Sunday, November 25, 2012


Every once in awhile I come across some creative individuals who take ubiquitous cereal and turn it into art. Some of it is actually quite good.

The latest is Cerealism (although the name has been used before), the work of photographer Ernie Button. He takes various forms of cereal and using close shots often with vivid backgrounds creates some amazing, and at times surreal, results.

Worth taking a look at!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Those of you following this blog will have noticed little activity here in quite some time. In fact, this has been one of the biggest dry spells in the seven years I've been doing this!

I would like to blame it on the fact that I am busy (which I am), but the truth is that there is little of significance going out there in the world of cereal right now. Normally there are some announcements, product introductions, or industry developments to track and comment on, but in the last months there has hardly been anything. Sure, I could have highlighted General Mills' annual run of monster cereals, but even this story is hardly noteworthy as it basically the same thing they've done in recent years.

I wonder if there are a couple of things going on here. First, could it be that the less than vibrant economy is finally taking its toll and stifling innovation? Or, is it that the big players are diversifying more and giving less attention to their cereal portfolio?

In any case, I am hoping to see some cereal excitement coming as we approach the new year. Maybe some holiday cereals, some innovative new brands or packaging, and perhaps some industry shake-ups?

I will be watching. Keep following me as these things unfold.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coffee cereal

I've always wondered why someone hasn't come up with a coffee-flavored cereal. Well, finally someone has taken on the challenge!

A Maui-based food scientist has come up with Cappuccino Crunch a brand of four unique varieties (Kona Blend, Mocha, Cappuccino, and Chai Spice). At this point the company, Flavor Waves, markets these cereals only in Hawaii. But, who knows, if they go over well more of us might be able to have our coffee cereal alongside our morning coffee!

(Source: The Maui News)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kellogg looks for loyalty

A big part of any company's success is customer loyalty. If people like your product and make it a habit to keep buying it you have a winner on your hand.

Earlier this summer Kellogg announced a Family Rewards program intended to get consumers to stick with their products because of the lure of rewards, prizes and special offers. Quite simply many Kellogg's branded products will contain a special code printed inside, You enter the codes on your computer or phone and collect points.

In a highly competitive cereal and snack food marketplace working to obtain customer loyalty is a big feat. I wonder, however, whether most customers could be bothered with the whole process. Sure there are some couponers, etc. who look for this type of thing, but I'm not convinced it will make a difference. In fact, I've seen or heard little buzz about it outside of Kellogg's own promotions.

Real customer loyalty comes not from promotions or gimmicks, but consumers who are passionate about a product. That comes from innovative, strong products backed by strong branding. Kellogg should be focusing more on that.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

The first Breakfast Bowl contest!

It's hard to believe that it's September already! But, this is a great time to introduce a contest that will run through to the end of this month and give you the opportunity to win a unique cereal prize!

Here's what you have to do to enter:

Simply tell your friends via Facebook to "Like" our Facebook page, or via Twitter to follow us on Twitter.

The Prize: One winner will receive two packages of the new SexCereal (one for him, and one for her) with a retail value of approximately $22.00. This unique cereal could be a collector's item in the future!

The Story behind the Prize: I like to try the cereals I talk about in this blog, but rarely receive samples from manufacturers. So in light of our recent story about SexCereal I decided to try it and buy some myself. Unfortunately, there was a problem during shipping with one of the cereal packages, and the company responded promptly to fix the mishap and was gracious to throw in some extra packages for the trouble. So, instead of keeping it all to myself I'm going to share some with my loyal readers.

The Details:

1. To share the Breakfast Bowl via Facebook, post a "Public" message to your timeline telling people to visit our Facebook page, but be sure to tag The Breakfast Bowl page in your message (the simplest way is to start typing "@break..." and watch for our page to appear in the list and then select it). OR visit our page and click on the settings button next to the "Message" button, and then choose "Share", but again be sure the message is "Public" and we are tagged.

2. To share the Breakfast Bowl via Twitter, tweet a message that tells people to follow us at @breakfast_bowl. You must be using a public Twitter account.

3. You may repeat this on each social media network up to once per day through to midnight (Pacific) on September 30, 2012.

4. One winner will be chosen randomly from all entries (i.e. Facebook and Twitter promotions)

5. Open to all residents of the United States and Canada.

6. Big Life Foods, maker of SexCereal, is not involved in this contest.

UPDATE OCTOBER 2, 2012: Congratulations to @antonioortegajr the winner of our contest!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

General Mills tries for gold

The Olympics and its wall-to-wall coverage are now over, but General Mills is wasting no time in capitalizing on the event and two of its premiere stars. Today they announced two new Wheaties boxes featuring high-profile gold medal winners Michael Phelps and Misty May-Treanor.

This is significant for several reasons. First, the timing is great. Second, it helps the flagging Wheaties brand. But, most significant, this is a big jump ahead of Kellogg who has Olympic sponsorship rights. General Mills can't actually take advantage of all the official Olympics branding, but with these two stars it really doesn't matter. This is big, and ultimately, could over-shadow whatever exposure Kellogg gained in recent weeks, but watch for a new Corn Flakes box coming soon featuring the popular U.S. women gymnastics team.

Let the games continue!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cereal goes to the Olympics

This year the gold medal goes to: Kellogg's. For the 2012 London games the company is the official sponsor of the USA Olympic and Paralympic teams and gets the right to piggy back on all the attention that the massive sporting event provide. In addition to specially marked Corn Flakes boxes featuring Team Kellogg, specific athletes, they have introduced a limited-edition Team USA cereal.

Kellogg's has had this privilege for a number of years. I'm just surprised that they haven't taken advantage of it even more than they are. There is so much more marketing potential here.

UPDATE: More on Kellogg's sponsorship on their website, includes links to commercials and ads.

Monday, July 23, 2012

"More" from Post

Recently in grocery stores large boxes of cereals are showing up promising "more". Good Morenings cereal is a new brand launched by Post that appears to be a major thrust since their move late last year to go public and independent. Good Morenings is bold on several fronts, mainly because it is actually six new cereals which come in large boxes (over 20 ounces) that stand out on the grocers shelves.

The six new varieties include some knock-offs like frosted flakes, berry loops, vanilla o's, and waffle crunch. But, there are also some innovative flavors like cocoa cinnamon crunch and strawberry and creme. The emphasis in this brand seems to be on value. They are priced well, and they want consumers to believe that they have good nutrition value too, packed with vitamins and minerals but lacking high fructose corn syrup (although their sugar content is on the high side).

In any case, this is an interesting move from Post, who desperately needs to reinvent itself. These cereals should stand out, although I haven't seen any formal marketing campaign yet. Post appears to be taking its future seriously, and this is a good example. In addition, they have also made some other changes with a revised logo and visual identity, plus the launch of, an online social site that encourages consumers to share positive intentions for their day. All in all, Post may be on the right track.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


You knew it was only a matter of time, and finally someone has done it. We've seen cereal focused on children, sports, digestive health, etc. but now we have entered a new frontier. Big Life Foods, a Canadian company, has introduced SexCereal, two cereals (one for men, one for women) to help you "Fuel Your Fire."

SexCereals are touted as "an amazingly delicious melange of wonderful, sometimes exotic, whole foods and spice." The implied message is that these formulas will enhance your love life.

This is obviously an incredible marketing effort, and one that should catch people's attention. But, as always, the cereals themselves had better be pretty tasty (or effective!) or the novelty will wear off fast, especially at almost $11.00 a box. At this point the cereals are available online and in Canadian health food stores. Don't look for it at your local grocers anytime soon, especially next to the Froot Loops.

(More at: Ottawa Citizen)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crunchy Nut superhero

Maybe it's the recent superhero craze associated with some prominent movies, but Kellogg is jumping on the bandwagon with its introduction of The Crunchy Nut, a superhero whose mission is "to seek out people suffering from dull breakfasts and put the fun back into cereal bowls everywhere." As part of their new campaign he recently appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Obviously a marketing gimmick, but a few noteworthy points. First, it's a mascot for an adult cereal, something we don't typically see. And, it suggests that Kellogg is intent on building the Crunch Nut brand. In fact, they also recently introduced a new Caramel Nut variety.

I haven't tried this new flavor, but I wasn't overly impressed with the first two that I tasted. Nevertheless, the cereals must be getting some traction, and Kellogg must believe that there is a strong future for Crunchy Nut.

Press release here.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Disney drops high sugared cereals

For years I have reported on the growing pressure put on cereal companies for their production and marketing of high-sugared cereals. Companies have responded with healthier cereals and voluntary reduction of advertising.

The powerful Walt Disney Company has recently made a decision that will have significant influence on a wide range of food manufacturers, including cereal. All food products advertised on their entertainment services must meet strict nutritional standards. For cereal this means no more than 10 grams of sugar per serving (although that's kind of nebulous since companies can easily modify suggested serving sizes).

This policy is likely to prompt other media companies to make similar changes.

(Source: New York Times)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

ESPN the cereal

This would have been a great April Fools gag, but while the box image is fictitious it is a serious proposal.

Over the past few years I have watched the the ever-unfolding General Mills saga with Wheaties. Its latest attempt to revive the brand, FUEL, just doesn't appear to have worked. And the company as a whole is having some challenges, even with layoffs announced last week.

I am still convinced that a cereal targeted to men is a viable marketing strategy. But, the Wheaties brand doesn't cut it. Here's my proposal: Form a co-branding partnership with ESPN, and you will have a winner! The cable sports network is a major testosterone symbol, and considering the passion of many sports fans who wouldn't dare miss SportsCenter, an ESPN branded cereal would fly off the shelves.

Co-branded cereals are not new, and even General Mills tried something similar with women when they introduced Curves cereal several years ago (although the cereal didn't last that long). But, Curves for women does not even come close to the marketing potential that ESPN would have for men.

I think it would work!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Kashi fights bad PR

This has not been a good week for Kashi, the Kellogg-owned cereal company that works off its natural foods branding. Controversy hit a peak as claims by the Cornucopia Institute, fueled by social media, made claims that genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) were found in some of its products. Kashi, of course, responded (including an online video) refuting the claims, followed by counter-claims, and so on.

No company wants this type of publicity, as truth often gets lost in the midst of the debating. Certainly, companies like Kashi that make "natural" claims have a high reputation to live up to, and deserve criticism if they don't walk the talk. On the other hand, based on the comments I've read online, it also seems like natural food fans are just plain suspicious of any natural food companies that is successful and ends up part of a large corporate empire like Kellogg.

The vast majority of consumers will likely never even hear about this controversy, and eventually it will likely die down. But, Kashi also can't alienate some of its most passionate consumers who are looking for the purest possible foods.

(Source: Huffington Post)

Monday, March 26, 2012

More Wheaties questioning

Last week General Mills released their latest financial data, and the news doesn't look good for Wheaties. There is growing evidence that their market share and sales are declining. A recent story at CNBC captures the situation well (and includes quotes from yours truly).

I've talked about the brand struggle at Wheaties for several years now, and even as recently as last month. Wheaties is a familiar brand that has captured many significant connections with sports in America over the past few decades. But, despite our nostaglia with the cereal, it just doesn't have much appeal any longer. Is it time for Wheaties to bow out of the race? Or, is there still potential with a renewed vision?

Thursday, March 08, 2012

New life for custom cereals

One of the trends that I have been watching for several years is the rise of companies that create custom cereals according to customer demands. This innovative manner of making cereal had its beginnings in Germany and is led by mymuesli. Two U.S. companies, [me]&goji and MixMyGranola, tried to copy this model here. At first this looked very promising.

Last summer, however, it appeared that this approach might not being having the intended success. [me]&Goji announced that they would be shutting down. In the fall, MixMyGranola entered into a partnership with Element Bars, a food bar company, although it does not appear that relationship is still intact. Just this week, however, Element Bars announced that they were acquiring [me]&goji which had already ceased operations. Jonathan Miller of Element Bars says that they "share the same vision of custom, whole foods and hope this acquisition will continue our growth in the custom food space." It is not yet clear how the cereals will be branded.

One of the difficulties that these upstart companies faced was breaking into the large cereal market. Perhaps their future will be brighter if they are part of a company with more resources. We will continue to watch.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Review: The Great American Cereal Book

Over the years there have been several books published about cereal, but none is quite like the latest one to hit the shelves: The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch. If you are a cereal lover, then this is one book you will want to have around your home. This is not another historical narrative of the cereal industry, but a compendium of virtually every major American cereal ever made, complete with key historical points and many wonderful cereal box pictures. You will be fascinated with all the cereals, both familiar and obscure. It is so easy to open the book at almost any page and get lost in browsing. Interspersed among the cereal listings are several brief articles featuring highlights from cereal's amazing history. If you are looking for a book to feed your cereal passion, this is the one to get. It's fun, informative, and full of flavor!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wheaties releases retro boxes

The last few years has seen several companies, including Quaker, Post, and Kellogg, sell limited edition vintage boxes to tap into cereal nostalgia. But, no company has done this more consistently than General Mills, which currently has another annual set available at Target. This week the company announced another effort, with the release of three retro boxes of Wheaties featuring three prominent athletes of the past: Muhammad Ali, Bruce Jenner and Mary Lou Retton. These boxes are largely reproductions of past ones.

I've talked a lot here about the Wheaties brand in the recent years, and it certainly has lost much of its prominence, even despite their mediocre attempt with Wheaties FUEL. This latest marketing campaign could be a significant boost, and if followed up with a steady stream of new hero boxes could re-establish the brand in minds of consumers.

(Source: Business Wire)

Friday, February 03, 2012

The digital cereal box

Interesting video from USA Today that features Mark Addicks, Chief Marketing Officer for General Mills. In the interview he talks about ways that they hope to engage consumers through digital content (via devices such as smartphones) on cereal boxes and other food products. The packaging becomes a "platform for content", and prize will be virtual. Done right, this could change the way we eat our cereal every morning, and certainly gives an advantage to the companies that can create digital media experiences.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Color-changing cereal

Innovation is critical for the cereal industry, but when is it just plain gimmicky? Researchers have developed a way to make breakfast cereal change colors once it comes in contact with milk. Quaker Oats owns the patents for the technology.

Sounds like fun, and would certainly catch people's attention. But would it be enough to lead a sustainable cereal brand?

(Source: The Guardian)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheerios tries weight loss

Is it just that it's January, or does this represent a new focus for Cheerios? General Mills announced a partnership with Fitness Magazine for a cross-promotion with Multi-Grain Cheerios. But, instead of the previous heart-health benefit claims, now the cereal is part of an online weight-loss program. This puts MG Cheerios in more direct competition with Kellogg's Special K, which has a far more comprehensive branding for weight loss.

This all raises several questions. Does this represent a potential shift for Cheerios marketing (even though this is initially just a six-month promotion)? Why is only the Multi-Grain variety touted for weight loss? Will this cause confusion for the other Cheerios' messages, such as lowering cholesterol for the regular variety? And, will people really take this campaign seriously?

Source: MarketingDaily)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What's up with Quaker?

Yesterday I reported on some packaging updates from Quaker, plus one new cereal. That was pretty significant, but now I discover that there is more!

Four other new varieties have been spotted in the wild, including three new Life offerings, two of which are somewhat unusual for the brand.

The new varieties are: Maple & Brown Sugar Life, Apple Cinnamon Crunchtime Life, Strawberry Crunchtime Life, and Honey Nut Oatmeal Squares. Watch for them!

So, what's up with Quaker? That's a lot of change all at once. Maybe this thrust is a sign of their intent to ramp up their position within the cereal market. Whatever it is, it is rather impressive.

Monday, January 09, 2012

New looks at Quaker

Recently I highlighted some new developments from Kellogg and General Mills plus ownership changes coming at Post. Now, Quaker is making the news to begin 2012. Although I haven't seen any news releases or any changes showing up on their website yet, evidence is starting to appear in grocery stores. It appears that most of Quaker's leading cereal brands are going through some significant packaging design changes. Life is getting a fresh new look that is simple but stands out among the competition with its contemporary design. Also, notice that Quaker logo itself on the package is highly refined, giving a look that reinforces the company's heritage. I've also seen some images of some other re-designs, includes Quaker Oatmeal Squares. Packaging is one way for companies to carve out their identity and market position, and this is one of the most impressive design updates I've seen in the cereal industry.

Also, I spotted a new cereal, Whole Hearts. Essentially this is Quaker's version of Cheerios (although it claims to be "lightly sweetened"), but instead of just copying it like all the generic brands have, it comes in heart-shaped pieces with a much clearer message of the heart benefits of oats. Good move from an oats-driven company.