Breakfast Cereal (or Cereal)
Breakfast cereals are dried grain foods taken in the morning. Granola, corn flakes, puffed rice, and wheat flakes all fall under this category as breakfast cereal.
In the 16th century, North American Indians discovered a way of making grits. According to the Macmillan Dictionary, grits is “a food made from corn that has been crushed and boiled in water, often eaten for breakfast, especially in the southern U.S.”. Owing to this similarity between cereal and grits, cereal is considered to be an American invention.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that food reformers began to modify grits into the breakfast cereal that we are now familiar with. It may come as a surprise that cereal, which is widely known for its high sugar content, was originally created for health and nutritional purposes. In 1863, James Caleb Jackson, who was in-charge of a medical sanitarium in New York, wanted his patients to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. He began experimenting by using graham flour dough to create the first granola. Jackson’s creation turned out to be too hard and needed to be soaked in milk. He named this invention, granula.
Then along came John Harvey Kellogg, who was also a health activist and nutritionist. Kellogg was a surgeon running a sanitarium in Michigan and like Jackson, he recognised the need for his patients to eat healthy and nutritional food. Kellogg told his patients to “eat what the monkeys eat – simple food and not too much of it”. He re-created Jackson’s granula and, after being sued by Jackson, re-named it granola.
Kellogg’s relationship with cereal didn’t end here. In 1894, with his younger brother, Will Keith Kellogg, they created flaked cereal, which is what we now know as corn flakes.
In 1904, Charles William Post created his version of corn flakes, originally known as Elijah’s Manna. It featured the Prophet Elijah on the box. Alongside this prophet was a raven, who was seen as either feeding flakes from Elijah’s hand or placing flakes of cereal in his hands.
The use of Prophet Elijah raised criticism from religious groups. Post initially remained resolute in having the prophet on its box until sales of his cereal started to decline. In 1908, Post then renamed it as Post Toasties. In 1934, Post Toasties featured a new star – Mickey Mouse. The cereal came with special cut-outs of the cartoon character at the back of its box.
In the 1910s, The Quaker Oats Company discovered a method of making rice grains that explode under pressure. This became what we now know as Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat. It was a breakthrough in food science and they are called the first “food shot from guns” and “the eighth wonder of the world”.
Unlike granola, Wheaties was actually invented by accident. A health clinician working for Washburn Crosby Company (later known as General Mills) spilled a wheat bran gruel onto a hot stove which dried into flakes. In 1924, after several experiments on this accidental spill, the company introduced the improved version into the market.
Wheaties aimed to be associated with sports. In 1933, it adopted the sports slogan, “Breakfast of Champions“. The brand had several famous athletes, such as Mohammad Ali , Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner featured on their cereal boxes.
In 1935 Wheat Chex, which came before the rice version – Chex Mix – was invented by the Ralston Purina Company, to meet the needs of followers of Ralstonism. Ralstonism was a strict religious movement that believed not just in eating healthy, but also in the ability to control the minds of others. Wheat Chex was, therefore, called Shredded Ralston.
Sometimes, getting up on the wrong side of the bed might turn out to be the genesis of a creative business idea. The idea of a cereal cafe came to twin brothers, Alan and Gary Keery, when they were having a hangover one morning, and all that they craved for was a bowl of breakfast cereal. In 2014, they then set up Cereal Killer Cafe , making it the first cereal cafe in the U.K. The cafe prides itself for having over 100 varieties of cereals, which are imported from countries such as America, France, Spain and Israel.
While the Keerys had their fair share of challenges in running their business, particularly on the issue of overpricing, by 2017, the twins had expanded their business to Camden, Birmingham, and Kuwait.
Description: Usually eaten as the first meal of the day with milk, yogurt or fruit.
Ingredients: Its main ingredients are dried grains such as corn, rice, oats, and wheat. Sugar, and other flavourings depending on the type of cereal.