The Cereal Life

If you ever saw The Road to Wellville (or read the book), you know the story of how cereal came to dominate American breakfast at the turn of the 20th century. Touted as a healthy antidote to an artery-clogging, constipating ham-and-eggs tradition, cereal has grown into a $7.5 billion business. Americans buy 2.7 billion packages of breakfast cereal each year.

An article in Salon claims that “[i]t’s time to overthrow the breakfast cereal regime.” “Is cereal even a good choice for breakfast?” the author asks:

The American Dietetic Association certainly seems to think so. On its Web site, it trumpets two 2005 studies published in its peer-reviewed journal that found cereal-eating teenage girls and breakfast-eating adults were more likely to be at a healthy weight—perfectly positioning the cereal industry as the antidote to the health issue du jour, obesity. But wait a sec! Who funded those studies? General Mills and Kellogg’s.

Dieticians, the article continues, say the best breakfast should include plenty of protein, be high in fiber and micronutrients, and have as little sugar and salt as possible. Most cereals fail this test miserably.

Even in the face of such evidence, proponents of a cereal ban will have a tough sell. We seem to be addicted to the stuff.