It’s a choice every one of us faces upon the conclusion of our cereal: drink the milk, or don’t drink the milk. Some people tip the bowl up and drink. Others don’t. These people are wrong. The correct choice is Drink The Milk.
We face this choice because cereal is a terrible food. It either tastes too sweet, or like mossy forest log. Nineteen times out of twenty it’s barely edible. Cereal is a triumph of treacherous market forces that have somehow convinced Americans that they should shovel processed carbohydrates (basically sugar) into our faces to start the day. It has almost zero credibility as a food, and cereal makers know this, which is why they desperately advertise anything that is even remotely close to being a health benefit (“Contains No Radioactive Materials!”) on the box. This is where milk comes in. Milk has Vitamin D and calcium. Cereal basks in the glow of milk’s reflected competence.
How bad is cereal? If cereal hadn’t been invented yet, and someone tried to invent it now, and Big Cornflake and all the rectangle states that decide presidential primaries didn’t have an entrenched interest, the nation’s health advocates would be all Oh, hell, no, you are not feeding that no-protein-having, highly-addictive, sugar trash to our children (who happen to be our future.) It would a novelty food at best, not a staple.
Cereal is so dysfunctional that the user experience is not intuitive. There is milk at the end because we as a nation pour far too much milk into our cereal. Most of us pour until the level of milk rises to meet the level of flake. This is overkill. Nobody needs that much milk. Yet we do it over and over again, over-pouring every time, because we as a species are capable of learning nothing. When Trump gets a fourth term and coastal elites are all “You guys, how did he get four terms?” I am going to hurl bowls of cereal at everyone blubbering at the Santa Monica Co-Op.
For the record, the proper pour is about halfway up the cereal. Then you stir it for optimal 1:1 milk-to-flake distribution. By the end of the bowl there should be nothing left. If you must eat cereal, that’s how you eat it. That’s what a responsible person does. That’s how you make every day Earth Day.
The biggest complaint among people who don’t drink the milk is that they say it’s “disgusting,” like everything else about spooning a heaping bowl of Twig & Bristle Crunch marinated in sterilized cow juice and washing it down with massively concentrated liquified orange wasn’t disgusting already. Disgusting is a matter of degree.
If you’re going to buy the ticket, take the ride. Lean all the way in. Cereal is tragedy, but the after-milk combines milk’s howdy-neighbor cordiality with your insatiable desire for processed carbohydrates that have been scientifically engineered to guarantee human loss of self-control. It’s magically delicious.
Joe Donatelli is the Senior Writer at Los Angeles magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @joedonatelli and Facebook. He wrote The Story Behind the Most Inescapable Billboard in Los Angeles.