When Were Breakfast Cereals First Used?
Cereals, of course, in the general sense, including wheat, rice, maize (known as corn in Canada and the United States), rye, oats and barley were among the earliest plants grown by man. But packaged or processed cereals are a modern development.
Breakfast cereals owe their origin to the vegetarians of the last century and health fanatics who believed they could save souls by preaching the virtues of a non-meat diet.
Granula, which was the beginning of Grape-Nuts, was launched in 1863 by a man called James C. Jackson, of Danville, New York. Henry D. Perkey brought out Shredded Wheat in 1893 and Puffed Wheat was developed by Alexander Anderson in 1902.
The religious sect, the Seventh Day Adventists, made Battle Creek, Michigan, the cereal headquarters of the world when the sect formed the Western Health Reform Institute at Battle Creek in 1866, later called the Battle Creek Sanatorium.
John Harvey Kellogg, who was a doctor and a writer, took over control of the Sanatorium in 1876 and his advocacy of cereals helped to develop what was to become a vast new food industry. His brother, W.K. Kellogg, started a cereal producing company in 1906.
C.W. Post was another cereal pioneer and his Postum Cereal Company formed in 1897 later developed into General Foods Corporation. The basic idea behind packaged cereals has remained largely unchanged.
Still, cereal kept its health food reputation thanks to a constant barrage of advertising. Cereal manufacturers like C.W. Post claimed that cereal cured everything up to malaria and appendicitis. The proclamations on today’s cereal boxes that they are “A good source of Vitamin D!” date back to Americans’ obsession with vitamins in the 1920s.
To appeal to children, cereal companies pioneered the use of cartoon mascots. Characters like Tony the Tiger (Frosted Flakes) and Snap, Crackle, and Pop (Rice Krispies) first appeared in the 1930s.
Advertising was the key to the cereal business. Whether they involved cartoon characters or wacky health claims, the important thing was to establish a brand for each cereal.
“The sunshine that makes a business plant grow,” C.W. Post said, as he embarked on a career that would earn him a net worth (in 2016 dollars) of $800 million, “is advertising.” “The Most Important Meal of the Day”