London-based market research firm Mintel released the results of a 2015 food consumer survey. The mainstream news latched onto one data point, that 40% of Millennials surveyed don’t choose cereal as their breakfast. Some respondents indicated that having to wash dishes after contributed to not thinking of it as a convenient choice.
That was all it took for another spate of Millennials bashing think pieces in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Atlantic. Beyond the reactionary nostalgia of people who think of cereal as a noble tradition, and woeful projections for what this means to Post and General Mills, the articles all had a common refrain: Millennials are lazy.
Too lazy to wash a bowl and spoon! Too coddled, too sheltered in childhood. Participation trophies must be to blame. Those darn lazy Millennials with their smart phones and energy drinks won’t eat cold cereal like God intended. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
What this cereal caping press ignores is any other possible reason besides sloth cereal might be less popular. Like food trends and fads, or the relatively low nutrition of most cereals, or the fact that a box of Cheering costs twice as much in 2016 as it cost in 2006. Or the challenges of working spit shifts or two jobs, or the dish wars between the increasing number of older Millennials living with roommates.
Or that cereal isn’t “new” like Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and kale. Or that food insecurity may be driving the sizable minority of Millennials who simply don’t have a breakfast. Or that free or discounted food at work is one of the only perks restaurant workers get, so eating at home feels wasteful.
The only people who should care that this generation eats less cereal are cereal makers and their shareholders. Anyone else being “alarmed” by this news is either putting on a show or needs to chill. Think of that advice you love giving college student trauma survivors.
The world isn’t your safe space or your bubble, and no one will give you protection from ideas or facts you don’t like, such as the fact that your favorite breakfast food is no longer on trend. Put on your grownup britches and breathe. You can handle living in a world of waning cereal popularity. You’ll be okay.