Cereal Killerz: Here's What Happened After Shark Tank

Cereal Killerz founders Chris and Jessica Burns made a scary impression in their appearance during the third episode of Shark Tank's 12th season. The two donned serial killer masks to pitch a novel concept: a cereal bar in which adults could live out their childhood fantasy of choosing from among 130 plus cereal brands, a variety of dairy and non-dairy pairing options, and myriad ingredient combos featuring candy, milkshakes, fresh fruit, sundaes, and more. The family-friendly idea was inspired by the husband and wife team's daughter, who has Down syndrome.

The couple was seeking a $125,000 investment for 10% of their business, which already included one open location at a mall-based food court in Henderson, Nevada, just outside of Las Vegas, and plans for additional expansion. The Burns' pitch was bolstered by the delicious samples they served the sharks but complicated by the realities of life in 2020 — the episode premiered on October 20, 2020 — when the coronavirus pandemic was in full effect.

In fact, as the Burns' noted during their pitch, their food court restaurant had just started serving again following a three-month-long forced closure of the Galleria at Sunset, where it was located. As a consequence, they were operating in the red upon reopening and were losing approximately $8,000 per month.

What happened to Cereal Killerz on Shark Tank?

Cereal lovers were probably all in on the pitch from the start, but the sharks — Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Daymond John, Kevin O'Leary, and Robert Herjavec on this episode — weren't so enthusiastic. Greiner was the first to pass, claiming a conflict of interest with an oatmeal breakfast bar she was involved with. But she was highly complimentary of the Burns themselves, noting, "Your story is very moving because you have just come from remarkable odds. If I were betting on entrepreneurs, I would bet on you 100%."

Herjavec and O'Leary were the next two sharks to pass, with the latter noting that until the couple had proof of concept with a profitable location, he just couldn't see it as a good investment. Cuban also said no, and cautioned the couple not to burn through their life savings (estimated at $50,000). In fact, he urged them to hire an accountant before thinking about expansion.

FUBU founder John found their pitch touching, inspiring, and likely a little flattering — particularly after Chris Burns showed off an old FUBU shirt — but ended up being the fifth shark to pass on the opportunity to invest in the fledgling company. Thus, the Burns' concluded their Shark Tank pitch without securing the deal they sought.

Is Cereal Killerz still open?

The sharks may not have been enthusiastic about Cereal Killerz, but the public has absolutely embraced the cereal bar concept, and yes, the company is still in business. However, its original location at the Galleria at Sunset in Henderson, Nevada, is no longer open. That closure was announced before Chris and Jessica Burns' appearance on Shark Tank was even aired.

Bigger things were yet to come for Cereal Killerz, however, including becoming something of a social media sensation. But before that happened, the company opened the first of what would become the five current Cereal Killerz Kitchens — three in the Las Vegas area and one each in Arizona and Utah.

That location, in the Centennial Hills neighborhood of Las Vegas, had already opened by the time the original location closed in 2020, and it was an immediate success, according to Chris Burns on The Cereal Killerz Kitchen Podcast. Yes, there's a podcast, too. The success of the Centennial Hills location helped to make up for the disappointing result on Shark Tank and paved the way for the company's subsequent rapid expansion.

What has happened to Cereal Killerz since Shark Tank?

By 2021, less than a year after the Shark Tank failure, there were Cereal Killerz Kitchens open in Centennial Hills, at Las Vegas' Miracle Mile Shop, in Henderson (the Las Vegas suburb that hosted their original location), and in Goodyear, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. A fifth location, in Salt Lake City, Utah, would open in 2023.

The company not only expanded into new cereal bar locations, but it also took social media by storm. Cereal Killerz Kitchen currently has one million followers on TikTok, and 141,000 on Instagram, robust numbers that were boosted immeasurably by the company's creative #cerealchallenge videos. The Cereal Challenge requires participants to finish a massive bowl of cereal consisting of samples from 130 varieties in one hour. Those bold enough to try are given one gallon of milk to pair with their cereal. Winners get a $50 gift certificate. According to Chris Burns' estimate, this brilliant marketing gimmick has resulted in over 100,000,000 views on social media.

Marketing efforts have also been helped by the Cereal Killerz Kitchen YouTube channel — including videos in the Kill It or Drill It web series — and by branded merchandise like T-shirts. The company has also continued to expand menu offerings, boasting not only a build-your-own-cereal-box feature but iced coffees and even a unique Lebron James-themed taco ("The LeTaco James"), with the taco made from folded-over waffles and filled with ice cream and other treats.

What's next for Cereal Killerz?

In the first Cereal Killerz Kitchen Podcast episode, posted in August 2022, host and Cereal Killerz Kitchen co-founder Chris Burns laid out a series of plans for the company. In addition to announcing a new location would open in Salt Lake City, Utah — it premiered in May 2023 — he announced plans were also in the works for one in Silver Spring, Maryland. That would be the first East Coast location for Cereal Killerz, which has thus far been exclusively a West Coast phenomenon.

According to Burns, the Maryland location would probably be the last Cereal Killerz Kitchen, at least in the current configuration. He believes the brand's customers want more convenience, and thus in the future, he foresees the company moving into drive-thru-only locations. He mentioned Dutch Bros. Coffee, a drive-thru coffee chain, as a model for future expansion. The iconic wall of cereal, a popular feature at its in-store locations, would be instead showcased on the outside of drive-thru locations, Burns speculated. Other potential plans for Cereal Killerz include an app, and potential collaboration with other restaurant chains. Burns downplayed the possibility of franchising, at least at this point, although the company does have a franchise application link on its website.

Whatever happens in the future, one thing is sure. The Shark Tank sharks were all wrong about Cereal Killerz. The pandemic dealt the company a blow, but its founders have persevered and prospered.