Last week, the old people reading newspapers and old people reading the internet were disgusted and embarrassed at the behavior of millennials again. What did they have left to ruin after cars and broken windows policing and Jesus? According to the New York Times, millennials committed the gravest sin of all in rejecting breakfast cereal, a covenant handed down by nostalgia-ridden parents who figured if they loved nutrition-less processed garbage pushed by cartoon characters, their children would do the same even into adulthood.
Panicky sliding sales figures were thrown around, the specter of kids and their damn gluten allergies was invoked and a dark future where kids weren’t tricked into drinking sugar milk by cartoon animals was forecast. The one thing the story about millennials leaving cereal behind in the Dumpster of history where it belongs forgot was asking actual millennials why they were making this reasonable choice. We did though, and the results were stunning in their pragmatism. Millennials, as it turns out, aren’t ditching cereal because it takes too long to clean up: they’re hip to the fact that cereal is expensive, processed, unfulfilling trash that lacks the ability to actually get you through the day. In short, they’ve realized it’s a disgusting fraud.
Cereal executives are trying to capture “the all-powerful and elusive millennial eater,” according to the Times, which to be fair makes pushing trash food sound like something exciting like looking for the Loch Ness monster. Unlike the Loch Ness monster, who doesn’t sit for interviews, we found some Real Life millennials to weigh in on cereal for breakfast.
“Cereal has never been a fulfilling breakfast for me,” said Liz Alpern, 31, co-owner of artisanal Eastern European Jewish food company The Gelfiteria. “I ditched it like 15 years ago.”
Her comments about the breakfast decisions being made by the modern millennial were echoed by our own glitter correspondent Madelyn Owens, 28, of Crown Heights, who said “Cereal takes just as much time, effort, and dishes as oatmeal or granola and yogurt/fruit, both of which are way more delicious and filling,”
Re: The Cereal Article. Cereal is terrible. It's basically cardboard or sugar.
— Stephen Lea Sheppard (@SLSheppard) February 24, 2016
Considering it’s been pushed for years as a way to launch you into the day with all the power of a functional hyperdrive system, the fact that you eat a bowl of cereal and don’t feel anything close to full once you’re done is a huge strike against cereal.
That’s because for all of cereal’s many alleged advantages (copious amounts of sugar, cartoon characters willing to lie to children to make them slaves of Big Sugar), it’s as good for your body as eating cardboard flakes covered in honey, and millennials recognize this.
“I don’t eat it for breakfast because it doesn’t have enough protein,” said 28-year-old Virginia Smith of Bushwick, a senior editor at BrickUndeground.
Protein of course, is important for keeping your body moving and not internally falling apart like so many crumbling subway stations. Even relatively “healthy” cereals like Rice Krispies or Cheerios have just two and three grams of protein per serving, which will leave you tired and unable to think clearly and generally falling apart on the inside. Relying on cereal for a good breakfast is the food equivalent of Andrew Cuomo raiding the MTA for years and just figuring there won’t be consequences like crumbling tunnels and delayed trains. Smith instead goes with cottage cheese (which lacks fiber but comes packed with 12 grams of protein per serving) or yogurt (which comes with up to 14 grams of protein per serving)
Cereal also does a shitty job of getting you the precious fiber your body needs to feel full. You know what’s inexpensive, does a better job of filling you up and is easy to eat on the go? Apples, good old fashioned apples. The cereal industry can claim all they want that their trash Apple Jacks (12 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber per serving) is a good way to get apples, but you could also just eat an actual apple, which is what graphic designer Angela Gelso, 30, says she turns to.
“[An apple] contains pectin, which is very filling,” she said, while also adding that you avoid weird processed crap.
Speaking of weird processed crap, all of that refining contributes to cereal’s relatively enormous cost. That price per box was pegged as a great reason to ditch it by Fort Greene’s Brian Pennington, 37, who became a millennial by osmosis by DJing for so many of them as a DJ at Head On and Feeling Gloomy parties.
“I ditched cereal because it just was one more expensive industrially manufactured thing in my diet,” he said.
No one buys your breakfast cereal because it's expensive, heavily processed and chemical-laden, not because we're "too lazy to make cereal"
— Indie Claws (@Skullcat) February 26, 2016
Of course, for all the unhealthy aspects of cereal that we’ve mentioned, being bad for you isn’t a disqualifying aspect of any food in America. Far more offensive than cereal’s negative health aspects is that for a garbage food that comes with maybe three or four servings in a box, cereal is shockingly expensive. In this era of depressed wages and crushing rent burdens, the thought of paying $4.59 for a box of Frosted Flakes or $5.49 for a box of Cheerios for a box of cereal that you’ll be done with in two hunger-filled mornings is enough to make you blackout with rage.
“I switched to a shake in the morning. I burn through cereal too fast and I’m hungry shortly after,” said school teacher David Prince, 31, of Forest Hills, pointing out the glaringly obvious deficiencies of this alleged breakfast.
And in case you thought this kind of thinking was limited to the New York City bubble we all live in, we found other Real Life millennials from other cities who’ve set fire to the cereal bandwagon before jumping off of it.
“Cereal for breakfast? I’ve been over that trend since 1989,” said Detroit resident Rachel Frierson, 29.
And despite our strained relationship with the people of Philadelphia, Philly resident Sarah Baicker, 30, told us, “It’s not filling. When I eat breakfast I don’t want to be hungry, like, an hour later. I guess I’m also aware that a lot of cereals really aren’t very good for you, either.”
Answering the ridiculous claim that the Times leaned on while waving around a survey that said 40 percent of millennials don’t eat cereal because then they have to do dishes afterward, Lisa Hagen, 29, a reporter at Atlanta’s WABE told us “I eat spam, rice, egg and kim chee for breakfast. Count the dishes.” She described the dish as an incredibly filling breakfast.
Boomers: “Hey Millennials, maybe wash the cereal bowl right away?”
Millennials: “We can’t even afford bowls!”
GenX: [Eats cereal silently]
— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) February 29, 2016
Hagen, who originally hails from Hawaii, also theorized that she’s “an example of millennials increasingly having varied cultural breakfast backgrounds,” which would be bad news for the lie-filled cereal industry given the increasingly diverse millennial population in America.
So there you have it, Real Life millennials have spoken out on cereal and the answer is a resounding “expensive trash food that makes a terrible breakfast.” You’d think that millennials being the first generation to understand the fraud being perpetrated by Frosted Flakes and Cheerios would put them in line for a parade or at least a hearty handshake, but being right, like they were about spider-filled cars, will have to be its own delicious reward.
So is cereal a quick energy boost or disgusting expensive garbage food? Speak up in the comments!
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