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INDUSTRY GETS BOWLED OVER ABOUT CEREAL.

Byline: Allison Zisko

NEW YORK-A lot of people eat a lot of cereal.

At least 95 percent of Americans eat cereal, and although that statistic comes from cereal makers themselves, anecdotal evidence shows that there is plenty of enthusiasm for this most simple of meals.

That spells good news for the makers of cereal bowls. And the recent opening of Cereality, a 1,500-square-foot Philadelphia shop that sells nothing but cereal -- albeit in disposable containers -- could spur further interest in one of the dinnerware workhorses: the soup/cereal bowl.

Cereality, which has gotten plugs in Time, People and other national media, has taken cereal eating to a new level with the slogan "All cereal, all days, all ways." It offers more than 30 brands of cereal and more than 30 different toppings, mixed together by a pajama-clad "Cereaologist" in a homey kitchen setting.

Cereality, which piloted the concept at the University of Arizona and plans to roll out further stores, does its biggest business after 4 p.m., according to a company spokeswoman, indicating that cereal is not just for breakfast anymore. A custom-made leakproof container that looks like a Chinese take-out carton makes the cereal particularly portable, and although that doesn't do much for ceramic dinnerware sales, the heightened publicity surrounding breakfast just might.

"They've brought excitement to the idea of cereal," a Cereality spokeswoman said.

Some tabletop manufacturers have always been excited about cereal bowls.

"It's our single biggest-selling SKU," said David Zrike, vice president of The Zrike Co., which supplies Target, among others. "We're looking at doing multiple shapes of bowls."

"We're intrigued by the fact that these cereal shops are opening," he added, having first read about them in Time. Zrike said he doesn't eat cereal, but his kids do, all day, and have their favorite bowls (he didn't mention whether they were made by Zrike).

"The desire to achieve a state of serenity and balance in 2005 is closely tied to nutrition; the organic, holistic aspect of cereals goes hand-in-hand with that trend," said Victoria Amado, design and merchandising director of Gibson USA.

Soup/cereal bowls, as they are often marketed, have always been a part of Pfaltzgraff's, Sakura's and others' boxed set configurations. And as an open-stock item, they are proliferating, according to Floyd Sullivan, Pfaltzgraff's director of communications.

The deep cereal/soup bowl in Pfaltzgraff's Pistoulet pattern "sold like crazy" and prompted the inclusion of two sizes of such bowls in its most recent dinnerware introduction, Villa della Luna, by the same designer who created Pistoulet.

"When we design the bowls, we keep that in mind. They're deep, vertically rounded, as much [geared to] cereal as soup, certainly," said Sullivan, who claims a fondness for Cocoa Krispies.

The depth and shape of a cereal bowl can tip consumers toward one dinnerware pattern or another.

"It's one of the deciding factors in choosing dinnerware," said Michelle Hallock, marketing manager for Denby. "It can be a point of differentiation among patterns."

If the cereal bowl is too small, she said, couples may be inclined to pick something else.

Caption(s): 1. Cereality's cereal bowl is disposable, but the concept can spur interest in eating more cereal at home, from a more permanent bowl. / 2. Denby's Jet bowl is deep enough to hold anything from soup to nuts to cereal. / 3. Cereal bowls are a big business for Zrike. This one is part of Tracy Porter's Artesian Road collection. / 4. Pick your cereal, pick your color: Rainbowls from Gibson.
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Author:Zisko, Allison
Publication:HFN The Weekly Newspaper for the Home Furnishing Network
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 31, 2005
Words:583
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