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Breakfast cereal (or just cereal) is a food made from processed grains that is often eaten as the first meal of the day. It is eaten hot or cold, usually mixed with milk and sometimes yogurt or fruit. Some companies promote their products for the health benefits from eating oat-based and high-fiber cereals. In America, cereals are often fortified with vitamins. A significant proportion of cold cereals are made with high sugar content. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion.
The breakfast cereal industry has gross profit margins of 40-45%, 90% penetration in some markets, and steady and continued growth throughout its history.
In 2008, the total breakfast cereal sales were slightly over $13.3 billion in the U.S. alone. The number of different types of breakfast cereals in the U.S. has grown from 160 (1970) to 340 (1998) to 4,945 (2012).
HISTORY OF CEREAL IN NORTH AMERICA
Porridge was a traditional food in much of Northern Europe and Russia back to antiquity. Barley was a common grain used, though other grains and yellow peas could be used. In many modern cultures, porridge is still eaten as a breakfast dish.
Food reformers in the 19th century called for cutting back on excessive meat consumption at breakfast. They explored numerous vegetarian alternatives. Late in the century, the Seventh-day Adventists based in Michigan made these food reforms part of their religion, and indeed non-meat breakfasts were featured in their sanatoriums and led to new breakfast cereals.
Early in the 20th century, the Quaker Oats Company (formed in 1901 to replace the American Cereal Company) jumped into the world market. Schumacher, the innovator; Stuart, the manager and financial leader and Crowell, the creative merchandiser, advertiser, and promoter, doubled sales every decade. Alexander Anderson's steam-pressure method of shooting rice from guns created Puffed rice and puffed wheat. Crowell's intensive advertising campaign in the 1920s and 1930s featured promotions with such celebrities as Babe Ruth, Max Baer, and Shirley Temple. Sponsorship of the popular "Rin-Tin-Tin" and "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon" radio shows aided the company's expansion during the depression. Meat rationing during World War II boosted annual sales to $90 million, and by 1956 sales topped $277 million. By 1964 the firm sold over 200 products, grossed over $500 million, and claimed that 8 million people ate Quaker Oats each day. Expansion included acquisition of Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1926, which continues as a leading brand of pancake mixes and syrup, the sport drink Gatorade in 1983, and in 1986, the Golden Grain Company, producers of Rice-A-Roni canned lunch food. In 2001 Quaker Oats was itself bought out by the much larger PepsiCo.
George H. Hoyt created Wheatena circa 1879, during an era when retailers would typically buy cereal (the most popular being cracked wheat, oatmeal, and cerealine) in barrel lots, and scoop it out to sell by the pound to customers. Hoyt, who had found a distinctive process of preparing wheat for cereal, sold his cereal in boxes, offering consumers a more sanitary and consumer-friendly option.
Battle Creek, Michigan
Packaged breakfast cereals were considerably more convenient than a product that had to be cooked and - combined with clever marketing - they became popular. Battle Creek, Michigan was a centre both of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and of innovation in the ready-to-eat cereal industry. And indeed, the church had a substantial impact on the development of cereal goods through the person of John Harvey Kellogg (1851-1943). Son of an Adventist factory owner in Battle Creek, Kellogg was encouraged by his church to train in medicine at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City in 1875. After graduating, he became medical superintendent at the Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, established in 1866 by the Adventists to offer their natural remedies for illness. Many wealthy industrialists came to Kellogg's sanatorium for recuperation and rejuvenation. They were accustomed to breakfasts of ham, eggs, sausages, fried potatoes, hot biscuits, hotcakes, and coffee. In Battle Creek they found fresh air, exercise, rest, "hydrotherapy," a strict vegetarian diet, and abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. To supplement the centre's vegetarian regimen, Kellogg experimented with granola. Soon afterwards he began to experiment with wheat, resulting in a lighter, flakier product. In 1891 he acquired a patent and then in 1895 he launched the Cornflakes brand, which overnight captured a national market. Soon there were forty rival manufacturers in the Battle Creek area. His brother William K. Kellogg (1860-1951) worked for him for many years until, in 1906, he broke away, bought the rights to Cornflakes, and set up the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company. William Kellogg discarded the health food concept, opting for heavy advertising and commercial taste appeal. Later, his signature on every package became the company trademark.
The second major innovator in the cereal industry was Charles W. Post, a salesman who was admitted to Kellogg's sanatorium as a patient in the late 1800s. While there, he grew deeply impressed with their all-grain diet. Upon his release, he began experimenting with grain products, beginning with an all-grain coffee substitute called Postum. In 1898 he introduced Grape-nuts, the concentrated cereal with a nutty flavour (containing neither grapes or nuts). Good business sense, determination, and powerful advertising produced a multi-million dollar fortune for Post in a few years. After his death, his company acquired the Jell-O company in 1925, Baker's chocolate in 1927, Maxwell House coffee in 1928, and Birdseye frozen foods in 1929. In 1929, the company changed its name to General Foods. In 1985, Philip Morris Tobacco Company bought General Foods for $5.6 billion and merged it with its Kraft division.
Because of Kellogg and Post, the city of Battle Creek, Michigan is nicknamed the "Cereal Capital of the World".
In 1902 Force wheat flakes became the first ready-to-eat breakfast cereal introduced into the United Kingdom. The cereal, and the Sunny Jim character, achieved wide success in Britain, at its peak in 1930 selling 12.5 million packages in one year.
In the 1930s, the first puffed cereal, Kix, went on the market. After World War II, the big breakfast cereal companies – now including General Mills, who entered the market in 1924 with Wheaties – increasingly started to target children. The flour was refined to remove fibre, which at the time was considered to undermine digestion and absorption of nutrients, and sugar was added to improve the flavour for children. The new breakfast cereals began to look starkly different from their ancestors. As one example, Kellogg's Sugar Smacks, created in 1953, had 56% sugar by weight. Different mascots were introduced, such as the Rice Krispies elves and later pop icons like Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit.
National advertising and General Mills
Processing is the modification of a grain or mixture of grains usually taking place in a facility remote from the location where the product is eaten. This distinguishes "breakfast cereals" from foods made from grains modified and cooked in the place where they are eaten.
Muesli is a breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit, and nuts. It was developed around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. It is available in a packaged dry form such as Alpen, or it can be made fresh.
Most warm cereals can be classified as porridges, in that they consist of cereal grains which are soaked and/or boiled to soften them and make them palatable. Sweeteners, such as brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup, are often added either by the manufacturer, during cooking, or before eating.
Porridge brands unique to South Africa include Jungle Oats and Bokomo Maltabella (made from malted sorghum).
In other parts of Africa it is known as ugali, sadza, and banku or "makkau."
Breakfast cereal companies make gluten-free cereals which are free of any gluten-containing grains. These cereals are targeted for consumers who suffer from celiac disease. Some companies that produce gluten-free cereals include Kellogg's, General Mills, Nature's Path and Arrowhead Mills.
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