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Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely young daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.

Culinary no-no #390

Culinary no-no's

When I was a kid, I loved breakfast cereals.

That was one of them. And there were others.

Yummy. Yes, indeed, they were great.

But truth be told, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a bowl of cereal. Nowadays breakfast for me is either a toaster strudel or a McMuffin.

I am not alone. Cereal in the morning has become a Culinary no-no.

In the latest quarter, industry-wide, cereal sales are down five percent. Kellogg’s is suffering from a 16% decline.

The good ol’ US of A, thumbing its collective nose…at corn flakes? What gives?

There are essentially three reasons, and they all make sense.

We begin with health. Even though we’ve been lectured to death that one-third or more of the country is obese, we’ve also been informed that America desperately wants to eat healthier, though it has an odd way of showing it.

Apple Jacks, one cup = 10 calories

Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, one cup = 100 calories

Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, ¾ cup = 100 calories

Cap’n Crunch, one cup = 144 calories

Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies, ¾ cup = 120 calories

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies, 1 ¼ cup = 130 calories

Number Two: Convenience.

The get-togetehr family meal, no matter the time of day, is a lost art. Keep in mind that today, you have to make your own cereal, that takes some time, and you more or less have to eat at home as opposed to dining while driving. Today’s Americans want breakfast, they want it now, they want it in a hurry.

Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for research firm NPD Group Inc., says the average American breakfast experience is 12 minutes. Compare that to what they spend on lunch (28 minutes) or dinner (24 minutes). Breakfast is eat a go-go.

And thirdly, profit. Restaurant companies concur breakfast brings in more profit because the ingredients aren’t as costly. Is it any wonder everybody is trying to incorporate breakfast into their once breakfast-free menus?

Consider that an increasing number of mothers of young children are in the workforce. That means more moms (or dads) have the pressure of not only preparing breakfast, but then dropping off children at day care or school and get to work.

Baby boomers are continuing to work, affecting the morning routines of America's most populous age group.

So let’s examine what the decline in cereal and the increased popularity in alternative breakfast items has brought us.

Burger King now offers its value-menu items at breakfast and added burgers to the morning menu in an effort to boost sales.

"People are time-pressed in the morning and know exactly where they're going, and that doesn't vary much," said Alex Macedo, Burger King's North American president.

Check out this graph:

Think of fast food breakfast and where would Taco Bill rank on your list?



Not at all?

Taco Bell, a unit of Yum Brands, in March kicked off its first national breakfast menu with a new waffle taco, Cinnabon sweet rolls and the 710-calorie A.M. Crunchwrap with sausage.
Yum’s CEO expects the breakfast business to add anywhere from $70,000 to $120,000 in annual sales per restaurant.

Breakfast? At Taco Bell? And it’s working?

How much sales breakfast business do you think happens at Dunkin’ Donuts?

Try 80% where the concentration is on breakfast sandwiches. Guess what? They outsell my favorites like jelly sticks and sour cream and every other doughnut.

It’s not just fast food places. Grocery stores that sell foods that are fast to prepare, highly portable and high in protein like Jimmy Dean biscuit sandwiches and ham-egg-and-cheese Hot Pockets are up in sales by 29% the last two years. That’s about $1 billion.

Consider another graph:

Factories that once produced Pop-Tarts, Pringles and Eggo Waffles are now closed.

Meanwhile McDonald's (smartly, I think) is toying, a la George Webb's, breakfast all day. And Taco Bell is renewing options with what I view as unappetizing breakfast slop.
Even so, the results thus far have been positive.

It all leads me to ponder.

A traditional McDonald’s Egg McMuffin amounts to 300 calories.

Is sitting down to a 12-minute cereal ritual really all that time-consuming?

So, is cereal a Culinary no-no or isn’t it?


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