Milk first or cereal first: a nation divided

Cereal! Everyone’s favorite breathtaking breakfast was originally created in 1863. Since then, the promised land of perfect taste and unparalleled mouth-feel has always remained just out of reach, because humanity remains bitterly divided over how cereal should be united with its eternal soulmate, milk. The perfect mix of a cold liquid and a crunchy, room-temperature solid has the potential to unite our divided world. But progress toward that delicious utopia has been halted by a bitter and misguided movement that resists the natural order in which the milk and the cereal should combine.

I won’t pretend that this isn’t of personal importance to me. For the most part, I am a very understanding and compassionate person. I am aware that not everyone will have the same viewpoints as me, and that diverse ideas and perspectives are what make life interesting. However, there is one place where I must draw the line. The milk should always be poured before the cereal. I will now explain my sound and logical reasoning. After reading this article, if anyone is still somehow in disagreement, they can kindly stick their head into my bowl of milk (before or after the cereal is added – your choice).

No matter where you stand on the milk-pouring spectrum, we can all agree that the common enemy of an enjoyable cereal experience is sog. Soggy cereal completely ruins the crunch-to-milk ratio and can deter even the most committed cereal enthusiast from finishing the bowl. So when considering which pouring order is superior, it is absolutely essential to take the sog factor into account. In clinical studies, the milk-first method has been proven to eliminate as much as 90 percent of the sog issues faced by cereal consumers across the world ( When the milk is poured first, the cereal is able to sit gracefully on top of its dairy (or dairy alternative) base. The eater can then push the cereal down with a spoon if they prefer a more thoroughly soaked grain, or leave it on top for a drier and purer crunch. By contrast, in the inferior and frankly disgusting “cereal-first” method, there is no choice but to completely soak the cereal before intake even begins. This not only traps perfectly good cereal pieces at the bottom of the bowl, which are destined to become soggy and inedible before the eater can get to them, but it also increases the overall cereal sog coefficient by 35 percent (

Now, of course, I have heard cereal-firsters argue that it is difficult to calculate in advance the correct amount of milk to pour for your intended amount of cereal. There is not much to say to such people. This argument only demonstrates their stagnant and lackadaisical mindset. Anyone can simply pour cereal into a bowl and then fill the bowl with milk. Monkeys in lab experiments learn to do it in under ten minutes ( It requires no mental training, no analytical precision, no artistic commitment to the craft of cereal preparation. On the contrary, when one pours the milk first, one has to envision the perfect ratio in one’s mind and then strive to give one’s vision physical form in the bowl. The pourer seeks but never attains perfection. The pourer come to understand that life, like cereal, is measured in small incremental improvements, one pour after another. Every new bowl brings the hope of a more perfect pour.

Finally, even the most responsible members of the cereal community have to live with the constant risk of over-cerealing. Reader, someone close to you may be struggling with this issue now. Cereal-firsters often claim that individuals are to blame, but this could not be further from the truth. In fact, the problem is systemic, and can be traced back to the cereal-first mentality. Human psychology dictates that when faced with an empty bowl, it is virtually impossible for a cereal-eater not to over-fill the bowl with cereal. However, there is no such temptation when pouring milk into an empty bowl. For reasons scientists are still attempting to understand, milk appears to have a calming effect. Recent studies have shown that the milk-first approach reduces over-filling by up to 58% in certain populations (

I know that the opinions I’ve shared above may seem controversial to some. I know that the cereal world is wider than even my widest cereal spoon. And while I stand firm in my adherence to the milk-first doctrine, I also believe that the cereal community is strengthened by an honest exchange of views. So here is my pledge: cereal-firsters, you may pull your heads out of my bowl, and I will hear you out. The arc of the milk is long, but it bends toward the bowl – whether there is cereal in it or not.