No longer did mom have to cook hot cereal, eggs or meat, and kids could independently prepare something for themselves before heading off to college. At the turn of the twentieth century, the creation of cereal basically started with two enterprising men who saw the possibilities and took a gamble. And breakfast has never been the same.
From the late 1890s, a rather eccentric man named John Harvey Kellogg, ran a health sanitarium at Battle Creek, Michigan, and had created a bland, tasteless food for his patients with digestive troubles. A few years after, his brother Will chose to kickstart the new food at his new firm, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, adding a bit of sugar into the flakes recipe making it more palatable to the masses, and a star was born.
Around the same time, C. W. Post, who had been a patient at Kellogg’s sanitarium, introduced a substitute for java named Postum, followed by Grape-Nuts (which 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 forty years earlier had experimented with graham flour, marketing it to aid”digestive issues.” He produced a breakfast cereal which was dried and broken into shapes so hard they had 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 people with 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 compelled rice grains to burst and began marketing Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat, calling them a marvel of food science that was”the first food taken from guns” (oh boy, would they come under fire for this one today, no pun intended);
The 1930s saw The Ralston Purina firm introduce an early version of Wheat Chex, calling it Shredded Ralston (seems somewhat painful);
Shortly Cheerios appeared and would become the best-selling cereal in America, worth about $1 billion in sales in 2015.
No one can dispute the convenience and versatility of dry packaged cereal. In the past 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). What could be more American than corn flakes?