You’ll Never Guess What America’s Favorite Breakfast Cereal Is

Breakfast cereals garnered $8.9 billion in sales as Americans purchased more than $3.1 billion boxes of cereal in 2017. How could this be? Millennials don’t eat cereal — apparently — and every other consumer believes “morning foods” have gotten too pricey to warrant a purchase. Still, some cereal makers are managing to defy all odds in an otherwise soggy market.

IRI Worldwide, a Chicago-based research firm, analyzed data to define America’s 10 most loved and best-selling breakfast cereals. A few of your favorite products on this list won’t surprise you, but the No.1 placeholder definitely will. Here are America’s top-10 favorite breakfast cereals.

10. Raisin Bran (Kellogg Company)

Boxes of Kellogg's cereals including Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies and Raisin Bran are seen at a store in Arlington
Kellogg cereals like Raisin Bran make up 30% of the breakfast cereal market. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • Retail sales: $1.84 million

The Kellogg Company dominates breakfast cereal with 30.01% market share, but Kellogg said that 2017 sales were down for some of its most iconic products. This is a widespread issue across the cereal industry — one that we’ll delve into later.

Still, the company did about $2.59 billion in annual sales last year and its Raisin Bran cereal was one of its biggest sellers. Whether Raisin Bran sits at the back of your shelf until other sugary cereals are gone is a different story.

Next: Nine layers of goodness

9. Frosted Mini Wheats (Kellogg Company)

Kellogg sold nearly $2.5 million worth of Frosted Mini-Wheats in 2017. | Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Retail sales: $2.46 million

Trying to eat all the minis before the sugary frosting melts into the milk is a game kids (and adults) can’t resist. Maybe that’s why Frosted Mini-Wheats is another top performer for Kellogg, bringing in $2.46 million in sales in 2017.

Next: As luck would have it…

8. Lucky Charms (General Mills)

General Mills reported a lower than expected first quarter earnings
Kid-friendly cereals like Lucky Charms are popular. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Retail sales: $2.63 million

There’s not a child in America whose Saturday mornings weren’t consumed with chomping down on a perfectly rationed bite of marshmallow bits and crunchy shamrocks. General Mills has been struggling to post profitable sales numbers for years now, but a recent boost suggests its push to offer more organic products in stores has helped. Nevertheless, nothing will take the place of the magical deliciousness of Lucky Charms, one of its many top-selling products on this list.

Next: A kid-friendly favorite

7. Fruit Loops (Kellogg Company)

Froot loops
Froot Loops is one of the most popular cereals in America. |
  • Retail sales: $2.67 million

Fruit Loops, another crowd-pleaser, takes the seventh spot in America’s favorite breakfast cereal ranking. This is welcomed news for Paul T. Norman, senior vice-president and president of Kellogg North America. He told Food Business News that the company is relying on kid-oriented products like Fruit Loops to stay afloat as sales have declined 2.3% year-over-year.

Next: A tried-and-true cereal

6. Cheerios (General Mills)

General Mills Inc. reported a 51 percent jump in first quarter profits with earnings of $420.6 million
Sales of Cheerios are increasing. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images 
  • Retail sales: $3.31 million

When it comes to the sale of Cheerios, General Mills is happy to let millennials continue choosing avocado toast for breakfast instead. Toddlers and Generation X-ers have Cheerios in the bag. It’s not General Mills’ top-selling cereal, but it’s pretty darn close. This product saw sales increase by 3.6% year-over-year.

Next: A smart move for General Mills

5. Cinnamon Toast Crunch (General Mills)

Boxes of General Mills brand cereals are displayed at Scotty's Market
People bought close to 111 million boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in 2017. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Retail sales: $3.70 million

First, we should acknowledge that Cinnamon Toast Crunch wins the award for most delicious leftover cereal milk in the bowl. Now we can discuss its top-five spot on America’s most beloved breakfast cereals list.

These little toasts were one of the few products that actually posted positive sales year-over-year according to IRI Worldwide’s data. General Mills debuted multiple successful versions of the cereal such as blueberry, apple, and strawberry-flavored crunch, but consumers bought nearly 111 million boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch last year.

Next: A healthier alternative

4. Honey Bunches of Oats (Post Holdings)

selection of cereal in store
Honey Bunches of Oats appeals to people looking for healthier cereal alternatives. | Karen Bennett/The Cheat Sheet
  • Retail sales: $3.98 million

Post Holdings has Honey Bunches of Oats to thank for its appearance on America’s list of favorite breakfast cereals. Though Post only managed to earn a 0.14% increase in dollar sales year-over-year, many consider it a win.

Experts attribute Honey Bunches of Oats success to changing consumer behavior, as more people are opting for healthier cereal alternatives with less sugar.

Next: This cereal is grrrreat!

3. Frosted Flakes (Kellogg Company)

Kellogg's is facing a boycott organized by the Trump-aligned Breitbart News after the cereal giant decided to pull its advertising from the website
Frosted Flakes is Kellog’s best-selling cereal. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
  • Retail sales: $4.13 million

Given the choice between your average run-of-the-mill corn flakes and the sweet, Tiger-approved frosted corn flakes, most would choose the latter. It’s Kellogg’s best-selling cereal by far.

Consumers bought $4.13 million worth of flakes last year alone. Like most of Kellogg’s products, sales did decline significantly, but Frosted Flakes hold on this list is likely to remain, regardless of what the numbers say.

Next: A cereal on a mission

2. Honey Nut Cheerios (General Mills)

The company had a net income of $405 million in the first quarter missing analysts estimates of $446 million.
This cereal is sweet but still seems somewhat healthy. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Retail sales: $5.03 million

General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios just missed the top spot for America’s best-selling product. The high sales numbers for this cereal prove consumers are starving for a nice mix of healthy nutrients paired with a bit of sweetness.

Shoppers may notice that BuzzBee, the brand’s iconic spokesperson, is missing from their boxes. This is part of their campaign to “bring bees back” and encourage consumers to plant wildflowers that would help support the dying bee population.

Next: Can you guess America’s best-selling cereal?

1. Private label or store brands

cereals at aldi
Many Americans are choosing store-brand or private label cereals over name brands. | Megan Elliott/The Cheat Sheet
  • Retail sales: $6.46 million

The best-selling cereals are actually private label or store brands. Yup, once again Americans choose generic options over name-brand products for both price and taste.

In some locations, private label cereal can be more than a dollar cheaper than name-brand options. The nation’s love affair with store-brand labels at Costco, Aldi, or Walmart outshines time-tested and iconic cereal brands to the tune of $6.46 million in annual sales.

Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!