Investigation into Dry cereal
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My name is Asher and lets begin
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Today we are opening an informal investigation into Dry Cereal
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Disclaimer! This episode on dry cereal got way-way-way more out of control then I expected! What started out as an investigation into cereal turned into a deep dive into gastrointestinal diseases, the war on masturbation, corporate legal battles, suicide, and ultimately the making of the official informal investigation podcast cereal. Consider yourselves warned!
To get our story started let's take you back to the breakfast table before the 20th century. Generally there were 2 versions of the American breakfast:
If you were rich it was a meat and fat heavy meal consisting of bacon, gravy, fried potatoes, and who knows what else. Obviously this was not a very healthy way to start your day.
If you were poor you would eat hot cereals from grain whether it be porridge, gruel or mush. I wasn’t exactly sure the difference between these. With a little help from wikipedia it appears Porridge is a breakfast cereal made by boiling ground or crushed grain in water or milk. Gruel is similar to porridge however it is generally thinner. Mush on the other hand is a cornmeal porridge that can either be served as is or allowed to set then cut into squares and fried. These hot cereals were labor intensive requiring hours of boiling over wood stoves every morning. I bet all the mothers out there were starting to get fed up needing to wake up hours early to make some hardly appreciated mush for their family
The obvious disadvantages of these two breakfast options left a vacuum for a revolution of American breakfast.
Let’s jump in!
In 1875 the now popular oatmeal was brought to the market by Henry Parsons Crowell. First he made cracked oats then later on the technology was developed to make rolled oats. His company was originally called the Consolidated Oatmeal Company and later switched their name to Quaker Oats - as this sounds a lot more wholesome. I can’t imagine why anyone would put consolidated and oatmeal in the same sentence - but that’s just me. Making oatmeal still took a decent amount of time as instant oats had not yet been invented. I assume Crowell's oats were similar to the old fashioned Quaker Oats we have today. If only he knew one day his breakthrough hot cereal would be called old fashioned. Another fun fact...those cylindrical containers we buy oatmeal in were created by Crowell and a major breakthrough in food packaging at that time.
Where exactly the story of dry cereal begins is unclear. Some people start with Sylvester Graham. He was the maker of flour and these bread nuggets which later got bastardized into what we know as the graham cracker. Sylvester Graham -- Graham cracker -- Yep, mind blown! This story is going to become a who’s who of American food manufacturing. Some tell a story where grahams biscuits were too hard to chew so people started to soak them in milk and then call this the beginning of dry cereal. Dry - sure but cereal I dono...
Graham was a presbyterian minister and called himself a christian physiologist and created the American physiological society(still around today and can be found