SNAP CRACKLE AND TOFU

The future of breakfast could get a little funky

Don’t worry, bacon-infused soy milk is not about to be on the breakfast table. But it did appear during some recent under-the-radar market research done by Kellogg.

The cereal giant has been reaching out recently to high-profile chefs, including the James Beard award-winning Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food, in search of inspiration. The goal: To get a better feel for the pulse of what people are craving for breakfast.

Here’s what they’re not craving—at least not as much as they used to:

What they want more of are breakfasts from restaurants, breakfasts on rolls, breakfasts with the protein of yogurt or the portability of a snack bar—meaning fewer Americans are putting cereal on the breakfast table, if they’re sitting down to a breakfast table at all.

The decline of dry cereal as a morning staple has been especially painful for Kellogg, which reported a year-over-year decline of $20 million, or 2.6%, in third-quarter sales from its “US morning foods” segment.

Just how dry cereal brands like Kellogg’s rejuvenate is a big and evolving question, especially as consumers demand foods with less artificial flavors and ingredients. Kellogg hopes that working with chefs can help it arrive at an answer. Bowien’s contribution to the effort involves mixing Kellogg’s products such as Raisin Bran, Corn Pops, and Frosted Mini-Wheats into his own culinary style.

For three days in December, Mission Chinese Food in New York, the lauded outpost of the San Francisco original—is serving Bowien’s concoctions. They include braised Raisin Bran in almond milk with agave and lime, served with spicy mapo tofu; and Corn Pops were stirred into bacon-infused soy milk, topped with a fried egg, and served with thrice-cooked bacon..

At a recent taste test at the restaurant, Bowien described the collaboration as a chance to “stir up people’s perception of breakfast.” For Kellogg’s, it will be chance to gauge diners’ reactions and pick their brains about the kinds of flavors and experimentation they’re willing to indulge in their morning meals.

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