Cereals are a go-to breakfast meal for anyone, but have you ever wondered how they came about or what are the oldest that have ever existed?
Some of the oldest foods include meat soup, pancakes, bread, and tamales, among others. It wasn’t until the 19th century that cereals became a thing. Before then, hot cereals or porridge like grits and polenta were already common.
Subsequently, other individuals began to invent cold cereals as a healthy and easy-to-prepare cereal alternative to hot cereals. Today, we have a wide range of breakfast cereals in stores around us.
But it wasn’t always like that. Let’s go back in time to see those cereals that existed ages ago, some of which have gone into extinction, and those that have stood the test of time.
Granula was invented by Dr. James Caleb Jackson in 1863 making it the oldest cold breakfast cereal ever made. He was a health reformer who ran his health spa in upstate New York.
Dr. James Jackson had a belief that the major cause of the illness was the stomach, so he began experimenting with cold cereal to consolidate his mineral-spring treatments.
He made granula by rolling Graham flour and baking the dough into dried brittle cakes which he further crumbled and baked again into smaller pieces.
However, granula didn’t get much acceptance from people because it wasn’t edible until soaked in milk for long hours or over the night. Invariably it couldn’t stand the test of time.
Wheatena is an all-natural, fiber-rich, toasted whole wheat cereal that started in a small bakery on Mulberry Street in New York. The bakery began roasting, grinding whole wheat, and selling in boxed packages in 1879.
Before wheatena, cereals were stored in large barrels and scooped out by the pound for customers in grocery stores. George Hoyt, the brain behind wheetena was concerned about hygiene and this led to packaging his whole wheat cereal in boxes which was a huge success.
Although wheatena is not a very popular cereal in the US, it is still very much available and is a much healthier hot cereal than many others. The cereal is currently a product of Homestat Farm, a subsidiary of Camden Holdings.
In 1881, Dr. Harvey Kellogg, who owned a sanitarium in Michigan, heard of granula and was inspired by it. He decided to combine oat, wheat, and cornmeal and used a better rolling process to make it more pleasant to eat than granula.
Kellogg named his product granula, but this made Dr. Jackson furious and file for copyright infringement. As a result, Kellogg had to switch to granola, which is only different to granula with an “o” instead of “u”.
Interestingly, Kellogg’s granola was a huge success and by 1899, it was already selling two tons a week. Kellogg’s granola is still very much popular today with different varieties.
4. Pettijohn’s breakfast food
Although Pettijohn was short-lived it was one of the earliest wheat cereals ever. The American Cereal Co. founded the cereal in 1889 in Chicago, Illinois but later sold it to The Quaker Oats Company in 1893.
It was a product of white wheat with its bran removed. Pettijohn was advertised as a healthy cereal option with high fiber, nutrients, and no sugar.
5. Shredded wheat
Founded by Henry Perky in 1890, shredded wheat has been around for over a century. In 1892, Perky sold his shredded wheat recipe to a vegetarian restaurant and went on to start The Cereal Machine Company.
In 1893, the cereal gained wide recognition after its national debut at the Chicago World Columbian Exposition.
Although there is a variety of shredded wheat brands out there, the original recipe has transitioned from many hands, and it’s currently the property of Post Consumer Brands after acquiring it from Nabisco in 1993.
6. Granose flakes
Seeing the success of Granola, Dr. John Kellogg and his brother William Kellogg kept on experimenting to come up with a perfect cereal that would become the people’s favorite.
In 1895, they accidentally hit a new product when they mistakenly left a batch of wheat berries soaked overnight. Upon discovering the mistake, they decided to run them through the rollers to see the end product.
The result was a thin sheet of dough and large flakes which were baked and found to be delicious. However, it wasn’t exactly the answer they were looking for, and they soon discarded granose flakes when they eventually discovered corn flakes.
Created in 1897 by C. W. Post in Michigan, USA, Grape-nut cereal was inspired by a visit to the Kellogg Battle Creek Sanitarium. He admired Kellogg’s success and decided to go visit him to learn a thing or two about their cereal recipe.
After the visit, he began working and was able to create his own cereal. It’s a combination of wheat and barley flour baked into flat sheets and ground in coffee grinders to produce kernels that resemble grape seeds.
In 1897, Pillsbury decided to launch a cereal product with the goal of capturing the attention of the market. They made the cereal, vitos from wheat, and drove their marketing claiming that people could eat the cereal in different ways.
However, vitos couldn’t garner much interest despite running an amateur recipe competition. So, the product didn’t last so long in the market before its extinction.
9. Kellogg’s corn flakes
Corn flakes are one of the most popular breakfast cereals today and definitely one of the most successful. Bith Williams and John Kellogg were already experts in the field with the success of Granola.
But they never stopped trying out different processes and experimenting to get a perfect cereal that everyone would love. In 1898, they hit a goldmine which they named corn flakes.
Kellogg’s corn flakes are light, crispy, and tasty, making it the first cereal brand to achieve such. And it is ready to eat immediately. This made it a widely accepted breakfast meal even to this day.
Force is the first cereal made in the 20th century. It was an idea initiated by the Force Food company led by Edward Ellsworth. Force became the second wheat cereal that people loved after shredded wheat.
It however went off the map in the US but gain acceptance in Britain. Thanks to their famous advert with a mascot named Sunny Jim, Force became a renowned cereal among the British people.
After transitioning from several hands, the product finally had its last round of sales in 2013 by Nestle PLC.
When was cereal invented?
The first cereal was invented in 1863.
Who invented cereal with milk?
Dr. James Caleb Jackson was the first man to invent cereal that needed soaking in milk overnight.
What was the first sugar cereal?
The first pre-sweetened breakfast cereal was Ranger joe which was sugar-coated puffed wheat or rice.
What was the first cereal made by Kellogg?
The first cereal Kellogg made was Granola.
As you can see, cereals have a long history that can date back to the 19th century. In fact, the likes of grits originated from Southern America as far back as the 16th century.
The first cereal, granula, was a far cry from what we have today. It wasn’t palatable to eat and its preparation was just too stressful that most people shoved it aside.
Thankfully, many other people like Kellogg and Henry Perky picked interest early enough and continued to experiment with cereals that taste better and cook in minutes. Today, cereals have become a staple food for many, particularly as a breakfast meal.
Finally, find out if cereals make you fat in this article.
I hope this article helped. Thanks for reading.