How did we become Serial Munchers?

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Eating my breakfast this morning, I suddenly wondered where the idea of cold milk and cornflakes came from? Across the Western world, billions of people start their day with a bowl of the crunchy stuff – pretty standard. But like sandwiches and packets of crisps, the concept of a bowl of flaked grains doused in cold milk doesn’t go that far back in history.

Modern cereal started out as hot porridge – a dish that is eaten in some form in almost every culture of the world. Made of oats, barley, rice, or any local grain, cooked with milk or water, it forms a nourishing breakfast. In some countries it’s even eaten as a staple for lunch and dinner.

Ready to eat breakfast cereals were a product of the early vegetarian movement that started in the last quarter of the 19th century. The first was invented in 1863 – branded ‘Granula’. Unfortunately for its inventor, James Caleb Jackson, it was a flop. No one fancied soaking the nuggets of bran each night so they’d be soft enough for breakfast. No surprises there then.

After a few other attempts by competitors, Dr John Harvey Kellogg invented a biscuit made of different grains, to help his patients with bowel problems. He called it ‘Granula’ too, but quickly changed it to ‘Granola’ after a lawsuit. His next invention came by accident after he left boiled wheat soaking overnight and rolled it out. His new flakes quickly caught on with the help of some clever marketing, and his brother, Will Kellogg, soon developed a variety made of corn. After three years, they’d sold more than a million boxes.

Today the cereal industry is booming, perhaps due to Will Kellogg winning his disagreement with John about adding sugar to their products!

However you like your cereal, it’s great if you can eat it knowing that it’s cruelty free. There are many alternatives to cow’s milk – the Ecologist just published this list of the top 10. If you do appreciate the unique qualities of cow’s milk though, drop us a line to find out about our new scheme to deliver cruelty free milk to you. Coming to a doorstep near you soon! Happy crunching…