Breakfast cereal (or simply cereal) is a traditional breakfast made from processed cereal grains. It is traditionally eaten as breakfast primarily in Western societies. Warm cereals like porridge and grits have the longest history. Ready-to-eat cold cereals, appearing around the late 19th century, are most often mixed with milk (traditionally cow's milk), but can also be paired with yogurt instead or eaten plain. Fruit or nuts are sometimes added. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion. Some companies promote their products for the health benefits that come from eating oat-based and high-fiber cereals. In the United States, cereals are often fortified with vitamins but can still lack many of the vitamins needed for a healthy breakfast. A significant proportion of cereals are made with high sugar content. Many are marketed towards children, feature a cartoon mascot, and may contain a toy or prize.

Between 1970 and 1998, the number of different types of breakfast cereals in the U.S. more than doubled, from about 160 to around 340; the forecasted trend for 2012 was 4,945 different types based on the mass customization of online shopping.[1] In this highly competitive market, breakfast cereal companies have developed an ever-increasing number of flavors (some are flavored like dessert or candy). Although many plain wheat, oat and corn- based cereals exist, other varieties are highly sweetened, while some brands include freeze-dried fruit as a sweet element. The breakfast cereal industry has gross profit margins of 40–45%,[2] 90% penetration in some markets,[3] and steady and continued growth throughout its history.[4]

Flaked breakfast cereal with milk and raspberries, served with juice and tea