It was the 90's and all was chill. Bill Clinton was president, cell phones hadn't fully caught on, I was a terrible mother to my pet Tamagotchi, and we were eating cookies for breakfast.
It seems like only yesterday when I first tried Cookie Crisp the morning after an elementary school slumber party. I wasn't really allowed to eat it at home, so this experience was dear to me —a secret I would tell no one, especially not my mom. Honestly, it's not even my favorite cereal, but the fact that these tiny little cookies swimming in sweet cold milk could be my breakfast was a peculiar victory in itself. This was back during a time when my mother, like most, thought that Special K or Frosted Mini Wheats were healthy alternatives to the barrage of sugary cereals blasting by every TV commercial break. Truthfully, these were only slightly "healthier," with marginally less sugar.
But, what did we know? It was the 90's and all was chill. Bill Clinton was president, cell phones hadn't fully caught on, I was a terrible mother to my pet Tamagotchi, and we were eating cookies for breakfast. I shiver a mix of equal parts hyper-sentimentality and gross unease, to think of such chill-ness. My parents were doing what they thought was good by eating Kashi granola and those weird Kashi frozen pizzas. I and my comrades were still very much hyped on a tight bowl of cereal. Anyone else just "go outside" for literally hours and hours on end with no real boundaries except to be home when the streetlights came on? Sweet times.
Anyway, I'm not here to talk about the health benefits of breakfast cereal, because we all know it's damn good, and pouring yourself a late night bowl of Lucky Charms conjures up intense feelings of elation. I'm here to discuss the quality, the value, the deliciousness of these cereals. I'm here to give a report, based on qualitative evidence, collected through a research study using East Fork Pottery employees, in which an organized and prioritized list of classic breakfast cereals is rolled out. This is our definitive ranking.
1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
By a landslide, and for good reason. These sugary, cinnamon-y, little squares pack a serious punch. Don't you love it when you get a spoonful and they are all magically stacked and perfectly milky, like little angels glistening on your spoon? They soak up milk to the perfect degree, without loosing all structure, and the sweetness level is on point. There is not a whole lot of negative criticism when it comes to CTC, because it is a nearly perfect cereal, and that is something we can all agree on. It has a lot going for it and a lot of x-factor. As Jeff points out, "I'm on that CT Crunch and here's why: no other cereal leaves behind a delicious milky sludge!" Thanks, Jeff.
2. Grape Nuts
Extremely hesitant to publicize that a good chunk of our company is super into Grape Nuts, but I cannot sugar coat this. Wink, wink. Last time I checked it was shredded cardboard but others seem to believe differently. Zoe, John, and Alex picked GN first, and Jo and Kyle concurred in loving them, even though it wasn't their first choice. They all seem to have rose-colored glasses on for these fiberous pellets. John says to Alex, "Do you really love Grape Nuts? Cause you and me should sit down sometime for a bowl. Aside from my grandmother, I haven't met anyone else who likes them. Hot tip — the Ingles brand is called "Nutty Nuggets," and that's just plain fun. You mix 'em half and half with some bran flakes — you got a real fiber blast." Thanks, John.
3. Lucky Charms
Humble little cheerio dudes, but with a bounty of multi-colored and shaped marshmallows? Yes, please. It's one of the classics, it's got a great track record, we know it, we love it, and it's here to stay. Lucky Charms came in just below Grape Nuts, and I have a feeling it has to do with ratio. They could throw about a cup more marshmallows in per box and nobody would complain, you know? The milk leftover from this cereal is also particularly tasty. The earthiness of the cereal combined with the sugary marshmallow is one of the most complimentary, sought-after juxtapositions in culinary history, and bonus points for it having one of the best names out there.
4. Golden Grahams
A very, very high quality, top performing cereal. Nothing like a Golden Graham, am I right? Ridged and crispy little squares hold up nicely in a bowl of cold milk. Although, even the soggy ones are a delight. The graham flour and honey really comes through and offers up a nice round flavor profile. There is something so umami about Golden Grahams, and a big bowl of them really satisfies. Not a whole lot of negative feedback, but it could be argued that they are boring. Also, great straight outta the bag as snack.
A surprise, indeed! I had never even tasted Oh's, but both Erin and Jo have a deep place in their hearts for these Cheerio shaped buddies. Jo says, "They taste like deliciousness. It's like a sweet corn vessel filled with oats, honey and graham. I thought they stopped making it but found a box a few weeks ago and it's not as good as it used to be." Erin says, "I'd say they taste faintly of honey with little crunchy bits stuck to the exterior. It's all about the crunch. I feel like they could sit in milk for a week and still be crunchy." The O shaped mimicker of Golden Grahams? Perhaps, it's inconsistency through the years is this cereal's downfall.
6. Raisin Bran
We love you, Nicole, and support your choices. A hearty bowl of Raisin Bran, does a body good. Also, the raisins are extra sugary, which is a selling point to this cereal. Sometimes the bran is too crunchy and cuts up your mouth, though. Doesn't soak up milk that well. Overall, an A - O.K. cereal.
7. Honey Nut Cheerios
If Erin didn't like Oh's, this would have been her next choice. A fan, myself. Simple and satisfying. Babies eat them and so do we. A light sweetness and an oaty finish.
8. Froot Loops
A true classic, but a divisive one. Sarah, I'm happy you stand by Froot Loops when they need you most. The fruitiness is an acquired taste and the donut shapes definitely limit your intake per spoon, but the flavor is there and they were a staple in many a pantry. Not a bad cereal. Would look very cute in this. Very edgy how they spelled fruit.
9. Corn PopsMy ultimate favorite and nobody else's. A sucker for things that are made of corn and sweet, I am a huge Corn Pops fan. I adore the way they float on top of the cereal, allowing you to plunge them deeper into the milk to reach your desired sogginess. Also, arguably boring. Kinda foamy.
10. SmacksConnie like 'em best.
LAST PLACE WITH ZERO VOTES:
11. Frosted Mini Wheats
12. Special K
13. Apple Jacks
14. Frosted Flakes
15. Coco Puffs
16. Capt. Crunch
Now, please enjoy this extremely low quality Cinnamon Toast Crunch commercial from the 80's featuring a young Jenny Lewis.