If you listen to podcasts, chances are you’ve heard about Magic Spoon cereal. Often shoved between ad reads for Hello Fresh, Athletic Greens, Daily Harvest, and mattresses galore, Magic Spoon’s ad copy makes big promises: It claims to be a “better-for-you” cereal that hits the spot without any of the “junk” in the leading breakfast cereals. The brand certainly appears to have found its niche, because Food Dive reports that Magic Spoon, once a direct-to-consumer product only available online, is now expanding to 6,800 grocery stores nationwide.
Launched in 2019 by co-founders Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz, Magic Spoon is a major play at pinpointing an unmet market need—something straight out of the Silicon Valley playbook.
“A lot of people see this massive market dominated by these three huge incumbents,” Lewis told NOSH in 2019, referring to cereal industry giants Kellogg, Post, and General Mills. “[But] when you look at the products that they are all putting out, pretty much everything in that cereal aisle today is high sugar, high carbs and full of junk, which is counter to every consumer trend we’re seeing.”
Enter Magic Spoon, which features colorful, playful packaging and boasts high protein, low carbs, zero sugar, and zero artificial ingredients. Each product in the lineup is grain-free and gluten-free, and the cereals are sweetened with a blend of monk fruit and allulose. Each variety of the cereal is meant to more or less ape our childhood favorites, with “Fruity” emulating Froot Loops, “Cocoa” evoking Cocoa Puffs, and so on. The Magic Spoon website proclaims that its cereal “tastes too good to be true,” which we’ll get into later.
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The brand is quick to point out its array of celebrity investors, a list that includes Amy Schumer, Halsey, Nas, Nick Jonas, Odell Beckham Jr., Russell Westbrook, Shakira, and The Chainsmokers. After steadily amassing over one million online customers, in June 2022, Magic Spoon announced an $85 million Series B fundraise and simultaneously hit Target shelves nationwide. In 2023, Food Dive explains, the brand will expand outward to Walmart, Kroger, and Albertsons stores as well.
I had the privilege of tasting some Magic Spoon samples last year. At first, this cereal tastes like almost nothing—maybe the brain is trained to expect a burst of corn syrup sweetness—but its mildness grew on me over time. I ate the Cocoa variety and found its level of sweetness perfect for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up (rather than breakfast). For a product that uses sugar alternatives, it has none of the bitter tang of stevia-sweetened products, which is impressive.
Surprisingly, the biggest downside is the tapioca starch, which allows the product to be grain-free and gluten-free. The starch has some nice give and is nice to bite into, but it gums up and sticks to your teeth so thoroughly that you might feel the need to immediately brush and floss. (I guess this reminder to practice good oral care isn’t strictly a bad thing.)
The same is true of the cereal bars, which I found to be a great snack to throw in a purse for my hangriest moments. Not too flavorful and not as big as I’d like, but perfectly functional and just a little bit fun. There are other bars I’d buy first as an everyday on-the-go snack, but I have no major complaints about the slightly crumbly contender.
Normally I’d encourage you to try this stuff for yourself, but Magic Spoon’s price can be a barrier to entry. Whereas a typical non-family-sized box of cereal typically contains 10-12 ounces of product, Magic Spoon’s diminutive boxes contain only 7 ounces. And with Target selling this stuff at a whopping $9.99 per box, it costs more than twice as much as anything you’d buy from Kellogg, Post, or General Mills.
Though Magic Spoon would be quick to point out that the steep price indicates the lack of cheap fillers in its product, there are plenty of healthy breakfast options that manage to eschew the sugar content of Frosted Flakes without charging a full Hamilton plus tax. If you enjoy a big bowl of cereal to get you going in the morning, Magic Spoon’s got about two servings per box, maximum.
With Magic Spoon scaling up its operations and supplying grocery stores nationwide, it’s possible we could see a slight reduction in price, as Impossible Foods has attempted to achieve. Until then, well, we all have certain groceries we like to splurge on—maybe trendy startup cereal is yours.