Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A cereal is a grass, in the monocot family Poaceae, also known as Gramineae, cultivated for the edible components of their grain (botanically, a type of fruit called a caryopsis), composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran. Cereal grains are grown in greater quantities and provide more food energy worldwide than any other type of crop; they are therefore staple crops.

In their natural form (as in whole grain), they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and protein. However, when refined by the removal of the bran and germ, the remaining endosperm is mostly carbohydrate and lacks the majority of the other nutrients. In some developing nations, grain in the form of rice, wheat, millet, or maize constitutes a majority of daily sustenance. In developed nations, cereal consumption is moderate and varied but still substantial.

The word cereal derives from Ceres, the name of the Roman goddess of harvest and agriculture. French céréale (“having to do with cereal”), from Latin Cerealis (“of or relating to Ceres”), from Ceres (“Roman goddess of agriculture”), from Proto-Indo-European *ker- (“grow”), from which also Latin sincerus (English sincere) and Latin crēscō (“grow”) (English crescent).

Breakfast cereal
Breakfast cereal (or just cereal) is a food made from processed grains, such as maize, oats, wheat or rice, usually eaten for breakfast with milk, yogurt and sometimes sugar or fruit.
It is often eaten cold with a spoon but may be eaten dry. Some companies promote their products for the health benefits from eating oat-based and high-fiber cereals. Cereals may be fortified with vitamins. A significant proportion of cereals are made with high sugar content. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion.

History of Cereal
Man has been cultivating cereals as a staple part of the diet for thousands of years. Ever since the stone-age cereals have been a crucial aspect of existence. One of the greatest benefits that cereals brought was the possibility to store food throughout the year so that the primitive communities could raise and grow their own crops in the same area rather than be forced to continually be on the move in search of new hunting areas. Grain has been harvested throughout the world. Once baking had been developed, grain became not only an essential part of the diet but also an important commodity to be traded and even used as a currency.

Porridge (also spelled porage, porrige, parritch, etc.), is a dish made by boiling ground, crushed, or chopped cereal in water, milk, or both, with optional flavourings, usually served hot in a bowl or dish. It may be sweetened with sugar, or served as a savoury dish. The term is usually used for oat porridge (porridge oats); there are similar dishes made with other grains or legumes, but they often have other unique names, such as polenta or grits.

Porridge was a traditional food in much of Northern Europe and Russia back to antiquity. Barley was a common grain used, though other grains and yellow peas could be used. In many modern cultures, porridge is still eaten as a breakfast dish.

History of Breakfast
Eating breakfast began in the Neolithic (late Stone Age) era, when large stones were used to grind grains to make a sort of porridge. Porridge was also a staple of Roman Soldiers’ diets – they called it pulmentus.
During the middle ages, barley and hops were used to make beer which was served up in the morning to hungry peasants alongside oatcakes or porridge.

Breakfast as we know it began in the early 19th century, when some middle-class men started to work regular hours in offices – prior to that people would often work for a few hours, then eat a meal at about 10am. Wives or kitchen staff would often serve these 19th century commuters a two-course meal that would often begin with a bowl of porridge. This would be followed by a full English breakfast: toast and eggs with bacon or fish. This style of meal wasn't referred to as the ‘full English’ until the First World War when lighter breakfasts grew in popularity.

Eating breakfast had become a more elaborate act by the 19th century, at least in well-off households. In the 1861 Book of Household Management, Isabella Beeton suggested a daily breakfast buffet that included a cold joint of meat, game pies, broiled mackerel, sausages, bacon and eggs, muffins, toast, marmalade, butter, jam, coffee and tea.

Food reformers in the 19th century called for cutting back on excessive meat consumption at breakfast. They explored numerous vegetarian alternatives. Late in the century, the Seventh Day Adventists based in Michigan made these food reforms part of their religion, and indeed non-meat breakfasts were featured in their sanitariums and led to new breakfast cereals.
In the 1830s, the Reverend Sylvester Graham preached the virtues of a vegetarian diet to his congregation and in particular the importance of wholemeal flour. Meat-eating, he said, excited the carnal passions.

Breakfast Cereal
The first ever breakfast cereal was Granola, invented in the USA in 1863 by James Caleb Jackson, a convinced vegetarian, who was the operator of Our Home on the Hillside which was later replaced by the Jackson Sanatorium in Dansville, New York.
The cereal never became popular as the heavy bran nuggets needed soaking overnight before they were tender enough to eat and were considered inconvenient.
The first oat-based cereals put on the US market in late 19th century also suffered from the same problem. A cook-book written in 1903 confirms that: “four hours of boiling makes oatmeal good; eight hours makes it better; twenty-four hours makes it best.”
George H. Hoyt created Wheatena circa 1879, during an era when retailers would typically buy cereal (the most popular being cracked wheat, oatmeal, and cerealine) in barrel lots, and scoop it out to sell by the pound to customers. Hoyt, who had found a distinctive process of preparing wheat for cereal, sold his cereal in boxes, offering consumers a more sanitary and consumer-friendly option.

Cooked Oatmeal
Ferdinand Schumacher, a German immigrant, began the cereals revolution in 1854 with a hand oats grinder in the back room of a small store in, Akron, Ohio. His German Mills American Oatmeal Company was the nation's first commercial oatmeal manufacturer. He marketed the product locally as a substitute for breakfast pork. Improved production technology (steel cutters, porcelain rollers, improved hullers), combined with an influx of German and Irish immigrants, quickly boosted sales and profits. In 1877, Schumacher adopted the Quaker symbol, the first registered trademark for a breakfast cereal. The acceptance of "horse food" for human consumption encouraged other entrepreneurs to enter the industry. Henry Parsons Crowell started operations in 1882, and John Robert Stuart in 1885. Crowell cut costs by consolidating every step of the processing—grading, cleaning, hulling, cutting, rolling, packaging, and shipping—in one factory operating at Ravenna, Ohio. Stuart operated mills in Chicago and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Stuart and Crowell combined in 1885 and initiated a price war. After a fire at his mill in Akron, Schumacher joined Stuart and Crowell to form the Consolidated Oatmeal Company. The American Cereal Company (Quaker Oats) created a cereal made from oats in 1877, manufacturing the product in Akron, Ohio. Separately, In 1888, a trust or holding company combined the nation's seven largest mills into the American Cereal Company using the Quaker Oats brand name. By 1900 technology, entrepreneurship, and the "Man in Quaker Garb"—a symbol of plain honesty and reliability—gave Quaker Oats a national market and annual sales of $10 million.

Following on from Jackson, the Seventh Day Adventists took up the mission begun by Graham. A colony of them had set up in a small town called Battle Creek near the American Great Lakes in Michigan. There they established the Western Health Reform Institute in 1866 to cure hog guzzling and to their mind degenerate Americans of their dyspepsia and vices. John Harvey Kellogg turned it into the famous Battle Creek Sanatarium, a curious but money-spinning mix of health spa, holiday camp and experimental hospital. Kellogg set about devising cures for what he believed were the common ills of the day, in particular constipation and masturbation. In Kellogg's mind the two were closely linked, the common cause being a lack of fibre, both dietary and moral.

As well as prescribing daily cold water baths, exercise drills, and unorthodox medical interventions, creating health-giving foods for patients was a major preoccupation. Kellogg, his wife and his younger brother William Keith Kellogg experimented in the Sanatarium kitchen to produce an easily digested form of cereal. They came up with their own highly profitable Granula, but were promptly sued by Jackson, the original maker of Granula, and had to change the name to Granola. Victorian prudery and religion may have been at the root of processed cereal development, but parables about camels and eyes of needles did not discourage any of these evangelicals from seeing the commercial advantage and using the law to protect their business interests.

Around this time an entrepreneur called Henry Perky had also invented a way of passing steamed wheat through rollers, one grooved and one smooth, to form strands that could be pressed into biscuits to make the first shredded wheat. JH Kellogg experimented further with his team and eventually they found a way of rolling cooked wheat to make flakes which could then be baked. Cornflakes followed when the Kelloggs worked out how to use cheap American corn instead of wheat, although initially they had problems keeping them crisp and preventing them from going rancid. This great leap forward is of a piece with other major developments in the industrialization of our diets: it is usually the combination of technological advances and the right economic conditions that lead to radical changes in what we eat.

By 1903 Battle Creek had turned into a cereal Klondike. At one point there were over 100 cereal factories operating in the town to satisfy the new craze, many making fabulously exaggerated claims about the health benefits of their products. This symbiotic relationship between sales, health claims and the promotion of packaged breakfast cereals has continued ever since. Nor was it a coincidence that this particular Klondike sprang up in the American Mid-West, whose vast tracts of virgin land had been recently opened up by settlers and turned over to the agricultural production that powered US development.

The Kelloggs had tried unsuccessfully to protect their flaking process with patents. When WK saw how much others were making from the new foods, he launched his own advertizing campaign, giving away free samples and putting ads in newspapers.

The road to nutritional corruption opened up early. The Kellogg brothers argued over whether to make the cereals more palatable by adding sugar – the addition was anathema to John who saw sugar as an adulterant and a scourge, but William reckoned it was needed to stop the products tasting like 'horse-food'. WK won.

The technology used to make industrial quantities of breakfast cereal today is essentially the same as that developed from the kitchen experiments of those fundamentalist healers, although new ways have been found to add the sugar, salt and flavourings.

Cornflakes are generally made by breaking corn kernels into smaller grits which are then steam cooked in batches of up to a tonne under pressure of about 20lbs per square inch. The nutritious germ with its essential fats is first removed because, as the Kellogg brothers discovered all that time ago, it goes rancid over time and gets in the way of long shelf life. Flavourings, vitamins to replace those lost in processing and sugar may be added at this stage. It then takes four hours and vast amounts of energy to drive the steam out of the cooked grits before they can be rolled by giant rollers into flakes.
Because of Kellogg, the city of Battle Creek, Michigan is nicknamed the "cereal city".

At the turn of the 20th century, other cereals, such as muesli were being invented in Europe.
Breakfast cereals found success when rationing made bacon and eggs scarce during the war. Also, as women entered the workforce, they no longer had the time to cook a full meal in the morning and cereals allowed children to prepare their own breakfast.
The range of breakfast foods on offer became more and more varied.

Now, however, despite the choice available, fewer and fewer people take the time to have breakfast.

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