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The History of Cereal

Did you know that today, March 7th, is National Cereal Day? Over the years, this breakfast food has become an American staple. But do you know the history of this classic food? Cereal first originated as a health food at two medical sanitariums in the latter half of the 19th century - James Caleb Jackson created one version for his facility, while John Harvey Kellogg created another for his own. Kellogg and his younger brother created Corn Flakes around the turn of the century, and C. W. Post, a former patient of Kellogg’s, created his own cereal called Grape-Nuts around the same time. Corn Flakes was the first cereal to include an in-box prize, while Grape-Nuts was the first to offer a discount coupon. Wheaties and Rice Krispies debuted in the 1920s and 1930s, respectively. Cheerios, originally styled as CheeriOats, debuted in the 1940s, although the popular Honey Nut Cheerios variety did not debut until 1979. After World War II, social changes coupled with the baby boom caused a sharp increase in cereal consumption, and sugar content that appealed to kids became a selling point. Frosted Flakes debuted in the postwar period and kickstarted the trend of TV advertising with their Tony the Tiger character. Sugary cereals like Count Chocula and Fruity Pebbles had their heyday in the 1970s. However, by the 1990s and early 2000s, organic cereals like Puffins and Kashi became major contenders as people began to focus more on healthy foods.

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