Ads promote the earliest breakfast cereals.

Ads promote the earliest breakfast cereals.

Granula was invented by James Caleb Jackson in 1863. (Danville Historical Society)

Granula was invented by James Caleb Jackson in 1863. (Danville Historical Society)

Grape-Nuts breakfast cereal was developed by C. W. Post in 1897.

Grape-Nuts breakfast cereal was developed by C. W. Post in 1897.

Cheerios launched in 1941 as CheeriOats. Now $1 billion worth are sold per year. (AP)

Cheerios launched in 1941 as CheeriOats. Now $1 billion worth are sold per year. (AP)

Corn Flakes by Accident

Posted: March 1, 2017

Do you smell that in the air? It’s your breakfast—a nice, steaming bowl of . . . beef.

If you lived in the 1800s, you would probably eat a lot of meat for breakfast. You might not get much fiber—the indigestible part of food that comes from plants—all day. Eventually, the lack of roughage might give you a major tummy ache.

In 1863, a man named Dr. James Jackson tried to change that. He invented Granula, the world’s first breakfast cereal. He made the cereal from chunks of bran. In order to be chewable, the bran had to soak all night in milk. Dr. Jackson fed the tough, tasteless cereal to patients at his health spa in New York.

Another man operated a health spa across the country in Battle Creek, Michigan. Dr. John Kellogg had an idea for a new cereal—a ground-up biscuit made from oats, cornmeal, and wheat. In time, the cereal came to be called granola. But Dr. Kellogg and his brother Will Kellogg still had more inventing to do. In 1894, they boiled wheat and put it through rollers. Usually, this made very thin crackers. But one night, they forgot about a batch of wheat they had been working on. In the morning, they put the stale wheat through the roller anyway. Instead of crackers, the wheat came out as flakes. The Kelloggs called their new cereal Granose. It was claimed that Granose cleared “the tongue and stomach of germs.” Soon afterward, Will Kellogg invented the corn flake. Later, a patient from Dr. Kellogg’s clinic, Charles Post, invented the cereal Grape-Nuts. Grape-Nuts was a lot like Dr. Jackson’s cereal, but easier to chew. (Did you ever think anything could be harder to chew than Grape-Nuts?!)

You can still see the names Kellogg and Post on cereal boxes today. But are the cereals actually healthy? Not all of them are. Some are so sugary you might as well eat a cinnamon bun instead!