Cereal cafes in Europe serving Lucky Charms This photo taken July 10, 2016, shows Pop Cereal Cafe in Lisbon, Portugal. Cereal cafes have spread around Europe as young professionals tap into a yearning for nostalgia and novelty with blends of sugary American and foreign cereals. (Pop Cereal Cafe via AP/Albert Stumm via AP)
Cereal cafes in Europe serving Lucky Charms

Travelers wandering the streets of European capitals in search of old-world charm might just as likely stumble upon from the New World. The might find a bowl of Lucky Charms.

Cafes serving American breakfast cereal have exploded in popularity in Europe. Young businesspeople are tapping nostalgia. They are tapping into novelty. Customers pay between $3 and $9 a bowl. In U.S. stores, you can buy entire boxes of cereal for less.

Cafes have opened in many cities. This has happened in the last two years. These cities include London. Paris., Madrid. Barcelona. Lisbon. Berlin. Hamburg. Manchester. The trend also has a place in the Middle East.

There's no single model for the cafes. But they tend to offer at least 100 brands. They offer dozens of fruit toppings. They also offer candy toppings. They offer sweet syrups. And they have several kinds of milk. The milk includes nondairy and flavored varieties. 

Many also serve coffee. They serve cereal-flavored milkshakes. They my offer soft-serve sundaes. Many provide inventive takes on Rice Krispies treats. These are like tiered cakes. The cakes are made from marshmallowy layers of Fruity Pebbles. They are made from Apple Jacks. And they are made from other sugary cereals. Rare varieties from foreign countries also bring in homesick expats.

A classic bowl with milk is still the standard. But they're often topped with combinations. These combinations go far beyond what most Americans would recognize as a breakfast banana sliced over Corn Flakes.

Pop Cereal Cafe is in Lisbon. It has a very popular mix. It includes Froot Loops. It also has Rice Krispies. And it has mini marshmallows and dried strawberries. It is topped with strawberry syrup. It is also topped with a waffle cookie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It is served with a side of milk. It comes in a glass bottle.

"Cereal has existed for what, a hundred years?" This was the question posed by one of Pop's three owners, Filipe Vicente. He is 32. "But for a hundred years it was cereal and milk and that was pretty much it. Now this product has so many varieties. The combinations are endless. We think, what about ice cream or pudding? Why not?"

Brightly colored boxes line the shelves at Pop. This is for both practical and decorative purposes. A bunkbed and padded benches let patrons doze off for a quick nap. Pop has also hosted events. These include a pajama party with a live band called Beliche. That is Portuguese for bunkbed.

Vicente was a mechanical engineer until 2016. He said they got the idea from seeing Cereal Killer Cafe in London. It was the first of its kind in Europe. Identical twins from Belfast had opened it in 2014. That was after they saw cereal cafes in the United States. It was also after watching the 2007 independent movie "Flakes." Now Cereal Killer has two more stores in England. It also has branches in Jordan, Dubai and Kuwait.

Cafes had opened in Chicago, Florida and Texas. Most have closed. But two flashy entries opened recently in New York. One is a Kellogg's-branded flagship. It is near Times Square. The other is inside a designer sneaker store. It is in Brooklyn.

But nowhere has the trend caught on quite like it has in Europe. In Europe, grocery stores never stocked the hundreds of varieties that fill entire aisles of American supermarkets.

Nicolas Castan is one of three people behind El Flako. It is in Barcelona. He said the lack of experience led to some risky combinations after they opened in the spring of 2017.

"Almost half the people would make their own.  But they wouldn't finish it because they were making really weird mixes, like Froot Loops with chocolate Krave," said Castan. He previously worked in public relations. "So, we tried to make sure the combinations are balanced with both flavor and texture."

On one recent afternoon, all of El Flako's 20 seats were filled. Most seats were filled with Spanish speakers. They giggled at the menu's fruity, chocolatey, honey or healthy combinations. Lining the white shelves around them were colorful boxes. The boxes included Sugar Smacks. They had boxes with Disney Princess and dozens of others cereals. There were also potted plants labeled with first names of famous rock singers. These names included Patti, Jim and Alice. A soundtrack of The Doors, Jimi Hendrix and The Clash pumped out of the speakers.

Castan is 29. He said the nod to classic rock points to the origins of the boxed-cereal boom in the 1960s and '70s. "We have a concept of going back to the roots. We are returning to being a kid, back to the origins."

The combination of novelty and atmosphere were enough to attract Maria Roca. She is a 19-year-old student from the University of Barcelona.

"It's not cheap, but it's not really expensive," said Roca, who had a 5.60 euro combo of Cookie Krisp, Choco Krispies, Kinder chocolates, M&Ms, bananas and chocolate milk. "And it's something original, so I wanted to show her."

Would they be back?

"Yes, for sure," said Amor, who had Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Apple Jacks with honey, apples and wheat milk. "It was really good, and you wouldn't do that at home."

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Why might eating a cereal in a cafe be appealing to customers?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • kendalm-hol
    10/20/2017 - 10:03 a.m.

    Eating cereal in a cafe is appealing to customers because they have made cereal differently by adding all types of topping and syrups you could use. The article says "And it's something original."

  • parkern-hol
    10/20/2017 - 10:04 a.m.

    eating cereal in a cafe might be appealing to customers because it is a good surrounding and the customers want a friendly environment to eat.

  • donovanc-hol
    10/20/2017 - 10:25 a.m.

    It might remind people of their childhood. Or they might be intrigued because of the sundaes or the milkshakes.

  • tylerb-hol1
    10/20/2017 - 10:26 a.m.

    It brings people nostalgia. It reminds them of when they were kids and ate the cereal all the time. It's also probably nice to be able to sit down with people and have a nice chat while you both eat weird mixtures of cereal.

  • alexb-hol1
    10/20/2017 - 11:31 a.m.

    It would be appealing to some people who don't like doing dishes at home. A plus side to being in a cafe would be the ability to get coffee and just be in a friendly environment.

  • zachh-hol1
    10/20/2017 - 11:32 a.m.

    eating a cereal in a cafe may be appealing because it is a brand new experience the will make money... key word "money"...

  • haydens-hol
    10/20/2017 - 11:32 a.m.

    It might be appealing because early in the morning people may be hungry for cereal and nothing else.

  • alexv-hol1
    10/20/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    eating a cereal in a cafe be appealing to customers because maybe there is cereal that is no longer in stores and they might have it or maybe for old people or other people might have earns somewhere in a different town so eating there would be better for them.

  • jimmyrc-hol
    10/20/2017 - 11:35 a.m.

    eating cereal in a cafe can be pealing to some costumers because it is something new and if it is an American cereal then it might be completely new to them. It is like us when something from overseas becomes popular in the US. We say "I have to try this"

  • liamr-hol1
    10/20/2017 - 11:37 a.m.

    Eating cereal in a cafe is appealing to customers because of nostalgia. People like eating cereal that they ate before going to school as a kid.

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