The Top 10 Best Breakfast Cereals (As Ranked by Reddit)
If you look up the word "cereal" in the dictionary, you'll find it means "a grain used for food, such as wheat, oats, or corn." However, if you ask the average American on the streets to define cereal, they might give you a slightly different explanation.
True, most of today's breakfast cereals are made from "cereal" crops. But what tends to come to mind when we hear the word are bowls of brightly-colored, sugary breakfast food swimming in milk.
Humans have been soaking grains in water or milk and consuming them for thousands of years. For example, rice porridge in China has been documented goingback 4,500 years. However, these grains were usually cooked in the liquid to soften them and then served warm. The concept of toasting grains into hard pellets and serving them in a cold bowl of milk to soften them is a 19th-century American invention.
Though today's breakfast cereals are associated with mischievous rabbits, magical leprechauns, and talking tigers, the food group was pioneered by conservative, religious vegetarians who owned health spas. The first cold cereal is credited to James Caleb Jackson, who called his graham flour concoction "granula." In order to chew granula, you first had to soak it overnight in milk or water.
John Harvey Kellog invented his own "granula" recipe a few years later. But after Jackson threatened to sue, he changed the name to granola. Kellogg believed that a well-balanced diet free from spices, flavor, and sugar promoted proper bowel movements and could prevent various health problems, from epilepsy to acne. He developed cornflakes with his brother Will, who insisted on adding sugar to the recipe.
Breakfast cereals took off quickly after that, becoming a staple of American breakfast tables by the 1950s. Today, there are whole supermarket aisles full of options. But which are America's favorites?
We asked the good people on Reddit to share their opinion. From classic Honey Nut Cheerios to the colorful Fruity Pebbles, discover which cereals made the cut and see how they stack up against each other.
#10 Fruity Pebbles
Coming in at number 10, Fruity Pebbles checks all the boxes for a classic breakfast favorite: brightly colored, crunchy, and sweet, non-specific "fruity" flavor. If what's in the box doesn't pack nostalgia for you, then what's on it certainly will. Since 1971, Fred Flintstone of the popular cartoonThe Flintstoneshas been the cereal's official mascot. For many people, nothing takes them back to their childhoods like sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of sugary cereal and watching Saturday morning cartoons.
In 2021, Fruity Pebbles sold 54.1 million boxes.
According to user u/misskellylynn: "The milk after is my favorite part of Fruity Pebbles!"
#9 Quaker Life Cinnamon
When you bring up Quaker in a discussion about breakfast cereal, most people will probably think of oatmeal. However, the company also produces a cold cereal called Quaker Life. Quaker Life Cereal comes in a variety of flavors, including chocolate and vanilla, but cinnamon seems to be the most popular by far.
User u/misskellylynn chimed in again with "Cinnamon Life. Forever." User u/jmkoll added. "I do love Cinnamon Life."
It seems the general population agrees. Quaker Life sold 58.1 million boxes in 2021.
#8 Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats
Shredded wheat cereal was first developed in Denver, Colorado, by Mr. Henry Perky. Originally, shredded wheat was sold in large biscuits that were made to be soaked in milk until they were soft enough to eat. One Shredded Wheat Biscuit was meant to be enough food for a full meal.
In 1972, Kellogg's introduced the first Mini-Wheats, though the bite-sized cereal we eat today didn't hit the market until 1980. The original-size Mini-Wheats were renamed "Big Bites" in the 1990s.
Over 71.3 million boxes of Frosted Mini-Wheats were sold in 2021. According to Reddit user u/icoulduseadrink_or5, you should try them mixed with raisin bran tasty texturally diverse combination.
#7 Kellogg's Fruit Loops
The other colorful, fruit-flavored cereal in Reddit's top ten list is Fruit Loops, also produced by Kellogg. Froot Loops sold a total of 91.7 million boxes in 2021.
There's a lot to love about Fruit Loops. First, they've got that classic hoop shape that makes them great for crafting as well as snacking. Plus, the rainbow of colors leaves your milk pleasantly tie-dyed when you're finished (even if all the colors are the same flavor).
"Imo, they're one of the best cereals to eat dry," says user u/picklesupreme.
#6 Lucky Charms
Lucky Charms are one of the most iconic cereals on supermarket shelves, thanks to the fun marshmallow surprises. If you're like many kids, you probably have memories of digging through the oat cereal to get those stars, moons, hearts, and clovers.
Lucky Charms sold 86.4 boxes of cereal in 2021. According to use u/BevLive, they're not just popular in America but around the globe.
"I can't get it often because it's really expensive in the UK, but omg it's just so good!" she writes.
#5 Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Starting off the top 5 for Reddit's favorite breakfast cereals is Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Why just have cereal when you can have two breakfasts in one? Known for being the cereal with "the taste you can see," you might also recognize the brand for its somewhat bizarre commercials where the pieces try to eat each other.
Super sugary cereals are a classic, but one of the reasons Cinnamon Toast Crunch ranks so high might be because it knows how to temper its sweetness. When asked about the best cereal, user u/mowega said, "Cinnamon Toast Crunch because Fruity Pebbles and Lucky Charms are too sugary." User u/VortexRL249 added: "Perfect amount of sweetness and not too unhealthy."
It's the first cereal on our list to break 100 million, having sold 105.2 million boxes in 2021.
#4 Honey Bunches of Oats
Honey Bunches of Oats strikes the perfect balance between sweet and healthy. Many varieties also include nuts to add some protein and heart-healthy fats to your morning. It must be a pretty popular breakfast staple, seeing as it sold 111.3 boxes in 2021.
For almost 40 years, Diana Hunter—a real Post cereal employee—served as the ambassador for Honey Bunches of Oats in the company's commercial. Her buoyant enthusiasm and oversized glasses helped her win the hearts of America's consumers.
Reddit user u/Uhhlaneuh describes it as her favorite "adult cereal."
#3 Kellogg's Frosted Flakes
There's a reason Frosted Flakes are in Reddit's Top 3 Favorite Cereals. Like their mascot, Tony the Tiger, says, "They're grrrreat!"
Frosted Flakes are a tried and true classic, lightly sweet without being overbearing. As user u/ughhhfine says: "Frosted Flakes! Seems one of the more boring choices, but it's a classic that I never get tired of."
Frosted Flakes sold 132.3 million boxes in 2021.
#2 Honey Nut Cheerios
All the best cereal brands have a mascot. In the case of Honey Nut Cheerios, it's an adorable anthropomorphic bee named Buzz. He can usually be seen on the box and in commercials adding a dollop of sweetness to your breakfast with a honey dipper.
Honey Nut Cheerios sold 129.3 million boxes in 2021. This might be because the sugary cereal eaters of the 90s are getting older and still want to satisfy their cravings for a sweet breakfast while being more conscious of their health. User u/whoopity-scoop-poop says: "As I've gotten older, I've really grown to love and appreciate Honey Nut Cheerios. They are so darn good."
It's probably not a shock that this classic comes in as number one. Everyone from babies starting solid foods to older adults trying to watch their cholesterol can enjoy this tried and true breakfast staple. In 2021, over 139.1 million boxes of Cheerios were sold.
Redditors agree that this cereal is a cut above the rest. As user u/cuppa_tea_4_me says, "Just plain Cheerios in the yellow box. Every kid's first cereal."
One thing is for certain: whether you want an ultra-sweet start to your day or prefer something a little healthier in the morning, cereal is part of a complete breakfast.
Do you agree with Reddit’s rankings? What’s your favorite breakfast cereal? Let us know in the comments!