9 Things You Didn't Know About Your Favorite Breakfast
It’s National Cereal Day! And to help you celebrate, we’re going to dish on some totally cool facts about your breakfast food of choice.
Cereal is one of those foods you just can’t help but associate with the good old U.S. of A. Invented in the United States in 1863 by James Caleb Jackson, according to reporting by The New York Times, and then popularized by the Kellogg brothers and beloved at our breakfast tables ever since, cereal is still a staple in most American homes.
But how much do you really know about it? Below, check out nine fun facts.
1. The first cold, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal ever made was first called Granula, as reported by Dana Rubinstein and Hilary Greenbaum in an article titled Who Made That Granola? for The New York Times, and invented by James Caleb Jackson in 1863. This first attempt at cereal was still a little labor-intensive, as it required soaking overnight to make it edible, and it never really caught on with the American public.
2. The first pre-packaged, boxed cereal was called Wheatena and created in New York in 1879 by George H. Hoyt, according to Homestat Farm, the company that eventually bought the Wheatena brand in 2001. Before Hoyt, most cereals (usually wheat- or oatmeal-based) were sold in bulk and scooped out of large barrels for customers to purchase by the pound.
3. Pre-packaged cereals really took off thanks to the Kellogg brothers. John Harvey Kellogg ran the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, which was basically a health retreat for wealthy patrons. Kellogg urged his clientele to stick to a strict vegetarian diet, and so began experimenting with granola (his version of Granula) at breakfast.
4. The Kellogg bros actually invented ready-to-eat cereal flakes by accident, according to the Kellogg’s company history. The story goes that in 1894, John Kellogg and brother William, were called away while cooking some wheat to make a batch of healthy crackers. By the time they got back, the cooked wheat had cooled (and actually went a little stale), but they decided to use it anyway and William ran the grains through a roller, flattening each one into a little flake, and toasting them. They tried the same process again with corn and thus created the now-iconic Cornflakes. They filed a patent application in 1895, and Cornflakes are still a popular breakfast cereal today.
5. General Mills, another major cereal-producing company, got in on the game in 1922 with its own boxed breakfast made of toasted wheat flakes, initially called Washburn’s Gold Medal Whole Wheat Flakes. The name of that cereal was changed to Wheaties in 1925 — and it’s still sold under that name today.
6. That same company, General Mills, says it sold 795 million boxes of cereal in 2016 — that’s almost 770 million pounds! — attesting to cereal’s continued popularity as a breakfast food in the U.S.
7. For the last seven years straight, Honey Nut Cheerios has been ranked the #1 cereal in the U.S.
8. The first box of Cheerios hit store shelves in 1941, but back then, it had a slightly different name, says the cereal’s producer, General Mills. Initially dubbed “Cheerioats!” because of its oat-based recipe, but four years later the name was changed to the now-iconic Cheerios.
9. We love our cereal mascots. One of the most well-known — Lucky the Leprechaun, who has appeared on Lucky Charms boxes since 1964 — was briefly retired in 1975 in favor of “Waldo the Wizard.” Waldo didn’t last long, though. He was the official mascot for less than one year before Lucky made a comeback.