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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Did Anyone Say Cereal?

Kellogg's Pep - - Kellogg's introduced this cereal in 1923, it was whole wheat flakes. Radio programs sponsored by Pep included Superman, Breakfast in Hollywood, and Tom Corbett - - Space Cadet. It wasn't the first cereal to have mail-in offers for boxtops, but it was one of the first to put the things other cereal companies required boxtops for. Pep had such premiums as badges, balsa wood airplanes, trading cards, and cars.

Pep cereal ceased production in 1979.

Quaker Puffed Wheat (Sparkies) and Quaker Puffed Rice (Sparkies) - - Quaker Puffed Wheat and Quaker Puffed Rice were the first cold cereals made by Quaker Oats. The slogan that these are shot from guns was not just hype.Early in the twentieth century, the company devised a machine that takes kernels of wheat and rice and expands them eight times their original size. It's a long tube that actually shoots them into a large container.The Dick Tracy program in the 1930s often had recorded sounds of this machine in action.

Radio programs which were sponsored by Quaker Puffed Wheat and Quaker Puffed Rice included Babe Ruth (1935), Dick Tracy, Little Orphan Annie, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry.

The name of the cereal was changed to Sparkies in 1939 as the company thought the names "Puffed Wheat" and "Puffed Rice" sounded too generic as other companies were making the same cereals. They went back to their original name in 1950.

Although they aren't listed on the Quaker Oats website, these cereals are still being produced.

Post Huskies - - Lou Gehrig said it was the only cereal he would eat... "...and I've eaten them all!" Huskies was a whole wheat flake. In fact, this was the original wheat flake, whose history went back to 1912, 11 years before Kellogg's Pep, and 13 years before Wheaties.

In the 1930s, Huskies was the sponsor of many of the most popular shows including Ripley's Believe It or Not, Joe Penner, Young Dr. Malone, and many athletic contests.

Huskies went out of production prior to World War II.

Shredded Ralston - - This was the cold cereal that Tom Mix ate (there were two Tom Mixes). However this isn't the one that can be purchased now. That is the hot cereal. The cold version was introduced in the 1920s. It was similar to shredded wheat, only coarser and harder. Even though it wasn't the same cereal, when Ralston-Purina introduced Wheat Chex, Shredded Ralston was discontinued. This was about the same time the Tom Mix radio program finally went off the air (ten years after the real Tom Mix was killed in a car accident in Arizona.)

Shredded Ralston had its own jingle:

Shredded Ralston for your breakfast
Starts the day off shining bright;
Gives you lots of cowboy energy
With a flavor that's just right!
It's delicious and nutritious,
Bite sized, and ready to eat
Take a tip from Tom:
Go and tell your mom:
"Shredded Ralston can't be beat!"

Shredded Ralston was manufactured by the Ralston-Purina Company at Checkerboard Square in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1998, the cereal division of that company was sold to General Mills, except for the pet food and private label cereal divisions. The pet food division was sold to Nestle. The company that was left became Ralcorp. In August 2008, the Post division of Kraft Foods (formerly of General Foods)was sold to Ralcorp.

Wheaties - - Wheaties was said to have been created by accident in 1922 when some batter for a cooking experiment was dropped on a hot stove at the Washburn Crosby Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After going through several tests, it was sold as a cold cereal in 1924. Washburn Crosby became General Mills (with the acquisition of 27 grain mills) in 1928.

The slogan for the cereal, Breakfast of Champions, was coined in 1926. This was the same year the jingle was written...

Have you tried Wheaties?
They're whole wheat with all of the bran.

Won't you try Wheaties?

For wheat is the best food for man.

Written to the tune of a popular song at the time, Jazz Baby, the commercial jingle first aired on December 24, 1926.

The first person who had his picture on a box of Wheaties was Lou Gehrig in 1934. He was a spokesman for Post Huskies, an almost identical product. Babe Ruth also appeared on the Wheaties box and he had a contract with Quaker Oats at the time. Until 1958, all the athletes pictures were on the back of the box. Gehrig and Ruth had pictures which could be clipped as trading cards.

On Old Time Radio, Wheaties first sponsored baseball and football games. It then became the sole sponsor for Jack Armstrong, the All American Boy. The jingle was expanded to include something about Jack Armstrong eating them. The 15 minute daily soap opera was actually, more or less, a long commercial for Wheaties. The story seemed to take second place. However,the program was so popular. Jim Ameche (1915-83), who played Jack said that grocery stores were often out of Wheaties for weeks.The company had to work extra hard to put out more and more cereal, especially if there was a special mail in offer for a toy or a piece of athletic equipment. Wheaties also sponsored the Lone Ranger, Night Beat, and Tales of the Texas Rangers.

The first man who had his picture on the front of a box of Wheaties was the Rev. Bob Richards (b. 1926), USA Olympic champion of the 1956 games at Melbourne, Australia, who had also competed in the games at London (1948) and Helsinki (1952). He was the main spokesman for the cereal for the next ten years.

Wheaties now come in different flavors.


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