Why are mini pancake cereals such a big trend on TikTok right now?
Photos: stickaforkineme / soflofooodie / sweetportfolio / Instagram; Illustration: Emily Carpenter / Thrillist
You have seen it on your feed countless times. Small dots of batter are poured onto a hot frying pan and just as the bottom of the pan is covered in spots, they are turned over to reveal golden dime-sized pancakes. To cut. Now move quickly to the bowl, where the little pancakes are dumped and topped with a thick square of butter and drizzled with syrup or – more appropriately for the name – dipped in milk by a hand connected to an off-screen body.
It’s cereal pancakes. Sydney Melhoff came up with the idea in April. She had just finished making a batch of regular pancakes when she scooped up some of the batter that had baked on the side of the pan. It was so good – like a crispier version of the warm, slightly sweet pancakes we all love – so she made a whole bowl of little bites and posted it on TikTok. His version looks a lot more like the Dippin ‘Dots version of pancakes than the thousands of bite-sized pancake cereal posts that followed and dominated TikTok and Instagram over the past month.
In no time, videos tagged with #pancakecereal have racked up over a billion views on TikTok and Melhoff’s video has inspired thousands of spin-offs, including ours. There was a time when I couldn’t open any of the apps without seeing another bowl full of tiny pancakes floating in milk, but a few weeks later that scene had been replaced by muffins, donuts, cinnamon buns, cookies, croissants and just about every other morning treat you could think of splashed with a healthy serving of milk.
I haven’t given it much thought. It was just another viral food trend like Dalgona coffee or frog bread, but sushi has been the recent tipping point. When i saw that Asian Bistro Wave in Mount Dora, Florida, made a bun, sliced ââit, and poured milk over the raw fish, rice, and seaweed for later post it on Instagram, I had to ask … What is happening here?
So I went straight to the source and talked to six Instagrammers and TikTokers about why they jumped on the viral trend. Melhoff said his latest grain posts, like banana cereal and pop cake cereal, became a fun creative outlet, and several other posters echoed his sentiment. Valentina Mussi, who manages the Instagram account soft portfolio, said while doing mini cereal muffins and mini pizza cereal (akaâ¦ Bagel Bites?) Posting to her feed was a fun way to use the free time we all have while we’re indoors to try and prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.
By making several variations of waffle and tiny donuts cereal, Stephanie Ghitis and Shalean LaBerge, who run the Instagram account sofloooodie stated that it can be “really long” to individually cut, glaze and sprinkle small donuts, and that doesn’t even take into account the time you take to shoot the video, edit it, write the recipe for the caption, and post it. But the duo said they kept trying different variations of the cereal because “anything tiny seems to catch people’s attention.”
And they are right. But why is that? We have always liked the little things. there are shows dedicated to small houses and social media accounts which consist of small architecture, tiny people on things not so small, NSand things that happen to be tiny. All over the world children play with little houses with tiny people inside, and I had a small oven that I used to bake cupcakes with my own little hands. We love everything small! But why?
There’s no shortage of the little things we all love, and this isn’t the first time our obsession with all the little things has manifested itself in the food world. Yes there is already Crispy cookie, Official Brand Pop Tart Cereal, and Crunchy French toast on supermarket shelves, but mini-food was a part of our lives via sliders, cupcakes and Munchkins Dunkin ‘Donuts before the idea of ââcereal even kicked in. Plus, it was already everywhere. on the Internet (and it was even smaller), mainly thanks to the Japanese culture of kawaii.
Kawaii, which loosely translates to “cute,” is a cornerstone of Japanese pop culture that includes Hello Kitty, countless comics, and other forms of entertainment. This too has made a foray into the world of food via YouTube. Chains like Miniature space prepare food on small baking sheets the size of your tiny fingernail and use pots and pans that might be difficult to grip if you have very long acrylic fingernails or are just not very nimble . These accounts garnered millions of views and captivated viewers as of 2014, long before TikTok was even a distant idea.
For years, psychologists and other professionals who study miniatures have said that doing little things like doll houses or, in this case, cereal made from things that are not traditionally cereals, can have a positive influence on your mental health. Engaging in a complex project, like doing something miniature, can make you forget everything that is going on around them and help you relax.
âThere is a level of control that is appealing,â Nicole Cooley, a professor at Queens College who is working on a non-fiction book about drawing miniatures, said to New York Times in 2016. And other experts told the Times that miniatures are related to fantasy in the sense that they help users escape harsh realities, so in this time of immense uncertainty and constant stress, something as small as wrapping mini croissants or wrapping mini cinnamon buns can be soothing and stress relieving. Plus, we’ve already found some solace in eating donuts, breads, and other soothing carbs, so making them miniature only sweetens the deal.
Rachel Samson, who manages the Instagram account stickaforkinme, said viral food like this can be hit and miss, and honestly some of the grain variations she made missed the mark. The chocolate chip cookie cereal turned into a full porridge within minutes as the cookies soaked up the milk surrounding them, while its PB&J variant which used chunks of French Toast Crunch cereal remained crisp and had a well-balanced flavor. .
But Samson said she has gained around 100,000 subscribers since we all started quarantining as users clamor for something fun to watch or try out for long days at home. Considering the potential for viral fame, the mental health benefits of making something tiny, and frankly the mere prospect of having something fun to do that might taste good in the end, you really can’t blame the masses for indulging in a little mini grain trend.