IT’S BEEN AROUND LONGER
THAN YOU THINK
IT'S BEEN AROUND LONGER THAN
Could you tell the story of the first breakfast man
ever ate? Do you know about John Harvey Kellogg's
lucky accident that gave birth to the Corn Flake?
Probably not. Yet the story of breakfast is a long and
complex tale that spans continents and millennia.
Eating breakfast began in the Neolithic era – back
then, stone querns were used to grind grains to make
a sort of porridge. Porridge was also a staple of
Roman soldiers' diets – they called it “pulmentus.”
Indeed, we can thank the Romans for the word
breakfast, which comes from the Latin “disjejunare,”
meaning to break the fast, begun the night before
when going to bed. The word was later contracted to
disnare or disner in Old French, which eventually
became dinner in English. So the word dinner
actually means breakfast!
Rituals changed over time - during the middle ages,
barley and hops were used to make beer, which
was served up in the morning to hungry peasants
alongside oatcakes or porridge. Hot drinks like
coffee and tea, as well as meat, eggs and the like,
were slowly added to the initially short list of
Eating breakfast had become a more elaborate act
by the 19th century, at least in well-off households.
In the 1861 Book of Household Management,
Isabella Beeton suggested a daily breakfast buffet
that included a cold joint of meat, game pies,
broiled mackerel, sausages, bacon and eggs,
muffins, toast, marmalade, butter, jam, coffee,
Ripened by over 140 days sunshine, the maize
which is to become cereals is gathered bya giant
The grain arrives by ship and is transferred by
suction pipes to large storage silos at the rate of
2.000 tons per hour.
At the same time, however, there was a backlash
against these lavish diets. Groups like the 7th Day
Adventists protested that meat-based breakfasts
were leading to ill health and ill morals – the search
began for a healthier breakfast. Pioneers like
John Kellogg, Henry Perky and C.W. Post would,
over the next few decades, develop ready-to-eat
breakfast cereals that would go on to become
extremely popular and varied.
Later, around 1900, other forms of cereals were
being invented in Europe – such as muesli. This was
created by the Swiss doctor Maximilian Bircher-
Benner and consisted of rolled oats, nuts, seeds
and dried fruit. In the 20th century, with advances
in food production, the range of breakfast foods
on offer became more and more varied with time.
However, fewer and fewer people take the time
to have breakfast.
A BRIEF TIMELINE
• Around 7000 B.C.: The first cereals (wheats,
barley) are cultivated in the Middle East
• Around 100 A.D.: Roman soldiers add porridge
to their diets
• 1463: First use of the word “breakfast” in English
• 1500s: First shipments of coffee to Venice
• 1821: William Cobbett, an English writer,
complains about the rise of tea as a breakfast drink
• 1894: John Harvey Kellogg invents the Corn Flake.
3 BULK TRANSPORT
The milled “grits” are then taken by bulk road
transporter to the processing plant.
The mixture is funneled into giant cookers where
it is sealed and rotated under steam pressure.
A HISTORY OF BREAKFAST CEREAL
The history of modern-day breakfast really begins
with a pain in American stomachs. The mid-19th
century breakfast consisted mainly of fatty meat,
was largely devoid of any fibre and created all sorts
of gastrointestinal disorders. There were also
concerns amongst members of a certain religious
movement that the traditional meat-based breakfast
could also lead to certain moral ills! The search
began for a healthier breakfast.
The first ever breakfast cereal was Granula,
invented in the USA in 1863 by James Caleb
Jackson, a convinced vegetarian, who was the
operator of the Jackson Sanitorium in the state
of New York. However, the cereal never caught on
commercially, because the heavy bran nuggets
needed soaking overnight before they were tender
enough to eat.
The first oat-based cereals put on the US market in
late 19th century also suffered from the same problem.
A cook-book written in 1903 confirms that: “four
hours of boiling makes oatmeal good; eight hours
makes it better; twenty-four hours makes it best.”
But then Doctor John Harvey Kellogg arrived
on the scene. A religious man, and a respected
superintendent at the Battle Creek Sanatorium, he
developed a biscuit made from oats, wheat and corn
meal, and a number of other cereals in the 1880s.
Together with his brother, the business savvy former
travelling broom salesman Will Keith Kellogg,
John developed several grain-based cereals. It was,
however, largely by accident that they invented the
first modern, ready-to-eat cereal, the “Corn Flake,”
and established the manufacturing model for
modern cereal production.
5 QUALITY ASSURANCE
Every stage in processing is carefully
checked and controlled.
Heavy flaking mill rollers press the tempered
and partially caramelized corn grit (hearts)
into flakes under 40 tons of pressure.
The flakes are
rotary ovens at
While searching for a digestible bread substitute by
boiling wheat, they accidentally left a pot of boiled
wheat on the fire, which then overcooked. Trying to
salvage the remains, they rolled the wheat out and
let it dry. Surprisingly, each grain of wheat emerged
as a large thin flake, and these flakes turned out to
be a tasty cereal.
The basic manufacturing model for the breakfast
cereal industry had been established. After milling,
whole grains of flour, along with malt, a limited
amount of salt, sugar and water are mixed together
before being cooked. The cooked mixture is then
dried and cooled before being toasted.
But Kellogg was not the only pioneer in the breakfast
cereal arena. Henry Perky, of Denver, Colorado,
invented a machine in 1892 that would produce
wheat biscuits that would then be baked and dried
– his technique was known as “shredding” and gave
birth, in 1895, to “Shredded Wheat.”
Post Cereal came up with its own manufacturing
techniques. In 1895, C.W. Post, also of Battle Creek
in Michigan, USA, invested a small sum of money
in equipment designed to come up with a “breakfast
beverage” that he called “Postum.” Two years later,
his first ready-to-eat cereal, “Grape Nuts,” was
released on the market. This cereal involves mixing
of wheat, barley, flours, salt, yeast and water,
fortification with vitamins, then baking of the mix
into loaves. The loaves are then dried, ground and
sifted to produce the final article – breakfast cereal.
The modern manufacturing process has become
slightly more sophisticated with various gadgets
that made production easier and more varied.
In 1937, General Mills invented the “puffing gun.”
This machine heated up grains of rice (and other
cereals) to extremely high temperatures, at which
point the grains would puff up into tiny balls.
tumble toasted in giant
The toasted flakes flow by gravity in enclosed tubes
from the ovens to filling machines where they are
automatically dispensed by weight into the inner liners.
Filled liners of cereal are passed
along convertors and then packed
into the cereal cartons.
The first cereal to be made in this way was Kix.
Other techniques included extruding flakes into
pellets, producing varieties like Captain Krunch.
After the Second World War, manufacturers started
to bring new and innovative products to the shelves,
increasing choice and variety to the consumer.
Cereal has always been part of a healthy breakfast
and viewed as a nutritious morning snack.
For decades, the cereal industry has been
continuously reviewing and innovating their products
in order to bring the highest quality to its consumers.
This is accompanied by efforts to include more
nutrients – vitamins and minerals – in cereal through
techniques including fortification.
Breakfast cereals are still based on natural
grains – wheat, maize, rice, barley, oats and rye.
Though techniques have changed somewhat,
the basic principle is still simple. Made from
either flour or whole grains, they contain all of
the basic nutrients that we need to start the day:
carbohydrates, protein, fat, minerals, vitamins
After filling, the cartons are packed in cases
which then travel by conveyor belt systems
to the warehouse.
At the beginning of their journey to the breakfast table,
cereals are dispatched by road, night and day, all over the country.
ABOUT BREAKFAST CEREALS
• People who eat breakfast consume more
essential nutrients, tend to be slimmer and have
better concentration than those who skip breakfast
• The nutrients, vitamins and minerals missed at
breakfast are often not made up later in the day
• In the diet breakfast cereals are the leading
source of iron and B vitamins (approximately
20%) and also provide 10% of the fibre in the diet
of young people
• Eating a bowl of breakfast is quick and easy to
prepare in the morning and will provide you with
• Skipping breakfast is common practice in Europe
and people on average skip breakfast 20% of
the time (71 breakfasts< per year) – the British
are the worst, skipping breakfast over 30% of
the time (113 breakfasts per year)
• Yearly per capita consumption of breakfast cereals
in Europe varies from 0.9 Kg in Italy to 6.4 Kg
• A typical 30g bowl of breakfast cereals with milk
contributes less sugar to the diet than other
common breakfast alternatives, such as bread
• On average, breakfast cereals contribute only a small
proportion of sugar to the diet – about 5% of the
average daily intake of added sugar among children
• Most breakfast cereals contain only small amounts
of salt per portion and contribute less than 5% of
the average daily intake of salt.
ABOUT THE EUROPEAN BREAKFAST CEREAL
• The breakfast cereal industry in Europe is worth
more than €4.5 billion
• More than 1.1 million tonnes of breakfast cereals
are produced in the EU each year
• The sector includes more than 70 companies
employing over 11,000 people.
CEEREAL represents the breakfast cereal and oat
milling industries towards the European Union institutions
and other stakeholders. For more information on
CEEREAL please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit
our website www.ceereal.eu