Breakfast is big business. Americans gobbled up $8.5 billion worth of ready-to-eat cereal over the past year, according to IRI, a market research firm. Just four companies – General Mills (GIS), Kellogg (K), Post Holdings (POST) and Quaker Foods, a division of PepsiCo (PEP) – collectively accounted for $7.3 billion of those sales.  Here are the TOP DOZEN cereals (based on sales) for last year.


#12 – Rice Krispies with $1.36 million in sales (also known as Rice Bubbles in Australia and New Zealand) is a breakfast cereal marketed by Kellogg’s and was released to the public in 1928. Rice Krispies are made of crisped rice. When milk is added to the cereal the walls tend to collapse, creating the “Snap, crackle, and pop” sounds. Rice Krispies cereal has a long advertising history, with the elf cartoon characters Snap, Crackle and Pop touting the brand.


#11 – Special K had $167.1 million in sales last year. The addition of seven vitamins and iron made Special K so special when it was released 63 years ago. This classic Kellogg cereal is still special today with volume growth of more than 6% that the brand. The average unit price of $3.55, unchanged year-over-year and is the highest among the 12 most popular cereals in the U.S Kellogg’s promotes Special K as a healthful and nutritious choice for adults, the analysts note. The cereal is especially high in iron (35% of recommended daily value per serving) and folic acid (60%).


#10- Raisin Bran with retail sales: $1.84 million. The Kellogg Company dominates breakfast cereal with 30.01% market share. The company did about $2.59 billion in annual sales last year and its Raisin Bran cereal was one of its biggest sellers. Whether Raisin Bran sits at the back of your shelf until other sugary cereals are gone is a different story.


#9 – Frosted Mini-Wheats had retail sales of $2.46 million. Trying to eat all the minis before the sugary frosting melts into the milk is a game kids (and adults) can’t resist. Maybe that’s why Frosted Mini-Wheats is another top performer for Kellogg.


#8 – Lucky Charms had retail sales of $2.63 million last year. There’s not a child in America whose Saturday mornings weren’t consumed with chomping down on a perfectly rationed bite of marshmallow bits and crunchy shamrocks. General Mills has been struggling to post profitable sales numbers for years now, but nothing will take the place of the magical deliciousness of Lucky Charms, one of its many top-selling products on this list (They also make fruity Lucky Charms).


#7 – Fruit Loops had retail sales of $2.67 million is another crowd-pleaser, takes the seventh spot in America’s favorite breakfast cereal ranking. This is welcomed news for Paul T. Norman, senior vice-president and president of Kellogg North America. He told Food Business News that the company is relying on kid-oriented products like Fruit Loops to stay afloat as sales have declined 2.3% year-over-year.


#6 – Cheerios saw sales increase with $3.31 million last year. When it comes to the sale of Cheerios, General Mills is extremely happy. Toddlers and Generation X-ers have Cheerios in the bag and eat them dry. It’s not General Mills’ top-selling cereal, but it’s pretty darn close. It is #1 when you add the other types of Cheerios like Honey Nut (see later on this list), Multi-Grain and Cinnamon Oat Crunch. Good Old Fashion Cheerios see sales increase by an average of 3.6% year-over-year.


#5 – Cinnamon Toast Crunch with retail sales of $3.70 million is #5 on our list.  First, we should acknowledge that Cinnamon Toast Crunch wins the award for most delicious leftover cereal milk in the bowl. These little toasts were one of the few products that actually posted positive sales year-over-year. General Mills debuted multiple successful versions of the cereal such as blueberry, apple, and strawberry-flavored crunch, but consumers bought nearly 111 million boxes of the original Cinnamon Toast Crunch last year.


#4 – Honey Bunches of Oats had retail sales of $3.98 million. Post Holdings has Honey Bunches of Oats to thank for its only appearance on America’s list of favorite breakfast cereals. Though Post only managed to earn a 0.14% increase in dollar sales year-over-year, many consider it a win. Experts attribute Honey Bunches of Oats success to changing consumer behavior, as more people are opting for healthier cereal alternatives with less sugar. Created by lifelong Post employee Vernon J. Herzing by mixing several of Post’s cereals together and having his daughter taste them, Honey Bunches of Oats was introduced to markets in 1989 after three years of development They also have multiple versions on the brand including with almonds, granola, vanilla and strawberries.


#3 – Frosted Flakes are great! They had retail sales of $4.13 million. Given the choice between your average run-of-the-mill corn flakes and the sweet, Tiger-approved frosted corn flakes, most would choose the latter. It’s Kellogg’s best-selling cereal by far. Consumers bought $4.13 million worth of flakes last year alone. Like most of Kellogg’s products, sales did decline significantly, but Frosted Flakes hold on this list is likely to remain.


#2 – Honey Nut Cheerios had retail sales of $5.03 million. General Mills’ Honey Nut Cheerios just missed the top spot for America’s best-selling product. The high sales numbers for this cereal prove consumers are starving for a nice mix of healthy nutrients paired with a bit of sweetness. When combines with good, old fashioned Cheerios, they are the #1 selling cereal type by far!


#1 – With retail sales at $6.46 million …The best-selling cereals are actually private label or store brands. Yup, once again Americans choose generic options over name-brand products for both price and taste. In some locations, private label cereal can be more than a dollar cheaper than name-brand options. The nation’s love affair with store-brand labels at Costco, Aldi, or Walmart outshines time-tested and iconic cereal brands to the tune of $6.46 million in annual sales.


I was shocked to see that some of my favorites didn’t land in the top including: Cocoa Puffs, Life (Mikey likes it), and Chex cereals (rice & corn).

Also missing are: Wheaties (they do taste like cardboard to me), Alpha Bits (loved spelling out words in my cereal bowl), Honey Combs (too big for my mouth), Trix (they are for kids), Kix, Corn Pops (ok but dry), Fruity Pebbles (way to sweet), Golden Grahams (never ate them much) & Reese’s Puffs (peanut butter cereal … yum!)