You’ve gotten older, but picking the marshmallows out of a huge bowl of Lucky Charms and watching the milk turn a greenish blue color is probably still a thrill for you. Even if you now eat two hard-boiled eggs before you head to work, you secretly still crave a bite of Cap’n Crunch or Fruity Pebbles, don’t you?
Well, don’t worry. You don’t have to swipe some from the kids you know in the neighborhood who are tight with Tony the Tiger. The Cereal Box in Arvada allows you to indulge in the breakfast or late-night fix of your dreams — with cereal of course.
This colorful dessert shop specializes in sweet treats—from cereal-mixed milkshakes and hot cocoa drinks, to create-your-own bowls decorated with sprinkles, nuts, chocolate syrup and other ice cream-esque toppings, The Cereal Box is every child’s dream and [cough] adult’s as well.
According to the couple, the idea originated after deciding to call a career in advertising quits.
“It was just a concept we came up with at work. We just thought of the most fun place you could work at if you weren’t doing a day-to-day job,” Emmerson said.
The cereal theme was inspired by Hofer’s and Emmerson’s childhood memories.
“It’s kind of a throwback to our childhood growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s—Saturday morning was the morning. You’d get cereal and park in front of the TV to watch cartoons. It’s meant to kind of take you back to that time where it’s a simpler world and fun,” Hofer said.
“A lot of people that come in — their moms wouldn’t let them have it — so they come now in their thirties and forties and load up. For people who don’t want to buy a whole box of cereal, they can just come in and get a bowl,” Emmerson said.
“It’s a place to have fun. It’s nothing serious. It’s a place to eat cereal.”
And fun it is — at The Cereal Box, customers can choose from the 150 rotating kinds of cereal that are swapped out seasonally. Some are limited editions like Kellogg’s Unicorn cereal, while some are discontinued completely and others are imported from the UK, South Korea or Portugal. Emmerson and Hofer promise they have sugary frosted flakes to gluten-free and vegan options and everything in between. Keeping up to date on the latest cereal trends and finding old-school favorites isn’t easy.
“They [cereal companies] have a lot of different ones they roll out, so you have to constantly keep on top of cereal blogs to know what’s going on. We have Waffle Crisp and Quisp that are discontinued. You can’t get them anymore. But we tracked them down. They’re not cheap,” Emmerson said.
But don’t worry. Just because the cereal is out of circulation doesn’t mean it’s expired.
“These are the last of what was in production that we can get our hands on. They’re still fresh and edible—not from like the ‘80s and ‘90s,” Hofer said.
In addition to the wide variety of cereals to mix, The Cereal Box also has an incredible selection of milk options that also rotate seasonally. They currently have 17 kinds of milk to pour over your concoction including whole milk, skim milk, vanilla almond milk, coconut milk, lactose-free milk, banana milk and chocolate soymilk among others. They even have peanut butter milk.
Toppings include 20 different flavors of Pop-Tarts (which also rotate out seasonally), marshmallows, gummy bears, peanut butter cups, coconut, dried bananas, walnuts, almonds, syrups, sprinkles, a locally-made scoop of ice cream from Scrumptious and much more. The options are definitely overwhelming if you’ve got a sweet tooth.
If you don’t know what to get, The Cereal Box menu has seven pre-made mix options that include a Cereal Box Special and different themed flavors such as “Unicorn Poop,” which includes Lucky Charms, Trix, Froot Loops, rainbow marshmallows, rainbow sprinkles, whipped cream and strawberry milk for a fun fruity flavor, or the “Cocoa Loco,” which features Cocoa Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, Chocolate Chex, whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, chocolate sprinkles and chocolate milk for a heavenly, chocolaty dream. You get the idea.
Apart from creating your own bowl or buying a pre-made mix, The Cereal Box also serves what they call the “Mega Bowl.”
“We have this huge bowl and you can load it up with cereal. And then you get a quart of milk to put on top of it. It comes with two Pop-Tarts. You can pick them. We’ve only ever sold one of those and the guy couldn’t finish it,” Emmerson said.
All the sugar sure sounds like fun, but what do Emmerson and Hofer think about parents with health concerns?
“That’s always been there. That hasn’t changed. If you say no to cereal now, they’re just going to get it later. You always want that treat. I mean people get Starbucks every morning—all that sugar—it’s not any better,” Emmerson said.
“We’re a treat place. We’re not trying to feed people morning, noon and night and be everything to their entire diet. It’s a treat. Do it in a way that feeds your soul and is meant to be fun,” Hofer said.
The Cereal Box is definitely not designed to be serious. The shop sells collectible toys and has a cafeteria-themed atmosphere filled with art and bright pops of color. They frequently host birthday parties, after-school happy hour specials and welcome makers of the community into their space to celebrate holidays and other fun festivities. It’s all about playtime here. The bowls are even served on cafeteria trays next to vintage milk bottles.
Hofer says the giant wall of cereal boxes behind the counter also adds to the whimsical, vibrant atmosphere.
“There’s an artistic element to it too, and that’s kind of part of the reason why we wanted to have the wall this way because there’s a visual component similar to when you walk through the grocery store and you see all the boxes. It’s art and it generates that excitement. Customers walk through the door and you do see it—they walk in and their jaw drops. They see the colors, the cartoons, the cereal—and you can see them go back in time. It’s super fun,” she said.
It’s pure nostalgia for a lot of customers. Emmerson and Hofer hope to keep it that way. That’s why they try to make the experience as reminiscent of your childhood as possible.
“We say here that it’s always Saturday morning and that’s a huge part of why it’s fun. It’s when you are done with your workweek, your school week and get home. You wake up on a Saturday, get a bowl of cereal and watch cartoons. We want that feeling all day. That’s what we do here. We play cartoons all day and all night long. It’s comforting,” Emmerson said.
At The Cereal Box, the fun never stops—not even after the last spoonful.
The Cereal Box is located at 5709 Olde Wadsworth Blvd., Arvada, CO 80002 and is open from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
All photography by Danielle Webster.