As adults, we recognize cereal as one of the easiest hanger foods to prepare. However, as kids, cereal boxes contained prizes, sugar highs and were adorned with the faces of our favorite athletes, superheroes and childhood idols.
Thus, let’s recognize the importance of National Cereal Day, one of those obscure holidays you rarely remember. As March 7th is coming up, we’re going to take a moment to look back at where this popular breakfast food came from.
From the back of a small shop in Ohio in 1854, German immigrant Ferdinand Schumacher set up a device to hand grind oats and trademarked the German Mills American Oatmeal Company.
This simple seed sparked a flame that we as Americans experience to the tune of 160 bowls of cereal on average per year. Each. Schumacher went on to adopt the Quaker as the official symbol of his company, finalizing what now sits in your cupboard as Quaker Oatmeal.
The first breakfast cereal in the United States officially was Granula, invented in 1863 by the owner of a mental health facility. James Caleb Jackson’s invention never took off, because the bran was so tough it had to be soaked overnight to be even considered edible.
Almost 30 years later, the breakfast mantle was picked up by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, who through a combination of religious and health improvement beliefs invented the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in 1895.
Believing that flavor was licentious, and masturbation was a sin, Dr. Kellogg designed his cornflakes to taste bland while being an easy and reasonably healthy meal.
Side note, he also began the practice of circumcising all newborns regardless of faith in the United States, a practice which continues after over a century.
After the cornflakes exploded in popularity, the good doctor sold the business to his brother, who formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company.
In an unrelated area of Michigan in 1898, Charles W. Post completed work on his breakfast cereal offering, Grape Nuts, followed on its heels by Post Toasties, a competing brand of cornflakes.
Now the cereal market was off to the races, and it's been a race to nowhere ever since. With such offerings as Fuego Cinnamon Toast Crunch, several versions of Cap’n Crunch to include holiday specials and Oops, All Berries, as well as promotion specific cereals like the Nintendo promotion from the 1980’s, our crunchy milk filled obsession is here to stay.
Now that you know some cereal history, maybe you’ll be slower to judge that recently single 20-somethings man in a bathrobe, with 15 boxes of Frosted Flakes in his cart. They really are great, afterall.