Recently, I stopped by the Wetzel Chronicle office and while there I asked Editor Amy Witschey about the new addition to her family, Andrew. In the course of the conversation I questioned if she and her husband had gotten him into a sleep routine. She explained after a good meal of cereal her son would go to sleep with little problem.
Now, on my part forgetting that he was still very young I said, "I hope you are not feeding him any of the sugary cereals." My brain failed for the seventh time that day for not quickly realizing a child of that age is not eating real food yet. Amy pointed out the cereal she spoke of was the kind in a jar. That version of a pureed cereal on a spoon was not very appealing to me, but to young Andrew it was just right. I asked Amy if she had ever tasted the cereal herself. She shook her head in a fashion that I was not sure if she had or not. But, she pointed out that when it came to cereal, Reese's Puffs were her choice.
That conversation got me thinking about the world of breakfast cereal on tables all around the country each day. I wanted to know how many different cereals are available for our choices. After a little searching, I found a long list of cereal. I knew there were a lot, but when I counted the list that contained both cereals that are in production now and the ones from the past, the list is well over 450. By looking at the store shelf and seeing the many varieties available, I knew the list was correct.
For me, when I think of cereals I recall Corn Flakes, Coco Puffs, Cheerios, and Shredded Wheat. I guess from my experience growing up those are the few that came to mind. Of course there was also hot Quaker Oatmeal and Cream of Wheat.
Breakfast cereal manufacturers are a major group in the production of foods we eat. The varieties of cereal have evolved greatly since the first cereals were manufactured in the 1800. Cereals first came to America from Europe in the form of porridge. These foods were made from a variety of cooked whole grains. In Russia, breakfast porridge is made from buckwheat. In parts of Africa it is made from a type of malted sorghum. In China the porridges are made from rice, corn meal, and millet. In Greece cornmeal is mixed with boiling milk until it becomes thick.
In our own country we can thank the vegetarian ideals as influenced by the 19th century members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Their belief in a healthy lifestyle of foods, exercise, and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco was used to help patients in the sanitarium they owned. These beliefs helped in the development of grain based cereals. John Harvey Kellogg around 1890 developed a biscuit made from wheat, oats, and corn meal. At that time Kellogg was a doctor at the sanitarium in Battle Creek, Mich. His new creation was to help patients with occasional bowel problems. The grain-based product was eventually named Granola.
Kellogg, by accident, created wheat flakes after leaving boiled wheat soaking over night. The next day he rolled the wheat out in a thin layer and wheat flakes were discovered. Later on his brother, Will Kellogg, used the same process to form corn flakes. Will formed the Kellogg's Company in 1906 and is still manufacturing breakfast food.
The cereal market is made up by manufacturers using processed grains to produce their products. They are often promoted as being healthy for you to eat. Whole grains such as wheat, rice, rye, oats, barley, corn, and sorghum are the core grains in the industry. Whole grains and fiber are still important for health reasons, much as they were when first used by Kellogg. Cereals today are also fortified with vitamins to help provide a healthy balanced breakfast.
Many cereals are manufactured with sugar as part of the total product. Some may have as much as 40 percent of its total make up coming from sugar. For a healthy diet it is recommended that an adult take in no more than 24 grams of sugar a day. You remember Amy's Reese's Puffs introduced in 1994 by General Mills? Each three quarter cup has approximately 12 grams of sugar, which is 41 percent of the daily recommendation.
The bright colorful packaging can be a big draw to young children. Colorful mascots can be associated by many with specific cereals. Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, Captain Crunch, and the Lucky Charms characters are just a few of the many cartoon-type representatives for different cereals.
Many cereals over the years can be linked to the times in which they sold. Adams Family Cereal in 1991, Batman Returns Cereal in 1992, C-3PO in 1980, Ghost Busters in 1987, Pirates of the Caribbean Cereal in 2006, and Sponge Bob Square Pants in 2004 are just a few of the many event-based cereals.
Since the first cereal was marketed in 1860 the breakfast table has never been the same. We all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and manufacturers hope you never miss it. With all the different variety of whole grains, processed grains, vitamins added, and sugar covered breakfast cereals available, they play an important part in the American day. And your morning bowl of colorful cereal most likely won't upset a good personal lifestyle. The original desire of the Seventh-Day Adventist to improve people's fitness is still very much alive in that morning's bowl of cereal.
So, Amy's Reese's Puffs is a good way to start the day, much as John Kellogg's original health guidelines stated more than 100 years ago. If they made them with double dark chocolate I might give them a try the next time I find my cereal Thru the Lens.