Haste makes waste

Breakfast cereals are not for everyone. I myself rarely eat them, mainly because I find I get tired of it after a couple of days. Also, the cereal I eat when I do choose to do so is corn flakes that requires adding sugar and I am not a fan of eating sweet things in the morning. But what surprised me was this story that said that many younger people are turning away from cereal because it takes too much work.

Few things are as painless to prepare as cereal. Making it requires little more than pouring something (a cereal of your choice) into a bowl and then pouring something else (a milk of your choice) into the same bowl. Eating it requires little more than a spoon and your mouth. The food, which Americans still buy $10 billion of annually, has thrived over the decades, at least in part, because of this very quality: its convenience.

And yet, for today’s youth, cereal isn’t easy enough.

The industry, the piece explained, is struggling — sales have tumbled by almost 30 percent over the past 15 years, and the future remains uncertain. And the reasons are largely those one would expect: Many people are eating breakfast away from the home, choosing breakfast sandwiches and yogurt instead of more traditional morning staples. Many others, meanwhile, too busy to pay attention to their stomachs, are eating breakfast not at all.

But there is another thing happening, which should scare cereal makers — and, really, anyone who has a stake in this country’s future — more: A large contingent of millennials are uninterested in breakfast cereal because eating it means using a bowl, and bowls don’t clean themselves (or get tossed in the garbage). Bowls, kids these days groan, have to be cleaned.

I tend to be leery of “kids these days!” articles since they often consist of over-generalizations. But if true, the downside to this trend is that the alternatives that save work also tend to be less healthy for you and create more packaging waste, such as coffee pods, a modern example of the old aphorism of haste makes waste.



  1. says

    To be fair, cereals are largely bogus (a bit of reading about the Kellogg brothers and Post is highly amusing) The whole idea that cereal is a healthy breakfast, or that breakfast is an important meal, etc -- that’s all early 20th century pseudoscience and a lot of the people involved with it were extremely creepy.

    For me, breakfast remains waffles and bacon and syrup. So I don’t eat breakfast often. When I do, it’s usually around 2:00pm.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    To be fair.
    The idea of eating something shortly after you awaken (before you go out to gather the mammoth or hunt the berries) is sound and sensible.
    If you’re just schlepping over to the computer, acuppacoffee is probably OK.

  3. Jake Harban says

    I don’t have enough spoons to prepare multiple meals per day, so breakfast usually falls by the wayside.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Ick. Breakfast cereal is only edible because one does *not* add sugar.

    Also, K-cups are evil, but refillable K-cups exist. You can get the coffee you want (hell, you can grind it yourself), and put it in a refillable deally, and get better coffee than they want to sell you.

    Which you can then drink while eating your non-sweetened cornflakes, or wheaties, or grape-nuts. Sugar on breakfast stuff is just nasty. unless it is real maple syrup on pancakes, in which it is sufficient to declare war to defend.

  5. KG says

    As an adoptive Scot, I really ought to eat porridge for breakfast (without sugar of course), but I can’t stand the stuff. Usually I eat bread, mock (i.e. vegan) cheese and walnuts, but sometimes go so far toward my patriotic duty as to pour a little warm water on some oats, add raisins and walnuts, stir, and eat the result.

  6. hoary pucoon says

    Ya know, you are not absolutely required to add sugar to sugar-free cereal. You can get used to it without sugar. Or add fresh fruit, instead.

  7. Blood Knight in Sour Armor says

    Cereal is just far too tedious to eat… you have to sit their chewing on it forever and scraping it into your mouth interferes with reading internet posts. Compare to toast or poptarts where they can be gobbled down in seconds. I’ve pretty much given up on it in favor of peanut butter sandwiches.

  8. Holms says

    I must be weird then, because on the rare occasion I bother with breakfast, it is usually Weetbix with no additives other than milk.

  9. blf says

    My “default” breakfast tends to alternate between sausage and eggs,; or an omelette (or, when things go wrong, something like a frittata) filled with whatever oddments I have on hand; or scrambled eggs. All of which takes some time and effort to prepare, and results in dirty dishes, pans, etc. Occasionally I’ll make pancakes instead, from scratch, which takes more time and results in even more stuff to clean. Or have a bowel of muesli, usually with added fresh fruit, and always with soured milk or yoghurt, so there isn’t much to clean and next-to-no preparation time. Thesedays, the muesli is always store-bought, but some yonks ago I tended to makemix it myself. For some reason I almost never now make porridge, albeit I used to do that a fair amount.

    If I’m in a hurry, then I’ll usually pop down to the cafe (after buying some dead-tree newspapers) and have croissant(s), coffee, and orange juice whilst skimming the papers. (The papers are read sometime later, at lunch, dinner, or in the pub.) This can be done in as little as ten minutes — I have it timed quite well, as the next step tends to be to catch the bus.

    Weirdly, perhaps, one of my favourite breakfasts is a platter of sliced meats and different breads. I almost never make that myself, typically because I rarely have sliced meats (or more than one bread) at-hand.

  10. says

    Only slightly tangential, but even as a kid I recognized the awful messages cereal commercials were foisting on us. Lucky Charms taught us it’s okay to steal from someone who is different from us, and the one that really stuck in my craw was Trix where we were taught that it’s okay to bully and exclude someone because they were different. Let the damned rabbit have some Trix, for fuck’s sake!

    Those commercials bugged the hell out of me.

  11. Marshall says

    I have an hour-long commute, so I try to leave for work as early as possible. It’s true that eating a bowl of cereal would only take 3 minutes or so--but that means having to leave 3 minutes later for work, which means increased chance of hitting bad rush hour traffic near the tail-end of my commute.

    I instead opt for yogurt and granola in a tupperware that I pre-make the night before, and I eat it once I get to work. Cereal doesn’t travel well, although I do enjoy it.

  12. anat says

    I am in search for breakfast that will keep me from feeling extremely hungry before noon (if I can delay hunger to one o’clock it is even better, gives me more flexibility) while not being high in calories, and especially no added sugar and little if any saturated fat.

    These days breakfast consists of a handful of raw broccoli (need those cruciforms), followed by 2 servings of fruit topped with plain yogurt. I tried oatmeal in the past, but found it both untasty and unsatisfying.

  13. Mano Singham says


    I find that a mini-croissant (that weighs 1 oz) and a cup of coffee for breakfast keep me going until at least 1:00 pm or later. But I am someone who eats very little in general so this may not work for everyone.

    I once had a colleague in physics who had only coffee and cigarettes the whole day and had his one meal in the evening. I lost touch with him 30 years ago and don’t know if that strange diet had any lasting effect.

  14. Lofty says

    Without a decent breakfast, how do you get the proper chunks-on-the-screen look after reading a bad joke?

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