I like my cereal cold. I hate it when you get to the end of a bowl and are left with room temperature milk. So a few years ago I had the thought to put ice cubes in my cereal. Seemed like a perfectly sane thing to do. But the response I received from my husband and friends was far from acceptance.
I’m not alone. There are plenty of others like me out there who like to start their day with the tinkling sound of ice in a cereal bowl. On New Year’s Day, 2020, Gene Simmons tweeted out a picture of a bowl of Oreo O’s and Frosted Mini Wheats (yes, mixed together) floating alongside at least four ice cubes with the caption: “Anyone else put ice cubes in their cereal?” With the power of a love gun (for those of you not in the KISS army, that’s a reference), the tweet set off a series of think pieces on the subject with outlets like Food & Wine and Delish reporting on the phenomenon as if Simmons and the rest of us cereal icers were engaging in some outlandish practice. It’s not like we’re eating cereal out of a hollowed out armadillo or with water instead of milk (now those people need help).
But that wasn’t the first time the “trend” made the rounds in food media. Back in 2015, Twitter user @Vidarrina confessed to adding ice cubes to cereal and caused a similar uproar online. Some like minded folks posted their own pics of iced down Froot Loops, while others, like Thrillist, declared the practice just plain wrong. So here we go again.
Now, while I refuse to give up my very cold cereal due to peer pressure or mass online derision, I’m open to change—as long as the outcome (extremely cold cereal) remains the same. So I did some experimentation to see if any alternative tactics could be found:
What: A metal mixing bowl filled with cereal and milk straight from the fridge.
How It Worked: I don’t have a classic metal bowl, but I do have a metal camping mug so I tried that. It didn’t work. Yes, it kept the milk slightly cooler. But it didn’t keep it at the ice-cold temperature I was looking for. Next!
Ice Water Bath
What: Sometimes a recipe calls for something to be dunked into an ice bath—like green beans after they’ve been blanched to stop them from cooking. In this case, the bowl of cereal itself is placed into a larger bowl that has been filled with water and ice.
How It Worked: This was the best way to pretend that I was eating a dish full of oysters for breakfast instead of a lowly bowl of cereal. But it still didn’t do the trick. It definitely kept the milk cold but it was slow. By the time the milk was at my desired temperature (I want the milk extremely cold—colder than fridge cold), the shredded wheat was completely soggy.
What: The gifts you give people you know nothing about except for the fact that they enjoy drinking, whiskey stones are square-shaped rocks you put in the freezer and then put in your whiskey. The idea is that they don’t dilute your precious booze. In this case, they replaced the ice in my cereal.
How It Worked: I just don’t like rocks in my cereal. It feels weird. It feels dirty. And it still didn’t get the milk as cold as I needed it to be (though they did the best job out of the ice cube alternatives I tried). They’re also much harder to maneuver around with a spoon than ice cubes. They sink to the bottom of the bowl and just get in the way. So it’s a Hard pass. Still no good reason to own whiskey stones.
Tried-and-True Ice Cubes in a Bowl
What: A bowl of cereal and milk with three or so big cubes of ice. I used fancy, square silicone ice cube trays. But, really, any ice will work.
How It Worked: Ah, that’s the stuff. It turns out it’s about more than just very cold milk. I like the ice cubes’ presence in the bowl. I like scooping close to them for the extra cold stuff and further away for the slightly less very cold stuff. I like that they chill the cereal as well as the milk. I like that they’re mild obstacles I need to navigate the spoon around. I like ice cubes in my cereal. Experiment over. Let the internet argument cycle commence again. I will not change.