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If you couldn't eat cereal for breakfast, what would you eat?

Huge healthy breakfast spread on a table with coffee, orange juice, fruit, muesli, smoked salmon, egg, croissants, meat and cheese

History lesson

The tale of the first breakfast cereal

Long before our shelves were lined with colorful boxes of sugary cereals, there was a humble beginning to this breakfast staple. The story starts in 1863 with a health reformer and doctor named James Caleb Jackson. He believed many illnesses stemmed from the digestive system, and at his health spa in upstate New York, he experimented with a cold cereal as a potential cure. This creation, named Granula, was made by baking graham flour into brittle cakes, which were then crumbled and baked again. However, it wasn't exactly a hit at first; it was so hard that it needed to be soaked in milk overnight to be edible.

The concept of cold cereal eventually reached John Harvey Kellogg, another advocate of "pure food." In the late 1870s or early 1880s, Kellogg, running his own health spa, started making his version of granula using a mix of wheat flour, oatmeal, and cornmeal. After a legal tussle with Jackson, Kellogg renamed his cereal "Granola." Unlike its predecessor, Granola found commercial success, partly because it wasn't as rock-hard as Granula. Working with his brother William, Kellogg went on to found a cereal empire that still carries the Kellogg name today, revolutionizing breakfast with the invention of the cereal flake and other varieties.

Granula, a stark contrast to the standard American breakfast of the time, which was a heavy, cholesterol-laden meal, marked a significant shift in eating habits. It was a strong departure from the British tradition of a lavish breakfast designed to fortify the gentry for a day of sport. Despite not becoming a cereal magnate, Jackson's invention and his health spa services ensured he wasn't short of money. His spa, known as the Our Home Sanitarium, became one of the largest in the world.

Joselyn, Heywise Staff

Quiz WriterJoselyn, Heywise Staff

Joselyn wasn’t too keen on multiple choice in high school. She vividly remembers the first biology exam she passed by only the skin of her teeth, which dragged her overall average down into the embarrassingly low 90s (she doesn’t want to talk about it). After swearing off any high school or university courses that required multiple choice tests, Joselyn managed to get an English degree by sweet-talking her professors into offering only essay-style exams. Needless to say, this did not exactly endear her to her peers. This rocky start smoothed out in time, though, and after tumbling down a black quiz hole one day while putting off job hunting, Joselyn realized her hatred of all things a-b-or-c had faded and she actually enjoyed dreaming up new ideas for questions and dangerously correct-sounding answers. You won’t find her quizzes an easy ride, but Joselyn just wants to make sure you’re really testing your knowledge.

Did you know?

Why are cereal mascots banned in parts of Central and South America?

Many American breakfast cereals have an iffy reputation, arguably for a good reason. Some have excess fats and sugars, making them less than ideal for growing children and their adult counterparts in countries struggling with obesity. In 2016, Chile's government put regulations in place that affected how food products are marketed to kids. In 2019, Mexico's government implemented a similar policy. Seemingly innocuous cereal mascots were high on the priority list for facing the axe. Those beloved characters that fill you with nostalgia? They're seen as part of the reason children's diets are so high in added sugars, in addition to cereal box prizes and the lower placement of kids' cereals on grocery store shelves. So, what are the practical implications of these laws? Well, if foods and beverages have more than the recommended levels of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and calories, they must come with a warning on the packaging. Any item with such a warning cannot use child-targeted imagery, period.

How to Play?

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