Customer slams Kellog's CEO after advertising 'cereal for dinner'

@hoolie_r/TikTok Bruno Ismael Silva Alves/ShutterStock (Licensed)

‘What stage of capitalism is this?’: Viewers slam Kellogg’s CEO after he advertised cereal for dinner to make meals ‘more affordable’

"This is Kellogg’s version of 'let them eat cake.'"


Braden Bjella


Posted on Feb 25, 2024   Updated on Feb 28, 2024, 12:59 pm CST

Recently, WK Kellogg CEO Gary Pilnick attracted controversy after claiming that, at a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet, those in search of a cheap meal might want to consider eating cereal for dinner.

“If you think about the cost of cereal for a family versus what they might otherwise do, that’s going to be much more affordable,” Pilnick told CNBC. The comment was part of a discussion responding to an article from the Wall Street Journal that claimed Americans now spend about 10% of their income on food.

The CNBC host pushed back on this idea, saying, “I’m all for innovation in marketing, but the idea of having cereal for dinner — is there the potential for that to land the wrong way?”

Pilnick denied this idea, saying, “In fact, it’s landing really well right now. Cereal for dinner is something that is probably more on trend now, and we would expect to continue as that consumer is under pressure.”

While the comments sparked discussion and debate online, this is not a new move on the part of Kellogg’s. For example, in 2022, the company put out a commercial in which Frosted Flakes mascot Tony the Tiger encourages a family in a chant of, “When I say cereal, you say dinner!”

Still, many internet users were concerned about the idea of putting forth cereal as a dinner option, with some pointing to the fact that “Pilnick’s annual compensation includes a $1 million base salary and over $4 million in incentive compensation, according to a September 2023 SEC filing,” notes Business Insider.

One such internet user is TikTok user Julie (@hoolie_r), who went viral after stitching together the CNBC interview with the aforementioned commercial.

“Hey, um, what stage of capitalism is this?” she asks before playing the clips.

In the caption, she sarcastically adds, “‘They can’t afford groceries. Let’s capitalize on that.’”

@hoolie_r “They can’t afford groceries. Let’s capitalize on that.” #capitalism #inflation #groceries #prices #affordability #costofliving ♬ original sound – Julie 🍉

In the comments section, users shared their thoughts on Pilnick’s statement.

“Instead of ‘stop buying coffee’ it’s ‘well.. did you have cereal for dinner or splurge on a mcchicken?’” wrote a user.

“Cereal for dinner is what I did growing up dirt poor in the Appalachian foothills, so the stage of capitalism is ‘real bad,’” offered another.

“The way that they are acting like a box of cereal isn’t $7,” stated a third.

The Daily Dot reached out to WK Kellogg via email and Julie via TikTok direct message.

Update 12:58pm Feb. 28: In a TikTok DM exchange with the Daily Dot, Julie says the CNBC interview was not surprising to her, but she was “still annoyed at the audacity of the CEO to come onto TV and casually and confidently talk about how they’d be marketing to consumers in that way based on the fact they can’t afford basic groceries.”

“I think the comments and general reaction goes to show how sick of it people are,” she wrote. “People are realizing the extent that the ultra wealthy are taking advantage of the rest of us and just how bad the rest of us have it, from groceries to rent to workers protections and more, all while wages don’t keep up. We can’t stay on this trajectory much longer.”

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*First Published: Feb 25, 2024, 10:00 am CST