100 years ago, breakfast cereals were health foods

Gary Brown

Today, they might be nothing more than breakfast cereals.

But those who dined on them each morning a century ago were told the cereals brought them good health.

Here is are some of the claims of good health in 100-year-old newspaper advertisements.

POST TOASTIES

“The Little Ones can stow away quite a pile of Post Toasties,” said an advertisement in The Repository that made this sound like a good thing. “Let ’em have all they want — it is not only a delightful, flavoury food, wholesome and nourishing, but makes them rosy and plump — ready for study or frolic.

“With cream or fruits it wins young and old.”

Packages cost 10 cents and 15 cents, the advertisement from Postum Cereal Co. in Battle Creek, Mich., offered.

SHREDDED WHEAT

Children could “start the day right” with a more substantial cereal. It came in a premeasured biscuit form.

“Start it by eating Shredded Wheat Biscuit with hot milk or cream and a little fruit,” a Repository advertisement advised. “If you eat more than the stomach needs you are wasting both money and strength. Overtaxing the stomach impairs digestion, weakens brain power and lays the foundation for disease.

“Cut out heavy meats and soggy white flour pastries for 10 days, eat Shredded Wheat and see how much better you will feel – then tell your friends about it.”

GRAPE-NUTS

Postum made another cereal that, apparently, might even be better than its Post Toasties.

“Sometime, Somewhere, Someone MAY (?) make a pure food the equal of Grape-Nuts,” an ad conceded, before adding that “Never — Anyone — Anywhere will make a better one.”

There was a reason, the ad said.

“Grape-Nuts food is the result of thoughtful research and scientific methods; not guesswork. It is made to supply a human need — for building back the worn-out tissues in brain and nerve centers.”

And you thought you were just eating cereal because you were hungry in the morning.

The Repository (Canton, Ohio)