Cereal Eats: Special K

Cereal Eats

Breakfastime musings about cereal.


[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

"Are you crying? Oh baby, please, you are too fine to look, so sad"

—Kenny "Special K" Fisher, Can't Hardly Wait.

During these January days, dieting, detoxing, and light-eating are popular topics around the Internet. If you (like me) spent the holidays making cookies for the sole purpose of sneaking furtive pinches of dough in the cold, exposing light of the fridge, and now your pants are currently so tight that you occasionally have to unbutton while lounging on your couch / at your desk at work / a nice restaurant—then yeah, some lighter eating is in order.

Cereal is a danger zone for me. Any true cereal love never stops at just one bowl and the half and three-fourths a cup serving-size are just downright cruel. A few (hundred) mindless (large) handfuls can suddenly result in 1,000 empty calories without even a second thought. Enter Special K , a cereal that's dedicated its life to trying to help people eat right and lose weight.

While other benign cereals like Corn Flakes and Cheerios were banned from the Palermo cabinets, Special K was always welcome. With its minimal ingredients and full cup serving size, it's a no-nonsense and fairly virtuous cereal.

It never stood out during my childhood, but even when I made cool new friends in college like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Lucky Charms, I still occasionally shared a meal with good ol' dependable Special K. I've heard people call it flavorless and cardboard-y, a low-fat "diet" cereal that's no fun. On the flip side, it's been a saving grace for cereal lovers trying to shed a couple pounds.

"The Special K Challenge" is a diet designed to help you lose six pounds in two weeks with the following plan:

Meal 1: a serving of any Special K Cereal with 2/3 cup skim milk and fruit
Meal 2: a Special K Protein Meal Bar, a Special K Protein Shake, or another serving of Special K cereal with 2/3 cup skim milk and fruit.
Meal 3: can be eaten normally.

Cereal for two meals of the day? Doesn't sound all that bad to me. But to be honest, if I'm replacing a meal with cereal, its usually dinner and I'm usually having three to four bowls. I would be starving on that diet.


Similar to the classic Corn Flakes, Special K is also made by Kellogg's and is of the "plain tasting flake" format. But in my opinion, Special K is unique and set apart from other flakes. The box describes it as a lightly toasted rice cereal. The pale flakes are light and airy, with lacy, fluted edges tinged with dark brown and bubbles throughout the body. The rice gives them a super light and pleasant crunch, with a distinct toasty taste that lingers on the tongue.

In milk they quietly float together like sea anemones, softening in an appealing way, yet leaving just the right amount of crunch. While breathlessly devouring a bowl to inspire me for this post, I was surprised at how simple and tasty Special K is without needing any clusters or twigs or any other sort of items to fill it out. Granted, those versions exist, but that's another story for another time.

I should mention that Special K also makes a large variety of other products like bars, protein shakes, crackers and more. I haven't tried any and, frankly, am a little scared of them.

Final note: I'm totally aware that healthy and smart eating is far different from the accepted terms of dieting and detoxing. I'm also aware of the merits of a healthy eating lifestyle with natural whole foods over a "diet" or "diet food." I'm not endorsing nor trying to dissuade anyone from eating Special K to lose weight. I just happen to love the K and the K loves trying to help people lose weight. I respect it for that.

Any Special K lovers? Do you love it for its low calories or its flavor?