For years, milk and cereal has remained the quintessential American breakfast food — and it's no surprise why. Cereal, after all, is sweet, simple and satisfying, making it the perfect food to kickstart your early mornings.
Breakfast cereals first gained popularity in 1863, when James Caleb Jackson — a nutritionist and revered "health reformer" — released a dry whole grain cereal called Granula. Unlike most modern-day cereals, Granula was devoid of sugar and instead, made from just graham flour and bran. Because it was both hard and dry, Granula had to be soaked in milk for at least 20 minutes before it could be eaten.
At the time, cereals were commonly touted as an alternative medicine to treat illness. But that changed in the early 20th century, when cereals became more akin to dessert, primarily thanks to enticing additives. Today, there's a plethora of tasty cereals to choose from, including sweetened corn flakes, sweetened rice puffs and, yes, even mini chocolate chip cookies.
To help round up the top 10 breakfast cereals, Salon Food consulted the trusty folks at Reddit, who have very strong opinions about which cereal(s) reign supreme.
From Honey Nut Cheerios to Fruity Pebbles, here are the top 10 cereals ranked from least to most favorite:
An overwhelming majority of cereal enthusiasts agreed that the fruity, crispy rice cereal is too sugary (although we don't think that's really an issue!). Others, however, begged to differ, saying that the cereal is not only tasty, but also incredibly nostalgic.
"I know it's total junk, but I have a soft spot for Fruity Pebbles," wrote user u/dapamico. "Mostly because that's what my grandma always had for us grandkids when we spent the night. It still reminds me of her house."
Fruity Pebbles sold 54.1 million boxes in 2021, per an infographic from Kulick's French Toast Recipes. The cereal also made $172.3 million in sales on an annual basis.
The plain-flavored whole grain Quaker Oats cereal is not a popular choice, but that's not the case for its cinnamon version, called Quaker Life Cinnamon!
"I'll eat a whole box of Cinnamon Life if no one stopped me," wrote user u/misskellylynn. "Especially without milk." Similarly, user u/Celexxia shared that Cinnamon Life is their go-to cereal to munch on as a snack.
58.1 million boxes of Quaker Life were sold in 2021. The cereal sold for $177.5 million in sales on an annual basis.
Following Quaker Life is Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats, which sold 71.3 million boxes in 2021 and made $241.9 million in annual sales. The frosted mini-wheats are also well-loved by Redditors, who recommended mixing the cereal with other name-brand cereals.
"For breakfast though, my favorite bowl is half mini wheats and half raisin bran," wrote user u/icoulduseadrink_or5. "That combo is really filling and texturally diverse so it's tasty and interesting and I only need one bowl."
Toucan Sam's colorful fruit-flavored cereal tastes great on its own or in homemade desserts, like ice cream squares, 'fried' ice cream bars and fiesta cookies. A few Redditors raved about the cereal's taste and its distinct smell, which makes it all the more appealing.
"They have such a unique smell," wrote user u/SendMeApplePie. "You can say something smells like Froot Loops and nearly everyone can identify with it."
Froot Loops sold 91.7 million boxes in 2021 and made $269.1 million in annual sales.
Another colorful cereal, Lucky Charms is greatly loved for its mini melt-in-your-mouth marshmallows. The cereal sold 86.4 million boxes in 2021 and made $283.4 million in annual sales.
On Reddit, Lucky Charms is a fan-favorite cereal to enjoy for breakfast and as a snack. Some Redditors also claimed the original Lucky Charms, which made its debut in 1964, is better than the new and flavored Lucky Charms cereals.
"Lucky charms but when it only had orange stars, yellow moons, pink hearts and green clovers," wrote user u/Cluefuljewel. "They should go back to basics."
This cinnamon-flavored whole grain cereal sold 105.2 million boxes in 2021 and made $344.3 million in annual sales. The cereal is incredibly versatile and can also be enjoyed in trail mix alongside nuts, chocolate and popcorn!
"Cinnamon toast crunch it got the taste that you can see," wrote user u/spacesoulboi. Others shared that the cereal tastes great with non-dairy milk, namely almond milk.
This deliciously sweet corn flakes and granola cereal is what I grew up eating as a child, so it deserves to take home the top award. And although Redditors also love the cereal, they didn't love it enough to grant it a spot in the top three.
The best way to enjoy Honey Bunches of Oats is with almonds and blueberries, per a suggestion from user u/LeoThyroxine.
Honey Bunches of Oats sold 111.3 million boxes in 2021 and made $375.2 million in annual sales.
Frosted Flakes sold 132.3 million boxes in 2021 and made $412.6 million in annual sales. In addition to the original flavor, the cereal also comes in chocolate, marshmallow and strawberry milkshake varieties.
"Frosted Flakes [have] been my favorite since I was a little girl," wrote user u/road_runners_usa. "Nowadays, I only have it every once in a while. But, when I do, I still enjoy it very much."
The cereal sold 129.3 million boxes in 2021 and made $421.7 million in annual sales. Honey Nut Cheerios is a popular choice amongst Redditors, who suggested eating the cereal with sliced fruit, like bananas or strawberries.
"Honey Nut Cheerios BUT with sliced bananas in it," wrote user u/CityOfSins2. "Soooooooo good. Thanks to my mama for teaching me it lol."
The top spot goes to Cheerios — the tasty and heart healthy cereal. Cheerios sold 139.1 million boxes in 2021 and made $435.9 million in annual sales.
"Cheerios, but not for the Os," user u/twopacktuesday. "Rather, the leftover sugar at the bottom of the bowl after you're done eating is some unicorn heaven sludge." Similarly, user u/GewdandBaked said, "I am also a fan of cheerios! It's the subtle hint of sweetness that gets me. Not a huge sugar enthusiast when it comes to the mornings haha."