Welcome to In Poor Taste, a column about decadent food trends delivered with the intellectual curiosity of a Michelin critic and the care of a mukbang enthusiast. In today’s edition, we’re testing out “Pancake cereal,” as seen on TikTok.
I will begin with this disclaimer: Breakfast is my least favorite meal. The old adage may claim that it is the most important meal of the day, but to me, it is objectively the worst. Sure, many breakfast foods allow for customization: there are countless ways to prepare and plate eggs, for instance, and who doesn’t enjoy a decadent, carb-y dessert thing in the morning. But those foods are the exception, and I’d much prefer to order a lunch item off a brunch menu.
Consider pancakes. Pancake mix is not an ingredient that lends itself much to innovation: you can add things into it or on top of it, but the iconic circular shape remains. There’s a reason even IHOP, the International House of Pancakes, serves hearty lunch and dinner foods, too, alongside their flapjack offerings. Pancakes are simply not exciting.
And then I discovered “pancake cereal.” Leave it to a TikTok trend to change my opinion.
Much like how whipped coffee became an immediate social media phenomenon, the breakfast hack known as “pancake cereal” began making the rounds on TikTok earlier this month, soon cropping up on YouTube and Twitter, practically begging bored bloggers to join in the fun. “Pancake cereal” is exactly what it sounds like: pancakes, shrunken and piped out into teeny tiny nubs, served in a bowl to be consumed with a spoon. If that sounds like a waste of time to you that’s because it is—while pancake cereal looks fun and potentially controversial on camera, in practice, it’s obnoxious and much less satisfying than a plain stack of griddle cakes.
And so I watched a few videos of influencers recreating the dish, mostly in horror. I didn’t own the necessary materials to make perfectly-shaped pancake cereal pieces: in many cases, it requires a piping bag (in which you treat the mix like icing and siphon it out gently onto a pre-heated pan) and I was too lazy to make a DIY version by destroying a large zip-lock bag. Instead, I tried to hack the hack by bypassing the most tedious step, inadvertently ruining the process. I assume the quintessential person who wants pancake cereal wants it to look nice. I made a monstrosity.
Step one: make pancake mix. I recommend using the instant stuff because I cannot be bothered. Step two, throw pancake mix blobs onto a buttered pan to cook. (Between step one and two, a less lazy person would probably fill the aforementioned piping bag full of the gunk to make perfectly shaped mini pancakes.) I just scooped out big blobs and hoped for the best. It looked less purposeful and more like an elementary school-aged kid’s attempt to make small pancakes for her dog. (I’m not even sure dogs can digest pancakes, but there’s your peek behind the curtain of my childhood.) Once you see bubbles, flip ‘em and let ‘em fry. Step three: put the pancakes in a bowl, topped with syrup and butter.
Some TikTokers have filled the bowl with milk, which I added only after eating some delicious dry pieces because I knew the addition of dairy would produce a disgusting soggy mess, and it did. If you hate chewing and enjoy the taste of pancake, that might be a wonderful solution for you. I also did not enjoy the fact that most of the syrup pooled at the bottom of my bowl, making even distribution of flavors a total impossibility.
In conclusion: you’d be better off just making some damn pancakes, altering the crisp-level and flavor to your preference. However, I would not be surprised if breakfast restaurants (the aforementioned IHOP, or Dennys, or diners) manage to market their own version of this treat in an attempt to lower the average age of this costumer from, like, 64 to 12. I still wouldn’t order it. There are better foods.