Every single meaningful cereal ever, ranked
I love cereal. Like, love-love it. I eat three to four bowls of cereal a day. Am I proud of that fact? Yes, of course I am. But just eating a lot of it didn’t make me an expert, so I have spent the last few months really digging into all sorts of cereals, expanding my milk-soaked palate to include Whole Foods specialties, little weird boxes of fancy cereal from England and Switzerland, and even Wheat Chex. And after all is said and done, here is my definitive ranking of all the important cereals in the world. Note: if there are endless variations of a cereal (see: Cheerios, Honey Bunches of Oats, etc.) I only included the vital ones.
After reading, please join me in the comments section for a healthy discussion of why I’m stupid for putting Cookie Crisp where I did, but for now, dig in:
88. Kellogg’s All-Bran
If they were trying to replicate rabbit poo, they did an exceptional job.
87. Post Shredded Wheat
I refuse to believe anyone has actually eaten this.
86. Weetabix Whole Grain Biscuit Cereal
It’s the highest-selling cereal in Britain. NOTE: NOT a compliment.
85. Post Bran Flakes
At least they’re flakes?
84. General Mills Fiber One
Also rabbit poo shaped, but somehow slightly more palatable.
83. General Mills Wheat Chex
The Stephen Baldwin of the Chex family.
82. Kellogg’s Product 19
Quick story! In 1967, Kellogg's developed a flake to compete with Total, but the creative assigned to name it couldn’t think of anything. But, in a flash of whatever the opposite of creative genius is, he opted for Product 19, because -- get this -- it was THE 19TH PRODUCT THEY WERE DEVELOPING THAT YEAR. Anyway, it’s not that great.
81. General Mills Total
Slightly better than 19.
80. Quaker Cap'n Crunch Oops! All Berries
In high school, I had a box of these in my locker, and would occasionally eat them for lunch. People thought it was awesome. It wasn’t. The berries without the normal Crunch are just too damn sweet, but I was just insecure enough to not want to mention that, so I ate the whole damn box and felt sick. High school is difficult.
79. Kashi GOLEAN Crunch!
Stale, hardened Honey Smacks.
78. Uncle Sam Cereal Original
I have nothing against a cereal that has existed since 1908 and remains extremely patriotic. I do, however, have an issue with just eating whole wheat kernels, whole flaxseed, salt, and barley malt.
77. Kellogg’s Chocolate Krave
As you’ll soon see from the rankings, I don’t like chocolate cereals much, so I’m not 100% fired up about a cereal that just stuffs a fun-size chocolate bar into normal cereal. Although I guess I probably should be?
76. Kellogg’s Smart Start
This cereal came out in 1998. That's the most positive thing I can say about it.
75. Kashi 7 Whole Grain Nuggets Cereal
Rich man’s Grape Nuts is just not as good.
74. General Mills Wheaties
Sorry Michael Jordan.
73. Familia Swiss Muesli Original Recipe
At least it’s better than the one with no sugar added.
72. Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes
71. Kellogg’s Nut N Honey
Great “Who’s On First”-style commercials in the '80s.
70. Post Grape-Nuts Flakes
The Joey spinoff of Grape-Nuts.
69. Food for Life Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin
“Take also unto thee wheat and barley and beans and lentils and millet and spelt and put them in one vessel... then maybe add some cinnamon and raisins or whatever the kids are eating these days.” - Ezekiel
68. General Mills Basic 4
No one really cares if they’re getting something from each of the four food groups.
67. Cascadian Farm Cinnamon Crunch
Just a little too healthy tasting, though I respect the effort.
66. General Mills Frosted Cheerios
Proves frosting doesn’t always solve everything.
65. Trader Joe’s Just The Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola
64. General Mills Reese’s Puffs
This is the cereal version of when you like the book, and then see the movie, and you’re like, “why did they make that into a movie?”.
63. Post Cranberry Almond Crunch
62. Corn Chex
The Daniel Baldwin of the Chex family.
61. Kellogg’s Raisin Bran Crunch
The flakes are different and somehow harder, the raisins don’t have nearly enough sugar on them, and the honey-oat granola clusters are too sweet. Other than that, I love it.
60. Gorilla Munch
Health(ier?) Kix almost got bumped up several spots due to gorilla images, but then I came to my senses/realized I’m terrified of gorillas because they’re eventually going to take over the planet STARTING IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.
59. General Mills Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
There’s only one Apple-based cereal that matters, and it’s not this one.
58. Post Alpha-Bits
Just okay, though I like the premise of spelling things in my spoon.
57. Barbara’s Bakery Puffins Original
Puffins = not as cool as gorillas, though somewhat ironically the cereal tastes better.
56. Post Banana Nut Crunch
[EDITOR'S NOTE: I refuse to discuss Post Selects until we get to the really good versions. This one and the one following are simply JV Post Selects, and don't warrant the full treatment. Apologies for any confusion.]
55. Post Blueberry Morning
This just sounds like a particularly sad James Taylor song.
54. General Mills Cookie Crisp
You know what’s kind of spectacularly dastardly? When you Google “Cookie Crisp” the first thing that comes up is an ad that says “Tired of Cookie Crisps Cereal?” and it’s all about trying Kellogg’s Krave. I don’t think I realized the cold (milk) war going on between General Mills and Kellogg’s until I did this story. Anyway, I want to love Cookie Crisp so badly, but I’ve dropped them, like, 45 spots based on the fact that, if you don’t eat the cereal within the first 120 seconds of it hitting the milk, these things get slimy and gross. Also, the original version made by Ralston had free baseball cards inside, and a mascot wizard named Jarvis with a red hat covered with cookies. Those were the f*cking days, man.
52. General Mills Cocoa Puffs
I just realized, thanks to the Internet, that these things are chocolate Kix. And that Trix are essentially fruity Kix. And that I still don’t love chocolate cereals and there's really no way to change that.
51. Kashi Bear Naked Granola
50. Kellogg’s Special K Red Berries
You know what is not my thing? Freeze-dried fruits that kind of stay weirdly firm in milk, and kind of make you feel like you’re hiking, and Rick ate all the nuts and chocolate out of the trail mix and left you with this.
49. Post Cocoa Pebbles
Way back in 1971, Post was allegedly the first cereal company to use characters from a TV show as the basis for a cereal. Also they’ve spun-off a ton of special editions worth mentioning, based strictly around how hilarious it is picturing the development team pitching them to executives: IceBerry Pebbles, Dino S’mores, Cupcake (“aroma of cupcakes!”), and Pebbles “Boulders”. Also, these are kind of like Rice Krispies, except they get much soggier much faster.
48. General Mills Golden Grahams
47. Nature’s Path Sunrise Crunchy Maple
46. Kellogg’s Special K
I’m never upset that I’m eating Special K, but I’m never that excited either, you know? DO YOU?
45. Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
See Special K. Also, I went abroad to Australia in college, and they called them “Rice Bubbles” and that somehow really messed with me.
44. Post Waffle Crisp
I love waffles so much, so I had really high hopes in 1996 when these came out. And though you get a lot of maple flavoring, you don’t get really any “waffle” action, and so here they sit at 44. I did enjoy the old-lady mascots who allegedly cooked all the cereal individually, despite recognizing how inefficient that would be for profitability and bottom line.
43. General Mills Count Chocula
Despite being a chocolate cereal, Count Chocula sits this high thanks to my love of Transylvanian folklore and marshmallows.
It’s like plain-flavored Trix!
41. General Mills Cinnamon Toast Crunch
Despite the delicious milk they produce, they're still too damn soggy. Also, cinnamon flavoring doesn’t get you far with me, in case you’re taking notes, cereal marketers. Final also, I feel like this is going to be an unpopular rank.
40. Quaker Cinnamon Life
39. General Mills Cheerios
I have pleasant memories of Cheerios, mostly due to the fact that I used to put a spoonful of sugar on my Cheerios because somehow my Mom allowed me to do that, despite being a preschool teacher. Hi Mom!
38. Marshmallow Alpha Bits
Add marshmallows, move up 20 spots in my rankings.
37. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes
I really like Corn Flakes, and feel like I’m the only person under the age of 70 to say that. I’m also pretty sure this was the original Kellogg’s cereal, made by celebrated surgeon Dr. John Harvey Kellogg at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, but marketed by his brother Will for the masses, once he added sugar. This caused a fight between the brothers, and I’m not sure how it was resolved because my research didn’t lead me that far, so I'm just going to speculate that there was some sort of joust. Anyway, you should also enjoy the fact that Kellogg's was originally called the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company.
36. General Mills Franken Berry
Just going to leave you with this: in 1972, University of Maryland Medical School found that the dye used in this breakfast food was not being broken down properly by the body resulting in “Franken Berry Stool”, which was essentially red, um, yeah.
35. Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats
This is a case of frosting actually working out well.
34. Post Golden Crisp
Not quite as good as Honey Smacks. Cool bear though. Almost too cool.
33. Kellogg’s Maple & Brown Sugar Mini-Wheats
A case of innovation upon innovation working out!
32. Honey Nut Cheerios
[EDITOR'S NOTE: People (in my own company) are getting upset that I didn't say anything about Honey Nut. So look, here's the deal -- these things are great. They're sweet, but they're not overly sweet, and they make your milk kind of taste like Winnie the Pooh spilled his jar of honey into it, because he's a klutz, and that bee, while kind of annoying, might've actually raised a boy named Bernard whom you'll learn about later in the rankings. So yes, I didn't mean to give Honey Nut Cheerios short shrift, OKAY GIANNI?!?!?]
31. Engine 2 Rip’s Big Bowl - Original Cereal
This cereal created by a fireman has, like, no sugar or frosting or marshmallows, and yet it kind of makes me feel like I can carry heavy things and rescue puffins from burning buildings and make witty banter with Dennis Leary.
30. General Mills Rice Chex
The Alec Baldwin of the Chex family.
29. Post Fruity Pebbles
Delicious for the first 25 seconds you eat it, soggy after.
28. Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies
Despite the lack of references to Transylvanian folklore, this is my favorite chocolate cereal, mainly because of the milk it creates.
27. Kellogg’s Raisin Bran
Yet another reason I think I actually might just be an old person. This cereal gets increasingly better when you let it sit and get soggy. Also, the sugared raisins are [MAKING THAT NOISE WHEN A CHEF KISSES THEIR TWO FINGERS AND POPS THEM OPEN].
26. Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes
Of course now, Tony the Tiger is just as iconic as these sugar doused flakes, but back in 1951 he had to beat out Katy the Kangaroo, Elmo the Elephant, and Newt the Gnu in a contest for a spot on the new cereal box. Had Newt the Gnu won, I'm pretty sure America would've lost the Cold War.
25. Quaker Cap’n Crunch
I don’t care if they cut up the roof of my mouth in a vicious, purposeful way; they’re still damn delicious.
24. Quaker Life
You know, for awhile, they had Raisin Life, which sounds like a weird A&E show about the quirky, yet dynamic people who pick and dry grapes in Kerman, CA.
23. Post Grape-Nuts
PRO TIP: heat ‘em up in the winter! BONUS PRO TIP: Don't tell people under the age of 50 you eat hot Grape-Nuts in the winter!
22. General Mills Berry Berry Kix
21. Honey Bunches of Oats
20. Kellogg’s Just Right
I liked this cereal much more as kid, when my Dad refused to buy other cereals, and I just had to eat the ones he ate. I think there’s a lesson in that, but I’m too tired to process it.
19. Kellogg’s Touch of Fruit Mixed Berry Mini-Wheats
I am convinced I’m the only person who buys these in all of Northern California, but somehow, the frequency with which I do makes it a solid investment for my grocery store to keep re-upping their order. I’m basically an Econ professor.
18. Kellogg’s Corn Pops
As long as you don’t let these sit long and get weirdly slimy, they really do taste like, um, actually what do these things taste like? Popped sugared corn?!? Also, they were originally called Sugar Pops, which feels like the realest name for a cereal ever.
17. General Mills Boo Berry
Like Franken Berry, but without the medical condition.
16. Kellogg’s Froot Loops
I’m just going to quote from Wikipedia here, because I’m enjoying their patient explanation too much: “The cereal pieces are ring-shaped (hence "loops") and come in a variety of bright colors and a blend of fruit flavors (hence "froot").”
15. Quaker Honey Graham Oh’s
I feel like these were discontinued years ago, and yet I still keep buying old expired boxes from the convenience store down the street from my house. Still tastes good though.
14. Post Great Grains Raisins, Dates, and Pecans
The only version of the high-class Post Selects line (you know it’s expensive because the box is in natural color tones!) that I really enjoy. I eat about a box of this a week, and I don’t look back, even though it has a lot of calories, but I feel like they’re Select Calories, and that makes them healthier.
13. Barbara’s Bakery Shredded Spoonfuls
This is an instance where the fancier version of Life actually tastes even better.
12. Kellogg’s Cracklin' Oat Bran
The only reason I don’t purchase this delicious cereal every time I’m in the grocery store is because, when you look at the nutritional content and see the fat and calories, you kind of get a sneaking suspicion that you’re just eating oatmeal cookies covered in milk.
11. Kellogg’s Honey Smacks
Like a rich man’s version of Sugar Crisp. Great honey notes. The stuff sticks to your hand, and immediately gets stale if you leave it out for over 30 minutes without closing the package. But it’s still kind of the best.
10. Quaker Oatmeal Squares
These will never get soggy.
9. Dorset Cereals Berries & Cherries Muesli
You know how I know I’m bougie? Because this cereal comes in a tiny box and is made in the alarmingly picturesque English village of Poundbury and is hella expensive, and yet, it’s so damn good that I can’t stop buying it and then feeling guilty that I’ve spent so much money on cereal, and then not caring while I’m eating it.
8. Kellogg’s Apple Jacks
These shouldn’t be good, right? I mean Apple Cinnamon Cheerios didn’t do it for me, and these are like neon orange and green now, and yet AND YET, their flavor profile blends so well, and they don’t get soggy for a while thanks to, like, the neoprene sprayed on them, and, holy sh*t, I am going to go eat some right now just to remember.
7. General Mills Trix
Fruit flavored Kix!
6. General Mills Lucky Charms
The OG of the marshmallow game, but with a more subtle oat cereal to balance out that freeze-dried 'mallow sweetness. Plus, I’m Irish and all of the commercials seem to have the subtle subtext of the British (the kids in the commercials) trying to find and exploit the Irishmen’s natural resources (Lucky the Leprechaun’s magical vault of charms), and it’s important that kids' cereal commercials tackle these kinds of issues.
5. Quaker Cap'n Crunch Berries
The perfect balance of sugary not-berry flavors, and sugary berry flavors.
4. Post Honeycomb
I love this cereal so much. My only issue is, due to its delicate flavor profile, you can’t really mix it with any other cereals, and I’m a chronic mixer of cereals. This also seems like the time to point out that they once tried to make Strawberry Blasted Honeycomb, and, in 2008, featured a commercial with a feral child named Bernard who was raised by bees.
3. Kellogg’s Crispix
As opposed to Honeycomb, this is THE cereal to mix. It’s like the tonic water of cereals -- just pour it in, and it’ll mix well with anything. Also, that unique structure keeps them crisp for a lot longer than it should, and they have just a hint of sweetness so that you don’t feel like you’re getting screwed out of a ton of sugar. I literally just finished a box of Crispix as I typed that.
2. General Mills Fruity Cheerios
You know why this is so damn high? Because, unlike Trix and Froot Loops, and some of the other fruity cereals I’m pretty obsessed with, the Cheerios people managed to somehow figure out how to do all that fake fruit action, but keep the sugar and calorie levels down low enough that I don’t feel like I’m eating sugar cereal, AND IT’S ALL ABOUT PERCEPTION FOR ME.
1. Quaker Cap'n Crunch's Christmas Crunch
Imagine if a specific cereal, which you already have professed your love for, released a special edition right around your favorite holiday. And you swear that special edition tastes slightly different and more delicious than the original, and that taste triggers memories of you getting the GI Joe Mobile Command Unit and River City Ransom for NES while a light snow falls gently on your roof and your Mom tells you to go outside and shovel before it sticks, but you can’t hear her, because the crunch emanating from your mouth is too gloriously loud. Yeah, that would probably have to be #1, right?
Kevin Alexander is the executive editor of national food/drink, and once ate 11 bowls of Crispix mixed with Great Grains not even on a dare. Follow him to that aisle in the supermarket that usually also holds apple sauce: @KAlexander03.