No longer did mom need to cook hot cereal, eggs or meat, and kids could independently prepare something for themselves before heading off to school. And breakfast hasn’t been the same.
In the late 1890s, a rather 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 troubles. A few 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 to the masses, and a star was born.
Around the same time, C. W. Post, who had been a patient in Kellogg’s sanitarium, introduced a substitute for java called 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 not 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 produced a breakfast cereal that was dried and divided into shapes so tough they needed to be soaked in milk overnight, which he predicted granula (the father of granola and graham crackers).
Capitalizing on that original idea, 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 a lot 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 forced rice grains to explode and started marketing Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, calling them a marvel of food science which was”the first food taken from guns” (oh boy, would they come under fire for this one today, no pun intended);
1920s Wheaties has been introduced and cleverly targeted athletes as they proclaimed to be the”Breakfast of Champions;”
The 1930s saw The Ralston Purina firm introduce an early version of Wheat Chex, calling it Shredded Ralston (seems a little painful);
Shortly Cheerios appeared and would become the best-selling cereal in America, worth about $1 billion in sales in 2015.
Nobody can dispute the convenience and flexibility 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, Bat Poop, colors and options (all loaded with sugar of course).