The Early Years of American Ready to Eat Breakfast Cereal: The Breakfast Cereal Revolution Until 1930


Before the days of Corn Flakes, Elijah's Manna, Shredded Wheat, and Grape Nuts, there was Granula. Invented in 1863 by Dr. James Caleb Jackson, Granula was the very first ready to eat breakfast cereal. Jackson was influenced by the teachings of Sylvester Graham, perhaps the very first health activist in the United States who advocated a completely raw vegetarian diet, claiming it was the way that God had intended for people to live and was thus beneficial to one's health[1].  Graham advocated against the consumption of such things like spices, alcohol, and caffeine, and advocated heavily for a return to the consumption of home made bread made from unbolted(unsifted and unprocessed) flour[2].  Inventions such as graham flour and the graham cracker were not invented by Graham, but were invented by people influenced by his teachings.
       Jackson ran a spa in Danville, Connecticut where people could come to his facility to treat their ailments with nontraditional medicine[3].  A book published by Jackson in 1868, titled How to Treat the Sick Without Medicine outlined his methods for treating his patients, which included a vegetarian diet based on whole grain.  His methods, which deviated significantly from those of the time, proved immensely attractive to those looking for a less painful way to cure what ailed them(medical procedures of the time including bleeding a person)[4].  When Jackson invented Granula, he had been experimenting with new recipes including graham flour.  The cereal was manufactured by mixing graham flour with water, baking the dough into a brick, breaking the brick into chunks, and then baking the chunks for a second time.  The cereal was so hard that even attempting to eat it required soaking in milk or water for at least 20 minutes, and preferably overnight.  Jackson then began to sell his creation for 10 times the cost of normal flour[5].  Nonetheless, even with the soaking time required, Granula was easier to prepare than other cereal type foods such as porridge, since it required no reheating or cooking, and Granula was successful and sold enough to make Jackson a profit and also provide a starting point for a breakfast revolution.  
[1] Bruce, Cerealizing America, 4-5
[2] Carroll, Three Squares, 141-142
[3] Ibid, 142
[4] Bruce, Cerealizing America, 5
[5] Carroll, Three Squares, 143

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