National Cereal Day – Celebrated Annually on March 7
Strange that the invention of breakfast cereal was founded on the fact that the American diet of the mid 1800’s was a poor one packed with protein, booze and caffeine. Or maybe it’s not so strange. After all, cereal was considered a remedy – a sort of 19th-century health or wonder food for the ailing masses.
So if you’re raising a milk-sopped spoonful of oats or bran or wheat today, give a little nod to
National Cereal Day, which honors this classic morning meal and midnight snack on March 7.
Some Cereal History
Americans at the time of the Civil War were increasingly plagued with gastrointestinal issues due to their unhealthy, meat-based diet. Reformers of the 1860s viewed too much meat consumption as unwholesome, both physically and spiritually. It was believed by some that a high-protein diet contributed to lust and sloth and that constipation and other maladies of the gastrointestinal tract were God’s punishment for too much pork and beef.
But before cereal took on loads of sugar, cartoon characters as marketing mascots and high profit margins of today, it was a food product of quite a different animal. Cereal back then was quite literally hard to swallow. Made of dense bran nuggets the cereal was so hard it had to be soaked overnight to make digestion not so taxing. Its taste was pretty bland, too.The Kellogg Brothers
Bran nuggets’ inventor Dr. James Caleb Jackson operated a sanitarium, a health resort of sorts, in which patrons would come to convalesce, improve their health or enjoy the restorative spa treatments available. One of the patrons would go on to form the Seventh Day Adventist religion. One of the members of her new church was John Kellogg, a skilled surgeon whose dedication to healthy food for his patients led to the creation of granola.
With the help of his brother, Will Kellogg, the pair would continue to invent healthy, meatless breakfast foods until inadvertently concocting a process that allowed wheat to flake. Two years later corn flakes were formulated and they became an immediate success.
Charles William Post
Charles William Post would get in on the act while recuperating from his second nervous breakdown in 1893. He just so happened to be at the same sanitarium that the Kellogg brothers attended. His visit there inspired him to open his own spa and to further his interest in coffee products and breakfast foods. By 1897, he was selling what is today known as Grape-nuts and his own brand of corn flakes otherwise known as Post Toasties.Sweetened Cereal
By 1939, thanks to sugar and marketing savvy, cereal as a health food started to change. That’s when the first sweetened cereal, Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnie appeared in grocery stores, which would set the trend for a sweetened product that appealed to children. Radio and TV ads also advanced the popularity of cereal with cartoon characters appearing on the box and the box appearing or being mentioned in cartoons and stories.
Cap’n Crunch’s full name is Horatio Magellan Crunch. He was born on Crunch Island in the Sea of Milk. In 2013, a food blogger noticed the Cap’n’s uniform only sported three stripes instead of four. This would make him a Navy Commander, a step down from a true Captain. When word got out, Cap’n Crunch declared on Twitter, “Of course I’m a Cap’n! It’s the Crunch—not the clothes—that make a man.”
Kix cereal issued its atomic-energy inspired Lone Ranger ring in 1947. The ring actually contained trace amounts of radioactive polonium which glowed. Sadly, the material inside the rings had a short shelf life and none in existence work today.
Of the more than 314 million people in the U.S., 49 per cent start their day with a bowl of cereal.
Astronauts from Apollo 11 boosted their brain power while in space with a cereal breakfast. The cereal was mixed with fruit and pressed into cubes since the lack of gravity kept the astronauts from pouring it into a bowl with milk.
There are 2.7 billion boxes — enough to wrap around the earth thirteen times — of cereal sold every year.