A little bit of this, a little bit of that
EC: The Delicate Art of Cereal Frankensteining
Credit: Photos by Alex Tepper

The key to successful home cookery is a well-stocked pantry: a bevy of oils and vinegars to whisk into dressing; grains and pastas to serve as bedding for your proteins and sauces; racks on racks of spices to, you know, spice up your life. A sort of arsenal like this allows for mixing and matching so that boredom doesn't ruin your eating experiences and suck the joy out of your life. Meals should make us happy and definitely should not feel like a monotonous ritual in our long slog towards death. But one thing home cookery overlooks—or completely disowns—is what we’ll call the Cereal-Based Arts.

Sure, savory porridges are having a comeback; oatmeal is fully normcore. But good old-fashioned cereals—the hyper-processed, artificially colored, air-puffed magic that comes in a cartoon-bedecked box—get passed off as childish frippery or a bad, sugary habit. When in reality, combining cereals is an exciting, delicious, and hugely creative endeavor. And when you start asking around, you’ll find that everyone has their own preferred combination, a sort of star sign that’s far more interesting than their coffee order. You’ll also grow obsessed with finding new combinations. Raisin Bran with Count Chocula? Lucky Charms with Fruit Loops? The cereal bowl is your canvas, baby. And stocking your pantry with a multitude of options means you’ll never have a boring breakfast—or late-night snack, or lazy dinner—ever again. Here are some combinations to get you started.

Special K with Red Berries and Cocoa Pebbles

For when you want chocolate-covered strawberries for breakfast

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A few questions: Why do they insist on using the phrase “red berries” when we all know they’re really strawberries? What sort of marketing copy sorcery is this? What I would give to be a fly on the wall in those meetings! Cocoa Pebbles are clearly a better mixing cereal than Cocoa Puffs: They have a deeper chocolate flavor, they’re smaller and therefore turn to a pleasant mush more quickly, and they’re not as crunchy and big when mixed with other kinds of cereal.

Now that we have all that out of the way, we can focus on the fact that adding Cocoa Pebbles to your Red Berries is something you should start doing immediately, because a) you should eat chocolate for breakfast and b) strawberries and chocolate are the happiest of bedfellows. You’ll be left with a bowl full of chocolate milk and a heart full of song.

Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes with Heavy Cream

For when you want to feel like a small child who also loves luxury

The heavy cream here is optional. But have you ever poured it over plain, quick-to-mush cereal? It is... a delicacy. The truffle of breakfast cereal, if you will—lush and fatty and soft, like a deconstructed bowl of ice cream, more creamy than sweet. On their own, Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes can feel a little boring, or plain; but when combined, they’re a study in blandness and texture; when drowned in loads of dairy fat (whole milk works here, too), they soften in the most comforting of ways. And yes, sure, you can sprinkle some sugar on top if you want to go all-out.

Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Cocoa Pebbles

For when you want to DIY your own s’mores cereal even though you know there’s definitely a s’mores cereal already on the market

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Are the marshmallows soft and gooey like the marshmallow inside a real s’more? No! Does this combination of cereals turn your milk a really scary color? Yes! But this weird Frankenstein’s monster of your childhood favorites totally works, just like combining every soda flavor in the fountain somehow makes sense. You’ve got your chocolate, you’ve got your cinnamon, you’ve got your marshmallows shaped like pots of gold and rainbows. You really can have it all.

Special K with Red Berries and Cracklin’ Oat Bran

For when you want to pretend that you’re healthy

OK, OK, it’s completely awful to compare food to crack, a legitimately addictive substance that ruins lives! But if you were going to make that comparison, you’d do it with Cracklin’ Oat Bran, whose name actually includes the word “crack,” a cereal hilariously trying to appear healthy by shrouding its enormous sugar content with the words “oat” and “bran.” It’s just a bunch of high-fiber cookies shaped like Os! It’s great, though. And a natural partner to that other faux-healthy cereal, Special K with Red Berries. The mix of textures—freeze-dried fruit in the process of reconstituting, flakes, and those tiny rings of cookie turning to mush—is excellent here. Plus you can brag about how much fruit and fiber you ate for breakfast.

Honey Bunches of Oats and Honey Nut Cheerios

For when you know Honey Bunches of Oats is the best cereal in the game but also you like to experiment and try new things

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Sure, adding another cereal to Honey Bunches of Oats risks messing up an objectively perfect thing. But they’re both honey-flavored! And we’re going for contrasts here! And the sheer shape and texture of a single Cheerio is enough to swallow you back into a warm ballpit of childhood nostalgia! This combo is sort of everything you want from a breakfast mash-up: a cornucopia of textures, without too much flavor interference.

Honorable mentions: Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Captain Crunch; Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Peanut Butter Crunch; Crispix and Life; Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs; Rice Krispies and Cocoa Pebbles; Grape Nuts and Frosted Flakes