Cereals With Peculiar Backstories

In America and most western countries, cereals are the go-to option for breakfast. Why? Because there’s nothing quite like starting your morning with some crunchy Rice Krispies or delicious Honey Bunches of Oats. Despite the collective love for cereal, most people aren’t really familiar with their origins—all they know is that they’re a delicious way to get the day started. This article will help you brush up on the peculiar backstories of your favorite cereals.

1. Wheaties

Wheaties is a delicious accident that was discovered by a clinician at a sanitarium who spilled some wheat gruel on a stove top while cooking. The mixture then dried into flakes which quickly drew the attention of the Washburn Crosby Company who used a similar preparation process to create the cereal. After 14 grueling attempts with 36 varieties of wheat, the company finally succeeded in finding the perfect combination of wheat, malt syrup, sugar and salt. The end product was dubbed “Washburn’s Gold Medal Wheat Flakes” then shortened to just “Wheaties.”

2. Chex

Chex was initially a pet food company owned by a man named William Danforth, who later partnered up with a self-help author named Webster Edgerly. The latter was looking forward to promoting the consumption of whole grains as part of the beliefs of his strict and almost cult-like socialist movement. Together, the pair formed the Ralston Purina company and started producing small, bite-sized squares of shredded wheat known back then as Shredded Ralston, then Chex in 1950. The company split shortly after with Chex being sold to General Mills.

3. Corn Flakes

Shortly after the introduction of granola, John Harvey Kellogg, a physician and practicing Seventh Day Adventist who worked at a sanitarium decided to experiment with a new form of cereal that would suppress his patients’ “unclean” urges. Kellog believed that the cause of their suffering was due to an overconsumption of meat which he considered to be an irritant food. So one day, while boiling wheat to make bread, Kellogs accidentally left it out for too long but put it through the rolling process anyways and was surprised at the flakes it created. Then he toasted them, and well, the rest is history!

4. Cap’n Crunch

During the 60s, many cereal companies aimed their best-selling, high sugar content cereals marketing at children which we now know is extremely unhealthy. Quakers, known for their oats and porridges, decided to hop the train and create their own cereal: small, yellow and sweet squares that remained crunchy in the milk. The recipe was perfected by flavorist Pamela Low, who was inspired by a recipe her grandmother used to make for her as a child, a brown sugar and butter sauce served over rice. She then modified the recipe and used it as the cereal’s coating. As for their mascot, this was the work of animator Jay Ward who drew up the seafaring lad.

5. Lucky Charms

In 1964, General Mills, manufacturer of Cheerios and Wheaties, decided to combine their two best-selling products at the time. Product developer John Holahan decided to chop up pieces of marshmallow circus peanuts and mix them in Cheerios. The executives loved the idea but not so much the children, their target audience. So they went back to the drawing board and reshaped the Cheerios into clovers, arrowheads, bells, crosses and fish and coated them in sugar as well. The second time was definitely the charm because Lucky Charms became an instant hit with the public.


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