This page is referenced by:
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. 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. 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. 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). 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. 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.
There's a Reason- Breakfast Cereal and its Non-Breakfast Implications
The breakfast cereal revolution was not a self contained event. The advent and rush of breakfast cereals to the market had far reaching implications for the rest of American food and industry. The first was the way that breakfast cereal was sold- its packaging. Prior to the breakfast cereal revolution, food was sold unpackaged and by weight. An individual would enter the store, ask for a certain amount of an item, and the shopkeeper would weigh out the amount. Foods sold like this were open and exposed to the air and contamination. Insects, mold, and even the shopkeeper could contaminate the food, making it not only unsafe but unpleasant to eat. Exposure to the air also meant that foods meant to stay dry and crisp went soggy and stale very quickly. The problem was solved by packaging the food items in their own individual containers. James Caleb Jackson's Granula had it's own packaging and came in a tin, but the practice did not come into its own until Henry Crowell and his contemporaries began to sell their cereal. Henry Crowell, the man behind Quaker Oats, sold his oats in round cardboard packages, and both Post and Kellogg's companies sold their cereal in cardboard boxes- Kellogg's called theirs "wax-tite" and featured it in their advertising campaigns. The sale of cereal in packages came at a time when food purity was a high priority of the American public, and the packaging of the foods in boxes that kept them safe from outside contamination proved to be a boon not only for breakfast cereal, but for the food industry as a whole.
Breakfast cereal also heralded a revolution in marketing. The individual packaging that cereal was sold in provided a free space for advertising and company logos. Kellogg's boxes featured W.K. Kellogg's signature. Quaker Oat containers featured a picture of a generic Quaker man. Elijah's Manna, the cereal manufactured by Post that would become Post Toasties, originally featured a picture of the biblical Elijah being fed by a raven. Breakfast marketing campaigns also made use of premiums, items that customers could receive from the company for purchasing their products. By far the most popular of these items was the "Funny Jungleland Moving Picture Booklet", a booklet aimed at children that featured pictures of animals cut up into pieces that the children could move around and recombine to their heart's content. Customers could receive the booklet after purchasing two boxes of corn flakes, and Kellogg’s gave away over 40 million of them between 1909 and 1933.
While Kellogg's was certainly successful in their marketing attempts, the true master of breakfast cereal advertising (and even the grandfather of American advertising as a whole) was C.W. Post. Prior to Post's advertising revolution, advertising was a relatively frowned upon practice. As the book Cerealizing America: The Unsweetened Story of American Breakfast Cereal states, "In the late nineteenth century, respectable men of finance viewed advertising as little more than legalized gambling.'." The reputation of advertising was that it unfairly manipulated the public into buying products based on potentially dishonest terms. Post, however, had no such qualms and began to relentlessly advertise in papers and other publications. Post's advertisements, which bought him wild success, opened the floodgates for a myriad of other companies to advertise their products and begin reaping the benefits. Post's advertisements also excelled in convincing potential buyers that they had illnesses and ailments they knew nothing of, for which his products were the cure. Post invented ailments such as "brain fag", "coffee heart", and "coffee neuralgia". His ads for Postum demonized coffee, calling it poisonous and hazardous to one's health, and others grouped it along with truly hazardous substances such as cocaine and morphine. Postum advertisements also claimed that the lack of caffeine would aid in sleep for the consumer.
Breakfast cereal helped revolutionized the regulation of advertising as quickly as it revolutionized advertising itself. Post had been advertising Grape Nuts as being more nutritious than another known food. First, the advertisements claimed that the body derived more nourishment from Grape Nuts than from 10 times as much of any other type of food. In 1904, several states published studies on Grape Nuts, showing it to be about as nutritious as oatmeal. Post quickly changed his advertisements, claiming instead that the body derived more nutrition from Grape Nuts than from an equal amount of any other food. With the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, however, required truthful labeling of foods and Grape Nuts advertisements ceased such claims, especially after Post was sued for libel by Collier’s Weekly.
The wildly successful grain based breakfast cereals also had an effect on another aspect of American food culture: meat production. The success of Corn Flakes and Grape Nuts- corn and wheat based cereals, respectively- meant an increased demand for the grains. Conversely, since Americans were switching en masse to ready to eat cereal for breakfast from heavier meat based breakfasts, demand for meat declined. Farmers began to switch from growing cows, pigs, and sheep to wheat and corn. The decline was so sharp that a New York Times article published July 25, 1909 titled "How the Breakfast Foods are Absorbing the Cattle Ranges of the West" predicted that the American working class would have to give up meat entirely since low supply made it scarce and high demand made it expensive. Breakfast cereal also heralded an increased demand for milk, helping lead to better sterilization and increased consumption of the liquid.