By Donna Westfall – January 9, 2017 – What could be easier than opening a box of cold cereal, dumping it into a bowl, adding milk and you’ve got breakfast?
154 years ago, that wasn’t the case. There was no cold cereal until 1863. By 1970, there were 160 varieties of cold cereal and the latest count has it at around 5,000 different types.
In terms of profit margins, nearly 50% is gross profit.
The person credited with developing the first breakfast cereal was James Caleb Jackson. He did it after realizing that diet influenced health. Due to ill health, he switched careers many times; from farmer to abolitionist to journalist until health problems forced his retirement.
That’s when he took over a health spa in New York and became a nutritionist; removed red meat, coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco from the diet of the spa goers. He concentrated on a more vegetarian diet with fruits, vegetables and unprocessed grains. His cereal was called Granula.
From that day to today, we now have major cereal makers with names like Kellogg’s, General Mills/Post and Quaker (now owned by Pepsico) producing products that are loaded with sugar, artificial colors, sprayed with vitamins and preservatives like controversial additive BHT and include genetically modified organisms (GMO’s). If you buy them on sale you can purchase some for less than $2.00 a box or even less with a coupon.
It’s no wonder then that Kellogg’s spent $1.8 billion to fight GMO labeling, General Mills/Post spent $3.6 million and Quaker/Pepsico spent $8.8 million. With all of that money spent to defeat propositions, you can pick up a box of…. let’s say…. Honey Bunches of Oats, read the ingredients and voila…. there it is…..GMO’s. The same with Rice and Corn Chex cereal. Well, if you have been eating these cereals for a couple of decades and just now realized they’ve got all this junk in them what can you do?
Let’s take a break and go back to some history on the manufacturers of cereal.
Interesting fact, Charles William (CW) Post was a patient at a spa operated by John Harvey Kellogg after suffering numerous mental breakdowns. Later they became cereal competitors. Apparently CW was a workaholic and stress would overtake him . Post developed Postum cereal beverage and then Grape Nuts in 1897. At the age of 59, with a net worth of $33 million, living in beautiful Santa Barbara, suffering with stomach problems, he committed suicide by shooting himself. His 27 year old daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, inherited the company and at her death at age 86, she had a net worth of $5 billion. Her home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, was purchased by President-Elect, Donald Trump, in 1985.
Comparing healthy cold cereals to the well known consumer favorites is an article for another day, but keep in mind that at least one, Grape Nuts original, is non-GMO and was certified as such in 2014, if you like Grape Nuts.