There’s absolutely not any 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.
In 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 issues. A couple of years later, his brother Will decided to mass-market the new food at his new firm, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, adding a bit of sugar to 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 an alternative to coffee called Postum, followed by Grape-Nuts (that have nothing 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 forty years earlier had experimented with graham flour, marketing it to help”digestive issues.” He created a breakfast cereal that was dried and broken into shapes so tough they needed to be soaked in milk overnight, which he predicted granula (the father of granola and graham crackers).
Fast forward and other companies were sitting up and taking notice. The Quaker Oats Company, obtained a method which forced rice grains to burst and started 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 this one today, no pun intended);
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.
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 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?