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The History of Cereal Boxes

Cereal as a food debuted in the latter half of the 19th century. As cereal gained traction as a breakfast food in America, the box became an important consideration. Kellogg’s in particular played a key role in shaping the cereal box as we know it today. Brothers John and William Kellogg started off as partners in creating cereal but quickly digressed in their methods – Dr. John Kellogg saw it purely as a health food while his brother William wanted to add sugar and focus on marketing techniques. William eventually gained control of the Kellogg’s cereal company and began marketing his own cereal recipes to the public. To deter competing cereal companies, William Kellogg printed his signature and the following message on the packaging: “Beware of Imitations. None Genuine Without This Signature.” The signature is still used on packaging today. Originally, William Kellogg packaged his cereal in a plain cardboard box that was then encased in a plastic bag for freshness. It was William’s son, John L. Kellogg, who realized it made more sense to package the cereal inside the plastic bag and place that bag inside the cardboard box – just like we still do today! The Kellogg’s brand also played an important role in cereal advertising; the company pioneered the use of cartoon mascots and bright colors on cereal packaging. In addition, they were also the first to create a mail-in program for prizes.

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