In Rome, in 496 BC there was a drought. The priests thought if they started worshiping the Greek goddess, Demeter, she might help. They changed her name to Ceres from the Latin “crescere,” meaning “to grow” which is also the root of “create” and “increase.” She became the protector of crops, and the caretakers of her temple became the grain dealers. A new Latin word was coined meaning “of Ceres” – cerealis, which became the word cereal. Come along as we eat cereal!
** Over 70% of the world’s croplands are planted in cereal grains. Those grains provide 53% of humanity’s caloric intake. Wheat occupies 22% of croplands world wide, and provides 20% of calories consumed worldwide.
** It’s been estimated that more than 60% of the population of the world relies on a total of four crops, three of which are grains. Those four crops are: rice, corn, soy and wheat.
** Oatmeal is richer in proteins than whole wheat. Samuel Johnson remarked in the dictionary he wrote that oats are “a grain which is generally given to horses but in Scotland supports the people.” A Scotsman replied, “That is why in England you have such fine horses and in Scotland we have such fine men.”
** John Kellogg ran a health resort in Battle Creek, Michigan in the late 1800s. He advocated a healthy diet, and invented a flaky breakfast cereal made from smashing boiled wheat and corn into thin flat sheets and baking them. He had trouble perfecting the formula until one day when he was called away while the wheat was cooking. When he returned, the wheat was far overcooked, but money was tight and wheat was expensive, so he ran the overcooked wheat through the rollers anyway. The thin crispy flake that resulted was the perfect formula.
** At first he called this cereal Granula, which he later changed to Granola before finally changing the name to Corn Flakes. The cereal was a novel invention and reputedly very healthy, but it didn’t taste very good.
** John Kellogg had a younger brother named Will. Will Kellogg was more interested in making a profit than his brother was. When John left on an extended trip, Will did something that John had forbidden – he added a coating of sugar to the cereal. People liked John’s unsweetened cereal a little, and they loved Will’s sugary cereal. When John returned, he was furious. Will ended up starting his own company which he called Kellogg’s. Will Kellogg’s cereal eventually put John Kellogg’s cereal out of business. The brothers were rivals until their deaths.
** A patient of John Kellogg named Charles W. Post started his own dry cereal company called Post Cereals, selling a rival brand of corn flakes. John Kellogg claimed that Charles Post stole the formula for corn flakes from the safe in his office.
** Charles Post came out with a cereal he called “Elijah’s Manna.” He tried to export it to Britain but they refused to register it, saying that giving such a religious name to a food was sacrilegious. Post changed the name to Post Toasties.
** In 1949 Post Cereal introduced a sugary line of cereals: Sugar Crisps, Krinkles and Corn-Fetti, and the kids went wild. General Mills followed suit with cereals: Trix, Sugar Frosted Flakes and Cocoa Puffs.
** In 1975, a dentist who was alarmed at the steep increase in the number of cavities he was seeing in children went to the supermarket and bought 78 different kinds of cereal. He took them to his lab and measured their sugar content. 1/3 had sugar levels between 10 and 25%. 1/3 contained between 26% and 50% sugar, and the rest of them had sugar levels even higher than 50%. The highest was Super Orange Crisps which was almost 71% sugar! Not surprisingly, those cereal with the highest sugar content were brands most heavily marketed to children during Saturday morning cartoons.
By 1977 a coalition of 12,000 health professionals asked the Federal Trade Commission to ban the advertising of sugary foods on children’s TV shows. The petition was accompanied by a collection of 200 decayed teeth collected and donated by pediatric dentists. In 1979, the typical American child watched more than 20,000 commercials between the ages of 2 and 11, and more than half of those commercials were for cereals, candy, snacks and soft drinks.
As a result, Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes was remained Frosted Flakes; Post changed Super Sugar Crisp into Super Golden Crisp;and Sugar Smacks became Honey Smacks. Although the names changed, the sugar content did not, and nothing changed about the fact that cereals were pitched to children on weekend daytime TV. The cereal industry uses 816 million pounds of sugar per year.
Grape Nuts is one of the few cereals with no added sugar. It has nothing to do with grapes or nuts, being made out of baked wheat and malted barley.
Be sure to eat your Wheaties!