National Cereal Day

National Cereal Day is a holiday which is celebrated annually on March 7th. Why does cereal get its own holiday? Well, that’s because it is the most popular breakfast food in the United States today. Up until the mid-19th century, most Americans ate a high protein and high-fat breakfast that featured eggs, bacon, sausage and some kind of potato product. Then cereal came along and gave Americans a healthier alternative to their normal breakfast. Not too bad for a food that most people don’t think twice about.

The History of Cereal

Around the time of the Civil War, many Americans had an ever-increasing problem: too much meat consumption. In the United States, meat was fairly cheap and as a result, many Americans ate meat heavy dishes that included quite a lot of beef and pork. This was particularly true for breakfast. Many Americans at the time would eat a heavy breakfast made with eggs, ham or sausage, bacon, and potatoes. This gave them enough calories to work, which was especially important since many of them didn’t eat another meal until dinner.

Unfortunately, all this meat consumption led to people developing a wide assortment of gastrointestinal problems such as constipation. Many religious leaders of the time also viewed meat consumption as not only physically unhealthy but also spiritually unhealthy. They felt that meat consumption led to sloth and lustful thinking. This would eventually lead to a food reform movement that would transform American’s idea of breakfast forever.

In 1863, James Caleb Jackson invented the first manufactured breakfast cereal. A cereal known as Granula that was made out Graham flour made from bran and shaped into nuggets. It was so hard to eat, however, it had to be soaked overnight in order to soften it. Needless to say, this cereal wasn’t James Jackson’s best contribution to the world. However, his cereal would inspire a Seventh Day Adventist, who was a patron of Mr. Jackson’s sanitarium at the time, and this woman would inspire a surgeon known as John Kellogg. John Kellogg would then go on to partner with his brother Will Kellogg on a variety of meatless breakfast foods. Which just so happened to include Corn Flakes – the cereal that would make them famous.

The Kelloggs weren’t the only ones who got in on the breakfast act. Charles William Post was also inspired by his visit to the sanitarium in 1893. He decided to open up his own spa and by 1897, he was selling his own brand of corn flakes known as Post Toasties and a cereal called Grape-Nuts. From the late 19th century to the 1930s, most breakfast cereals were marketed as a healthy breakfast alternative. Some of the cereals which surfaced around this time include Quaker Puffed Rice in 1904, Kellogg’s Bran Flakes in 1915, Kellogg’s Pep Whole Wheat Flakes in 1922, Wheaties in 1924 and Rice Krispies in 1928. Americans now had a wide variety of healthy grain-based breakfast foods.

However, the healthy trend in breakfast cereal began to change when the first sweetened cereal was introduced to the market in 1939. This cereal was called Ranger Joe Popped Wheat Honnie and was marketed towards children. The company also put out a Ranger Joe Popped Rice Honnie that was pretty successful during the 1940s. Pretty soon, a number of manufacturers were following suit. During the 1950s, Frosted Flakes and Trix hit the market, as well as Cocoa Puffs. In 1961, Quaker introduced Life Cereal to the market and the “Mikey Likes It” commercial became an instant hit. Over the years, dozens of different cereal brands have hit the market. Many of these can still be found today, although there were brands that did disappear. These included Mr. T Cereal, E.T. Cereal, Smurf Magic Berries, Sprinkle Spangles, Donkey Kong Jr. Cereal and Pop Tarts Crunch. Cereal was officially no longer just for adults.

Fun Cereal Facts

  • The cereal industry uses over 800 million pounds of sugar a year
  • The average American consumes over 160 bowls of cereal a year
  • CheeriOats was the original name for Cheerios
  • Corn Flakes was the first boxed cereal to offer a prize

Celebrating National Cereal Day

National Cereal Day can be easily celebrated by simply pouring yourself a bowl of your favorite cereal. The only problem you are likely to encounter is choosing from one of the hundreds of cereals available today.

There is no specific location where this holiday is celebrated.