A breakfast cereal is a food product marketed to consumers as a breakfast food. Breakfast cereals may be eaten cold and mixed with milk or yoghurt and fruit, or boiled like oatmeal. Although cereal foods such as porridge are a staple of daily meals in many countries around the world, in wealthier, consumer-conscious nations an entire industry has been created dedicated to the sale of breakfast cereals.
Breakfast cereals are marketed to all ages. For adults, companies such as Kellogg's, Sanitarium, Quaker Oats, Post, Nestlé and General Mills promote their products for the health benefits gained from eating oat-based and high fiber cereals. Manufacturers often fortify breakfast cereals with various vitamins and advertise this fact to attract customers. Cereals with relatively high sugar content are also produced. Sugar-laden breakfast cereals have been extremely popular with children for decades, and many adults also buy them.
Most hot 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.
In India, a popular breakfast combination includes Poha and milk. Poha is flattened rice flakes or wheat flakes and mixed with hot milk, sugar or jagerry and minute quantity of cardamom make a wholesome breakfast. This is very popular in Western India.In north India another very popular break fast is DALIA,it is made with whole wheat gritsand it can be made both sweet(cooked in milk with sugar) or saltish (cooked in water using vegetables)
In Russia, a popular breakfast is kasha, a buckwheat porridge. Kasha is found throughout much of Eastern Europe, including Poland, Croatia, and Lithuania.
Pap is a kind of porridge used in a variety of African meals eaten throughout the day. In other parts of Africa it is known as ugali, sadza, and banku.
Salted porridge is a national dish of Scotland.
Common hot cereals in the United States include oatmeal, grits, and farina. Grape Nuts are sometimes served hot as well. Mush is a traditional American pudding made from corn meal that is often served fried.
Common hot cereals in Canada include oatmeal, Cream of Wheat and Red River cereal. These hot cereals are typically served with maple syrup or brown sugar and milk or cream. Yogurt is a popular addition to Red River cereal. Due to commercial availability, instant oatmeal has become increasingly popular, in flavors such as peaches and cream, maple and brown sugar, and cinnamon raisin.
In Greece, cornmeal is poured into boiling milk to create a cereal of a thick consistency which is often served to young children.
Cold cereal is largely an American invention, but its popularity has spread throughout the world. Companies such as Kellogg's and Nestlé market their cold cereals around the globe.
The Kellogg brothers' contribution
Breakfast cereals have their root in the temperance movement in the United States in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Americans were still eating a full German breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, and beef, with very little fiber. As a result, many people suffered painful and debilitating gastrointestinal disorders. The first breakfast cereal, Granula (named after granules) was invented in 1863 by James Caleb Jackson, operator of the Jackson Sanitorium in Dansville, New York and a staunch vegetarian. Despite its high fiber content, the cereal never became popular. It was far too inconvenient, as the heavy bran nuggets needed soaking overnight before they were tender enough to eat.
The next generation of breakfast cereals was considerably more convenient, and, combined with clever marketing, they finally managed to catch on. In 1877, John Harvey Kellogg, the operator of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, invented a ground up wheat, oat, and cornmeal biscuit for his patients suffering from bowel problems. The product was initially also named Granula, but changed to Granola after a lawsuit. His most famous contribution, however, was an accident. After leaving a batch of boiled wheat soaking overnight and rolling it out, Kellogg had created wheat flakes. His brother Will Kellogg later invented corn flakes from a similar method, bought out his brother's share in their business, and went on to found the Kellogg Company in 1906. With his shrewd marketing and advertising, Kellogg's sold their one millionth case after three years. A patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Charles William Post, also made significant contributions to breakfast cereals. After his 1893 visit, he started his own sanitarium, the La Vita Inn, and developed his own coffee substitute, Postum. In 1897, Post invented Grape Nuts and, coupled with a nation-wide advertising campaign, became a leader in the cereal business.
By the 1930s, the first puffed cereal, Kix, was on the market. Soon shredding was introduced, yielding Shredded Wheat. Starting after World War II, the big breakfast cereal companies (now including General Mills, who started in 1924 with Wheaties) increasingly started to target children. Sugar was added, and the once-healthy breakfasts looked starkly different from their fiber-rich ancestors (Kellogg's Sugar Smacks, started in 1953, had 56% sugar). Different mascots were introduced, first with the Rice Krispies elves and later pop icons like Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit. However, the current trend is to make cereal more healthy by reducing the amount of sugar and adding whole grains.
- "Cereal Buzz: Breakfast Cereal News & Reviews". Retrieved 2006-10-11.
- Breakfast Cereal Compared - Nutrition facts and ingredients of 50 popular cereals compared side-by-side.