The rising popularity of breakfast cereal

In the beginning was Shredded Wheat.

Today, there are Alpha Bits and Apple Jacks, Bran Buds, Bran Flakes and Raisin Bran, Cheerios, Corn Chex, Rice Chex, and Wheat Chex, Cocoa Krispies, Cocoa Puffs, Corn Crackos, Corn Flakes, Corn Nix, Crispy Critters, Froot Loops, Frosty O’s, Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes, Honeycomb, Krumbles, Lucky Charms, OK’s, Puffa-Puffa Rice, Quake and Quisp, Rice Krispies, Special K, Stars, Sugar Crisp, Sugar Frosted Flakes, Sugar Jets, Sugar Pops, Sugar Smacks, Sugar Sparkled Rice Krinkles, Total, Trix, Wheat Stax, and, of course, Wheaties — to name a few of the breakfast cereals now on the market.

The list amounts to second-degree assault on the language, but it adds up to about 1.2 billion pounds of cleverly disguised corn, oats, rice, and wheat that will be sold to Americans this year as breakfast food. Americans, obviously, buy a lot of ready-to-eat cereals. Retail sales of dry cereals will total about $660 million this year. The business can be very profitable: even a obne percent share of that market can generate something on the order of $1 million in pretax profits.

With sales up 43 percent in the past five years, the dry cereal business has been one of the fastest-growing segments of the food industry. It is no coincidence that this growth has paralleled a surge in the number of very young Americans. Children consume about half the cereal eaten in the US. The industry’s ability to reach this market so well rests on two things: persuading mothers of the nutritional value that is built into even the most ridiculous names on those gaudy packages; and persuading the children themselves, on afternoon and Saturday morning television shows, to demand cereals featuring “go power” or “crunchability.”

This bifold approach has sold a lot of cereal. It has also enabled the manufacturers to promote the uniqueness of their brands, and thus insulate themselves from private labeling and price competition that raise havoc with other package groceries.

Post cereals

Post Toasties corn flakes, Alpha-Bits, Grape Nuts, Raisin Bran, Corn Flakes & Blueberries, Honeycomb, Sugar Crisp

(Article continues below)

Kellogg’s breakfast cereals

OKs, Concentrate, Krumbles, Shredded Wheat, Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Special K, Froot Loops, 40% Bran Flakes, Product 19, Puffa Puffa Rice, Raisin Bran, Cocoa Krispies, Apple Jacks, Sugar Smacks, Sugar Pops


Quaker, Nabisco & Ralston Purina cereals

Quaker: Cap’n Crunch, Quisp, Quake

Nabisco: Spoon Size Shredded Wheat, All Family Team flakes

Ralston Purina: Wheat Chex, Rice Chex



General Mills cereals in 1967

Cheerios, Wheaties, Kix, Trix; Top of page: Jets, Sugared Frosty O’s, Total, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms


See the latest Click Americana books in our shop!

About this story

Source publication: Fortune

Source publication date: December, 1967

Filed under: 1960s, Ephemera, Food & drink, For children, Original product packaging

Click for more on these topics: , , , , , , , ,

Have a comment? Leave it here!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
More in 1967, breakfast, cereal, cheerios, discontinued products, groceries, retro, rice krispies
How to make bacon strip pancakes (1964)

Aunt Jemima bacon strip pancakes recipe The huggin'est moms make Aunt Jemimas! Bacon strip style! Hooray! A breakfast full of...