The Most Popular Cereals Ranked From Worst To First

It was once estimated that the average American eats approximately 160 bowls of cereal each year. To say cereal is popular in the United States would be a massive understatement. When headed to the table for breakfast, many of us reflexively reach for a box of cereal.

Globally, the breakfast cereal industry is worth about $35 billion. By 2025, it's expected to be worth more than $54 billion. However, despite the growing popularity, the cereals that have been around for decades are still the most popular. In fact, the majority of the most popular cereals in the country have been around for decades.

With dozens and dozens of cereals at your fingertips when you visit your local grocery store, it can sometimes be an overwhelming choice. We'll help you decide by and ranking the most popular breakfast cereals, starting with the worst and ultimately reaching the best of the bunch.

16. Lucky Charms

The fact that human beings willfully eat Lucky Charms is mind-boggling. This cereal consists of brownish pieces of oats and small dehydrated marshmallows. The problem is neither component tastes good. Would you eat this cereal if it only had the marshmallow bits? No. Would you eat Lucky Charms if it consisted of only oats? Of course not. Then why would anyone think it's a good idea to eat a cereal that has two gross ingredients mixed together? It makes no sense.

When eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, the goal is to make sure you always have at least one marshmallow on your spoon before it hits your mouth. Otherwise, the taste of just the oat pieces is borderline unbearable. It looks (and might even taste) like dog food. While the marshmallows offer a little bit of a reprieve, that's only in comparison to the oats. By themselves, while the marshmallow pieces come in a variety of fun shapes, they don't taste good enough to eat on their own.

Lucky Charms cereal has been around for more than 50 years despite these obvious shortcomings. Hopefully one day humans realized there are much better cereal options out there.

15. Special K

If you want to start your day off on the wrong foot, start it with a bowl of Special K for breakfast. Even those people who eat this cereal on a daily basis (like Queen Elizabeth) don't do it for the taste, they do it for the supposed health benefits. However, an expert over at WebMD clearly states there's "nothing special" regarding the healthiness of Special K. It contains no fiber, a minimal amount of protein, and not enough vitamins for you to torture yourself by choking this down for breakfast morning after morning.

Special K is basically a combination of rice and wheat that goes limp and loses its texture soon after you pour the milk. The moment it loses its crunchiness, the bland taste makes this stuff almost inedible. Many people add fruit to their bowl in order to allow themselves to swallow their spoonfuls of Special K but, again, this cereal isn't healthy enough to justify going through that trouble.

If you must eat this cereal, do yourself a favor and go with a variety that adds fruit to the mix like Special K Raspberry or other tasty ingredients like Special K Cinnamon Brown Sugar Crunch. A better idea is to just give up Special K for good and don't look back.

14. Rice Krispies

The best part of eating Rice Krispies is hearing the snap, crackle, and pop after the milk hits your bowl. Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. And since our ears don't have taste buds, there's only so much enjoyment that can be derived from listening to your breakfast talk to you.

Rice Krispies are made from rice and a bit of sugar — and that's about it. The rice is puffed in a way that allows you to enjoy the texture for a while. At best, this cereal offers a forgettable taste. At worst, if you have poured too much into your bowl, it becomes a chore to swallow it all down. After a while, the pleasing texture is lost and the puffed rice begins to annoyingly get stuck to the roof of your mouth.

While the Rice Krispies cereal is more popular, you can get the same audible enjoyment with an improved taste by switching over to Cocoa Krispies or the new Strawberry Krispies that debuted in 2019. If you're stuck with a box of Rice Krispies and don't want to endure the mediocrity that comes when eating it, the best thing to do is to turn it into Rice Krispies Treats.

13. Fruity Pebbles

While Fruity Pebbles tastes pretty good, they have a few fatal flaws that stop them from rising higher on this list. The main flaw is that they get soggy faster than any other popular cereal. Unless you inhale this stuff in a few spoonfuls, you're bound to suffer through a period of sogginess as you eat your breakfast.

Another flaw is that there are just too many flavors at work. While each color in your bowl of Fruity Pebbles has a unique flavor, it's virtually impossible to enjoy any particular flavor — especially when the clock is ticking on your cereal being soggy. If you hesitate too long, you'll be left with mush in your bowl.

While this cereal has used the popularity of The Flintstones since the beginning to endear itself to youngsters for decades, it's high time to upgrade your breakfast if you're still eating this stuff.

12. Life

If you hate soggy cereal, Life is the answer to your prayers. There's something about the baked squares of Quaker Oats that causes it to last much longer in milk. Maybe it's the slits in the square or maybe it's the hollow center. Whatever the secret is, it allows you to take your time when eating this cereal.

There is one issue with Life, though: the flavor is underwhelming. While there is a bit of heartiness and a touch of sweetness, it lacks the pizzazz to wake your taste buds from their early morning slumber. The pleasing texture just isn't enough to make up for this weakness.

Thankfully, there are some versions of Life that take steps toward solving this problem. It comes in Strawberry and Vanilla, but the best Life cereal is actually the Cinnamon version. Cinnamon Life has been around for quite a while, even back when Mikey was trying and liking his first bowl.

11. Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries

While Cap'n Crunch cereal dates back to 1963, it's been passed in popularity by Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries — and for good reason. Crunch Berries has all the yumminess of the original Cap'n Crunch but with fruity and equally as crunchy pieces added to the party. Unlike Fruity Pebbles, you can actually taste individual flavors in this cereal.

The only drawback with Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries is that it's a cereal that you will get bored of after a while. It's so sweet that there are only so many bowls of this stuff you can eat before you want to move onto something else. In fact, they made an Oops! All Berries version that just had the berries part and none of the golden pillows and it didn't last — presumably due to an overload of sweetness. Even if you have an overactive sweet tooth, eventually this cereal will have it waving a white flag.

10. Cheerios

Cheerios are a perfectly acceptable breakfast cereal. It's hearty enough that it will fill you up and start your morning off right. It has a notable crunch that holds up well in milk. It's relatively healthy, especially compared to most sugar-laden cereals. Cheerios has also been around forever and their quality has remained high, so you can trust that your next bowl will be just as good as your previous bowl.

Boredom is the only reason Cheerios doesn't rank higher. It's a good cereal but eventually you will want something more. The good news is you can add in something like chopped bananas and you will fall back in love with Cheerios.

Originally, Cheerios were known as Cheerioats back when the cereal debuted in 1941. It wasn't until 1945 that it changed to the name we know today — and that was only due to a legal fight with Quaker Oats.

9. Froot Loops

With or without milk, Froot Loops cereal is a joy to eat. It's sweet but not overbearingly sweet. The texture provides the perfect amount of crunch and then it gently melts in your mouth. The fruity flavors are fantastic. The colors, which include orange, lime green, red, orange, and purple, are vibrant and visually pleasing.

There's one thing, though, that might make you never look at a bowl of Froot Loops the same way. While your brain may tell you each color has its own unique flavor, that's apparently not the case. It turns out that each and every loop tastes the same — from the orange that you may believe tastes like orange juice to the purple that you may believe is grape flavored. I guess Toucan Sam, the cereal's mascot since 1963, and the gang tried to warn us by purposely misspelling the word "fruit."

Despite that disappointment, it's still going to be difficult to pass up a bowl of Froot Loops. Your brain will still tell you the loops taste different — and you might as well roll with that because the truth is too difficult to live with.

8. Reese's Puffs

Compared to the other cereals on this list, Reese's Puffs cereal is the new kid on the block. It debuted in 1994 and its advertising campaign marketed it as a candy you can eat for breakfast, which leaned on the popularity of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. That marketing strategy paid off because, honestly, who doesn't love the idea of being able to eat candy for breakfast without any guilt?

While Reese's Puffs cereal isn't as good as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, it's still really good. Half of the puffs have a chocolatey taste, while the other half have a peanut butter taste. Each spoonful of this stuff is enjoyable — from the first bite to the last bite.

However, if you're on any type of diet, you might reconsider eating Reese's Puffs. It has so much sugar in it that you can make a successful argument that you shouldn't be eating it at all.

7. Raisin Bran

A bowl of Raisin Bran can either be absolutely outstanding or exceedingly mediocre depending on one thing: the number of raisins that make the journey to your bowl. Unfortunately, whether or not you will be blessed by the right amount of raisins relies completely on luck. There's nothing you can do; shaking the box to mix things up doesn't help.

Raisin Bran consists of bran flakes and perfectly sweetened raisins. While the bran flakes aren't too fun to eat alone, the addition of the right amount of raisins can make a spoonful memorable. When the ratio is right, there's no better way to eat a cereal that is high in fiber.

If you want to improve your odds, you may want to opt for Raisin Bran Crunch. This version adds clusters of granola to the mix that have been blessed with honey. Thus, if your bowl doesn't end up with the optimal amount of raisins, the granola can pick up some of the slack.

6. Apple Jacks

Apple Jacks cereal has become a staple in American households, dating back to 1965 when an intern invented it for Kellogg's. No matter if you're old or young, you will appreciate a bowl of Apple Jacks. This cereal balances the right amount of apple flavoring and the right amount of cinnamon flavoring to make a pleasant breakfast option. The rings are made with three different grains and a wide variety of vitamins, which adds a bit of wholesomeness to each bowl.

When shopping for Apple Jacks, never settle for the generic brand. No matter how hard other brands try, they can never master the balance between apple and cinnamon like Kellogg's has been able to do. Additionally, make sure you don't accidentally pick up a box of Apple Jacks with Marshmallow. This abomination of a cereal should be illegal in all 50 states. It's truly disgusting and hurts Apple Jacks' good name.

5. Honey Bunches of Oats

If you are the type of person who enjoys complex foods with a variety of different tastes and textures at work at the same time, Honey Bunches of Oats is the cereal you should go to each morning. This cereal took three years to develop but it was well worth the wait. A mix of whole grain wheat, corn, rolled oats, rice, and barley flour form the base of the cereal. It's then sweetened with honey and molasses. While it sounds complicated, it all blends together so perfect it's difficult to think back to a time when this cereal didn't exist.

What's also cool is there are over a dozen varieties of Honey Bunches of Oats, which allows you to pinpoint what exactly your taste buds will enjoy the most. The Honey Roasted version is the original, but many of the others are well worth your hard-earned money, including the Apple Caramel Crunch and the Pecan and Maple Brown Sugar.

4. Frosted Mini-Wheats

If you want to be full after breakfast in order to tackle the day ahead of you, a big bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats will do the trick. This cereal boasts 11 individual layers: ten layers of 100 percent whole wheat and one layer of sweet frosting. It's also high in fiber and supplies a complete day's worth of iron and folic acid.

If it's your first time eating Frosted Mini-Wheats, you will enjoy it. The good news is that the more you eat it, the more you'll fall in love. That's because there's an art form to eating this stuff. The trick is to position each square in your mouth so that the frosting hits your tongue when you bite down. That way, the yumminess is amplified with each bite you take.

While you can find Unfrosted Mini-Wheats if you look hard enough, stick with the frosted version. That one layer of frosting makes all the difference.

3. Cinnamon Toast Crunch

For many people, the list of their favorite breakfast cereals begins and ends with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. That stance is extremely difficult to argue against. If you have a sturdy sweet tooth and you can stand a generous amount of cinnamon, this cereal really could be the best possible thing you could eat for breakfast — even though it's not exactly good for you.

While Cinnamon Toast Crunch can be criticized for getting soggy quickly in milk, it's not that big of an issue because it still tastes really good even when it's soggy. Plus, whenever you finish eating the cereal, you will have a bowl of milk that will taste amazingly good. No other cereal on the planet leaves behind such tasty milk. In fact, Cinnamilk was created to replicate the taste of a bowl of milk after the Cinnamon Toast Crunch is all gone.

The inventors intended for this cereal to taste like cinnamon toast. While they didn't accomplish that goal, this cereal is still a definite win.

2. Frosted Flakes

Frosted Flakes are great, Tony the Tiger wasn't lying. The magic of this cereal is partly its simplicity. All it is is milled corn that has been frosted with sugar. That's it. But while there aren't any granola clusters, raisins, or fruit flavors to grab your attention, Frosted Flakes is still able to hang with any other cereal on the market.

The sweetness is present in every bite but the flakes are hearty enough to successfully balance out the flavors. And much like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, the milk that's left in the bowl after you've finished eating it is a treat in itself.

Tony the Tiger is still an effective mascot, even though he's getting long in the tooth. He's been on boxes of Frosted Flakes since 1952, back when the cereal was known as Sugar Frosted Flakes. The "sugar" was dropped from the name but Tony is sure to stick around for the long haul.

1. Honey Nut Cheerios

Cereal simply can't get better than Honey Nut Cheerios. The fiber-rich whole grain oats makes this a filling cereal; one bowl will keep you full until lunch time. The nutty flavor of almonds gives Honey Nut Cheerios a richness that other competitors lack. To add a cherry on top, the honey adds the right amount of sweetness to draw you in and it causes each spoonful to be pleasurable.

While the original Cheerios were invented nearly 80 years ago, Honey Nut Cheerios arrived on the scene in 1979. If you've been eating this cereal most of your life, you might be surprised to learn that there was a major change to the recipe back in 2006. That's when ground almonds were taken out of the cereal and replaced by almond flavoring. Luckily, it didn't seem to negatively impact the flavor at all.

If it's your last day on Earth and you're down to your final breakfast choice, reach for Honey Nut Cheerios. It will not disappoint you.