Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

Confessions of a Cereal Mixer


Cereal is one of my favorite food groups. (Yes, in my life, it’s an entire group.) It’s breakfast, it’s an afternoon snack, it’s a just-before-bed indulgence, and occasionally it’s even dinner. That’s not the part I’m confessing about, because my cereal eating habits are right and good.

But here’s my dark secret: I am an unrepentant cereal mixer.

Yes, it’s true. Rarely do I have a bowl of just one type of cereal. I generally mix two, and in my crazier moments, even three different kinds before adding the milk and embarking on my latest my culinary adventure.

Don’t think for a minute that you can just throw any combination of cereals together and achieve perfection. There is a science to mixing cereal — a science verging on an art.

First, let us categorize our cereals into three main groups*:

1. Heavy. This group contains your high-fiber and high-volume cereals like those in the Mini-wheat and Raisin Bran families.

2. Sugar. This group contains your sweet cereals — basically anything with “Sugar” or “Frosted” in the name, plus anything with chocolate or marshmallows. Honey-nut Cheerios actually belong in this group, too. A Sugar cereal can also be in the Heavy group, but is never a Neutral.

3. Neutral. Cereals that are mostly flavorless and/or harmless live in this group. Your regular Cheerios, Corn Flakes, Chex variant, etc. are typical choices. Neutrals may also be Heavy (like unflavored Mini-wheats), but are never in the Sugar group.

When mixing cereals, the key is to never mix cereals of the same group. No Sugar + Sugar, Heavy + Heavy, or Neutral + Neutral. Got it? GOOD. You may, however, experiment freely as follows:

Heavy + Neutral
Sugar + Neutral
Heavy/Sugar + Neutral
Heavy (Not Sugar) + Sugar

There. I have not only confessed my sordid eating habits, but have given you the power to walk the garden path on your own. I have not given you cereal, I have taught you to fish.

Please, go out into the world and concoct greatness. And, should the fates smile on you and you find cereal enlightenment? Come back here and tell us what it is.

* In the spirit of scientific accuracy, it should be noted that I don’t eat traditional cereals like Cocoa Puffs, Fruit Loops, or anything with high-fructose corn syrup. All the brands tested in this study were Trader Joe’s brand, and not Kellogg’s, General Mills, Quaker, or any other well-known name brand. YTMMV: Your taste-bud mileage may vary.

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • I always figured, why mess with the perfection of Honey Nut Cheerios? Holds up to milk, tasty dry, needs no extra sugar. (Plus, it was space-cow approved. Oolong loved it–dry.)

    These days, my pantry is cereal-free because cereal does little to keep my growling belly at bay. My appreciation of your mad chef antics comes less directly. Today's lunch, for example. I had some flounder thawed. Put it under the broiler until it was almost cooked, then smeared it with a bit of French's Horseradish Mustard, sprinkled some parmesan on top, and gave it another minute under heat.

    Yummy. And my sinuses are clear.

    • Honey Nut Cheerios are, indeed, close to perfection — but unless you have a "Heavy" component to your cereal mix, you're always going to get that grumbly belly. The Heavy is what makes it last. (Conversely, that makes Neutrals and Sugars better night-time snacks or deserts in my opinion — they're lighter in terms of belly impact, even if they have more calories.)

      Also, I want you to make me that fish next time I visit.

  • I never used to mix cereals. I generally liked my favorite cereals as they were, mostly because they were already mixes of different textures and flavors. My all-time top favorite, and the one cereal I will never forgive for not being gluten-free, Just Right. Basic 4 is similar in composition, and was an excellent back-up. It contained rice, corn, and bran, yogurt-covered walnuts, and dried fruit. It wasn't too sweet. Nor was it in any way bland. For a dessert, you could drizzle some honey on top, pour some cold milk over it, and enjoy the little ribbons of honey making your cereal sticky and sweet. I practically lived on this and bean soup when I was single and lived alone.

    I would continue to live on this cereal, were it not for its adverse affects on my small intestine… *sigh*

    So now, instead, I eat gluten-free cereal. Which often has the texture of either styrofoam or rocks. So my categories look more like "Neutral, Neutral-styrofoam, Neutral-rocks, and Should-be-sweet-but-isn't-Neutral." So I sometimes mix puffed brown rice with homemade gluten-free granola. It lightens up the granola, which can be heavy, and makes the puffed rice edible. Which for those of you who don't know this already–Rice Krispies are awesome, but not gluten-free, and the gluten-free version are little pellets of styrofoam. :P Styrofoam aside, they do make awesome Rice Krispie treats, however.

      • Thank you — I'm so glad you like the new web theme!!

        Also, I am so, so sad about GF cereal tasting like styrofoam or rocks. That saddens me more than I can ever say.

        • I forgot to mention Chex. They're the big exception to the GF cereal = yuk! I forget about them sometimes because I eat so much of it. (You'd think that would mean I'd remember to mention them… but no, I still forget they're in the GF category because I buy them at the "regular" grocery store.) Except for their Wheat variety, I think the rest of their variations are gluten free. The Cinnamon flavor is good. So is the Chocolate flavor. Both of those become dessert for me quite often. I can imagine that mixing them would be yummy…. hm, now I'm hungry.

  • I have such memories of watching my grandfather – a serial cereal mixer – creating these complicated layered bowls of 3 or 4 different types, and then sprinkling blueberries & drizzling honey over the top.

    By the time he was finished creating his cereal masterpiece, I'd be slurping the milky dregs from the bottom of my bowl and heading out to play.

    Maybe I don't have enough patience to be a mixer?

    • Wow, I never add blueberries or honey to mixed bowls — that's hardcore, even for me. I hereby kowtow to your grandfather!

      I think new moms have little enough patience to go around — maybe put off the cereal mixing until you can get your little ones to do it for you. :-D

  • Hello Jenn,

    This is Katie from the Cheerios Facebook team. We love your creative blog post about cereal mixing and we want to share it with our community on Facebook. Do we have your permission to write a comment about it with a link back to your original post? Please let me know if we have your permission by commenting in this feed or emailing me directly. Either way, I enjoyed reading the science behind your mixing – very clever.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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