke inhalation, and me frantically trying to put out a microwave fire by beating it to death with a wet towel and screaming at the top of my lungs while neighbors called 911. In short: never again. Also: still have no idea how to bake a cake.
6. Honey Nut Cheerios/Honey OH’s/Raisin Bran/All that other healthy sh*t you love because of fiber
They’re just here so I don’t get fined or have to go to another editorial meeting in which my boss berates me for missing his favorite cereal of all time (The OH’s), even though no one eats that cereal because there’s something that feels particularly wrong about munching on graham crackers with a weird crusted over gel in the middle. Personally, I feel that there could be more productive uses of my time than arguing about this, but I wasn’t allowed to take lunch until we’d had it out, so I’d prefer not to make that same mistake again. Honey Oh’s are delicious! So great!
5. Waffle Crisp
I haven’t eaten this cereal in years–because my parents thought it was too expensive–but here’s a surprising fact: It’s still being made. And you could eat it today if you’d like. As an adult, though, it might not be such a great idea — considering that my fondness of the cereal comes from my memories of it being 100 percent sugar.
4. Cookie Crisp
Literally tiny cookies that you soak in milk and then eat. This is a cereal. A cereal you’re supposed to eat regularly. Just its existence gives anti-obesity crusaders like Michelle Obama nightmares.
3. Reese’s Puffs
(Please watch that video. Reese’s Puffs are deep in the rap game.)
Candy for breakfast. You loved it when you were a kid, you love it as an adult. It’s still in production and readily available. And it turns your milk into peanut butter chocolate! If you’re going to eat one chocolate-based cereal for breakfast, don’t make mistakes: Cocoa Puffs may claim you’ll go cuckoo, but Reese’s Puffs will make every morning feel like the one right after Halloween.
FYI: a plastic baggie full of these is considered actual currency at most middle schools.
See also: Cocoa Puffs. Basically the same thing, just no peanut butter or chill branding. But, you know, you can’t go wrong either way.
2. Fruity Pebbles
Last year, this cereal came in at number two, and though I agonized where to place it this year — my ruminations included a deranged call to my husband at work, leading to an uncomfortable conversation about when it’s appropriate to call during business hours — in the end, it had to remain in the “almost there but not quite” spot reserved for cult favorites that will remain beloved for centuries (the amount of time it take this stuff to bio-degrade) but will never quite get top billing. And you know what? That’s okay, because it means people ae still eating it, loving it, and enjoying every last drop of the sugar milk it leaves behind.
1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
There are no actual words to describe the magic that this cereal is. It tastes good dry, it tastes good wet, it turns your milk into a cinnamon-sugar experience that you wouldn’t share with your own mother if she were dying of thirst (assuming your relationship with your mother is solid). While I fail to believe this cereal has any nutritional value whatsoever, the taste is so out of this world that some people (read: me) have been known to eat entire boxes in one sitting. Only to go back and eat another box for dinner (Curse you Costco!).
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