There’s absolutely no question that cold cereals revolutionized the American breakfast table. No longer did mom need to cook hot cereal, eggs or meat, and children could independently prepare something for themselves before going off to college. And breakfast hasn’t been the same.
From the late 1890s, a somewhat eccentric man named John Harvey Kellogg, ran a health sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, and had established a bland, tasteless food for his patients with digestive issues. A couple of years after, his brother Will decided to mass-market the new food in his new company, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, including a little sugar into the flakes recipe which makes it more palatable for the masses, and a star was born.
Around the same time, C. W. Post, who was a patient at Kellogg’s sanitarium, introduced a substitute for java named Postum, followed by Grape-Nuts (that don’t have anything to do with either grapes or nuts) and his version of Kellogg’s corn flakes, naming them Post Toasties, and America’s breakfasts were never the same.
Both men could thank an enterprising gentleman by the name of Sylvester Graham, who twenty years before had experimented with graham flour, marketing it to help”digestive issues.” He created a breakfast cereal which was dried and broken into shapes so tough they had to be soaked in milk overnight, which he predicted granula (the father of granola and graham crackers).
Capitalizing on that original concept, in 1898 the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) began producing graham crackers based on the experiments of Sylvester Graham, first promoting them as a”digestive” cracker for those who have stomach problems; (Seems plenty of people had digestive problems even back then.)
Fast forward and other businesses were sitting up and taking notice. The Quaker Oats Company, obtained a method which compelled rice grains to explode and started marketing Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, calling them a marvel of food science which was”the first food shot from guns” (oh boy, would they come under fire for this one now, no pun intended);
1920s Wheaties was introduced and targeted athletes as they proclaimed to be the”Breakfast of Champions;”
The 1930s saw The Ralston Purina company introduce an early version of Wheat Chex, calling it Shredded Ralston (seems somewhat painful);
Soon Cheerios appeared and could become the best-selling cereal in the usa, worth roughly $1 billion in sales in 2015.
No one can dispute the convenience and versatility of dry packed cereal. In the last fifty years, this multi-billion dollar industry has spun off multiple uses, unlimited possibilities and targeted children with clever packaging, outrageous names, flavors, colors and options (all loaded with sugar of course).