March 7 – Cereal Day

Posted on March 7, 2014

Once upon a time, people ate a variety of grains that had been crushed or ground, cooked with water, prepared into porridge and gruel, oatmeals and grits. They ate their porridges and such hot, and the lucky ones sweetened their mashed, cooked grains with honey, fruit, or sugar.

Those foods are a kind of “cereal” – but back then nobody ate the kind of boxed breakfast cereals that are so popular today, because nobody had yet produced and marketed “dry cereal.” Around the “turn of the century”—the late 1800s and early 1900s—that all changed.

On this date in 1897, Dr. John Kellogg began serving cornflakes in his sanitarium. Soon his brother began to market them (with the addition of sugar, to the horror of the good doctor). The Kellogg's company thus began.

(The Kellogg brothers' invention of flaked cereal happened on another date, as chronicled in this earlier post. But somebody, somewhere chose this date as the anniversary to celebrate as Cereal Day.)

Today's sweetest cereals—the ones made with chocolate and marshmallows and loads of artificial flavors and colors and plenty of high-fructose corn syrup—should be treated as dessert, NOT as part of a healthy breakfast. They should be eaten rarely (if at all). But there are some healthier alternatives like the original Grape Nuts.

By the way, even the healthier cereals can be used as dessert; check out these Yummly Grape Nut recipes:

Grape-Nuts Pudding 

Going for the “kiddie dollars”

Some people point out that cereal companies often advertise to kids, using television commercials during childrens' cartoon shows, designing packaging that features characters kids love, and offering special treats inside or on the box. Yet, the critics say, these cereals advertised to kids are so sugary that they are a disaster for both tooth care and nutrition! Do you agree?

Launch a study of commercials, print ads, box design, and special offers. Figure out the relationship between advertising to kids and nutritional value (or lack thereof).
As much as I enjoy cookies, I am
a bit skeptical that Cookie Crisp cereal
could be part of a healthy breakfast.

Discuss with others whether or not there should be more rules about targeting kids with ads.

PBS Kids offers lesson plans to help you study ads. 

Also on this date:

International Women's Day

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