The theory goes that iron-rich cereals could conceivably be turned into magnets, but it didn't work out that well
he truth crusaders over at Snopes have taken upon themselves the noble task of verifying whether or not Wheaties are so iron-enriched that the cereal reacts with magnets. Yes, magnets. The inquiry is in response to a viral video that surfaced a few years ago purporting that Wheaties, which are produced by General Mills, contain metallic fragments that draw the cereal flakes into magnetic force fields. It isn’t the first video to show iron-rich cereal interacting with magnets, and in fact, Snopes writes, it’s a common children’s experiment.
So, yes, Wheaties and other cereals like it do pair well with ingredients other than milk, but they don’t actually contain physical bits of metal. “We see this science experiment done pretty frequently with any iron fortified cereal—it makes for a cool video!,” a General Mills spokesperson tells Snopes, going on to dispel any notion that iron-enriched Wheaties are bad to consume.
“Iron is really important for your body to function well, and your body only absorbs as much as it needs.” Having read Snopes’ piece, energized by the thought of magnetizing my breakfast, I set out for the local grocery store to pick up a box of Wheaties (which I don’t think I’ve ever purchased, now that I think about it). Then I made my way to a nearby hardware store and bought a few small magnets I figured would be strong enough to attract a cereal flake or two or three or 36.
Returning to my apartment, I set out a plate, crushed a handful of Wheaties into it, got out my magnets (clumped together for maximum strength), hovered them just above the small pile of cereal and then dipped the magnets into it. The result? Zip, nothing, bupkis. How disappointed I was—having one, wasted a perfectly good handful of Wheaties on a faulty science experiment, and two, having purchased a whole box of Wheaties when I don’t even really like Wheaties! I’m assuming that my magnets weren’t strong enough, being quite small, but I was hoping I’d at least see some type of magnetic interaction.
For a moment, some Wheaties crumbs were stuck to the magnets, but I think that’s just because they were crumbs. They gave no fight when I brushed them away. I had planned to attract the Wheaties to my magnets and then stick the magnets to my refrigerator in a kind of postmodern commentary on food. But now I’m just stuck with a few weak magnets and a whole lot of Wheaties. Thanks, science.