There is no question that cold cereals revolutionized the American breakfast table. No longer did mom have to cook hot cereal, eggs or meat, and kids could independently prepare something for themselves before going off to school. At the turn of the twentieth century, the creation of cereal basically began with two enterprising men who saw the possibilities and took a gamble. And breakfast has never been the same.
In the late 1890s, a somewhat eccentric man named John Harvey Kellogg, conducted a health sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, and had created a bland, tasteless food for his patients with digestive troubles. A few years later, his brother will chose to mass-market the new food at 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 had been a patient in Kellogg’s sanitarium, introduced a substitute for coffee 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 aid”digestive problems.” He created 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; (Sounds 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 began marketing Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, calling them a marvel of food science that was”the first food shot from guns” (oh boy, would they come under fire for that one today, no pun intended);
The 1930s saw The Ralston Purina company introduce an early version of Wheat Chex, calling it Shredded Ralston (seems a little painful);
Shortly Cheerios appeared and could become the best-selling cereal in America, worth roughly $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 market has spun off multiple applications, unlimited possibilities and targeted kids with clever packaging, outrageous names, flavors, colors and options (all loaded with sugar of course).