Growing up in the United States chances are you did your share of watching Saturday morning cartoons while eating breakfast cereal. I grew up eating Cheerios, Grape Nuts, and Rice Krispies while many of my young friends enjoyed Cocoa Pebbles, Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops. The truly fortunate children were served from a variety pack filled with choices that only a child could understand. Was it always this way? History tells us no. In fact, cereal started out very different than the colorful kid-friendly boxes we buy today.
It may be hard to believe, with its endless flavor varieties and sugary additions, but cereal is one of the first widely marketed “health foods.” It was developed as an answer to a growing dyspepsia epidemic in America. During the Civil War, many suffered from this chronic digestion problem that resulted from the unhealthy, high-protein diets of the time. It was clear that eating habits had to change; doctors recognized a need for teaching Americans how to eat and live healthier. Institutions that emphasized exercise and a healthy diet, known as sanitariums, began popping up around the country. Continue reading