The just-sweet-enough puffs are way better than your virtuous oat bran
This morning, I ate a bowl of Kix. And then I ate another one. And then another little half bowl after that. Earlier I had stopped at the grocery store specifically to buy a box of Kix, and when the man on the other side of the glass doors told me they weren’t open yet, I sat down on the spot and waited the remaining fifteen minutes. I had to have my Kix.
Like many breakfast cereals, Kix is a food marketed to children. Their slogan makes it explicit: “Kid-tested, mother-approved.” Kix is supposed to compete with Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Reese’s Puffs, which, to a kid, it doesn’t. Show me a kid who picks Kix over any of these and I’ll show you a kid whose best friend at school is his homeroom teacher. To a kid, the only thing that matters about a cereal is taste. You can’t pretend a spoonful of dry Kix tastes better than one of dry Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Adults, on the other hand, must consider a number of other factors in addition to taste when selecting a breakfast cereal. That’s why Kix is the perfect cereal not for children, but for adults.
First let me clarify that I think Kix tastes great—now. I’m thirty, and as a result, my insatiable bloodthirst for sugar has started to chill out a bit. I know now what it means for something to be “too sweet,” which is not something a kid is familiar with. Because it is a breakfast cereal, Kix is sweet, but it’s on the low end of the range for grams of sugar per serving: three grams to Cinnamon Toast Crunch’s ten, or Raisin Bran Crunch’s 20. Now, obviously the serving size on any cereal box is meant as a joke (“one and one-fourth cup”—good one), so you’re almost certainly consuming two or three times that amount per bowl. With Kix, unlike most other cereals, you can consume a bowl full of sweet crunchiness for less than ten grams of sugar.
The true challenge comes in limiting oneself to a single bowl. I was most recently inspired to buy a box because I’d seen an Instagram post by my friend Kate documenting her own bowl of Kix (beautifully lit, elegantly filtered). The caption clarified that it was her third bowl of the morning. I asked her why she thinks it’s so easy to house half a box of Kix in one sitting. “It’s sweet but not sweet, and it even has a kind of salty quality to it? I usually like to balance a sweet bite of anything with a salty bite of something else but Kix already has the perfect balance.” Indeed, Kix has 180 mg of salt per serving, seven percent of the daily recommended intake. “Makes sense,” I said, but Kate was not done listing Kix’s merits. “It’s easy to eat a lot of them quickly because you can pack a lot onto a spoon, and then they just melt in your mouth.” She’s right — Kix maintains a crisp outer shell but the airy inside is easily compacted under the pressure of a closing jaw. This quality also makes it virtually impossible for a bowl of Kix to get soggy, a rare virtue among cereals.
For a kid, the Kix box is underwhelming: a pile of puffed, pale yellow orbs lying, unanimated, inside a drawn outline of an ear of corn. As if a comparison to corn on the cob is what you are most looking for in a cereal. There is no mascot. There is no game on the back — unless you count a cartoon corn maze a game, and you shouldn’t. There is no variation in color. Its slogan (the same since it was first introduced in 1978) is about as modest as it gets: your mother will agree to buy this cereal for you, and you will think it is fine. Perhaps only as an adult will you realize that Kix is more than fine. It is a comforting constant. It is mild and unassuming. It is a little sweet, a little salty, and completely delicious. You could even eat a bowl or two of it with half & half (trust me), because you’re a grown-up now.