ST. LOUIS – Introduced in 1898, Grape-Nuts was the nation’s first cold cereal, though you can also eat it hot. It’s not grape, nor is it nuts, but instead it is whole wheat, flour, salt and yeast. It is baked, and then ground up and baked again. A glorious process of American history alive and well.
Post Foods LLC has reintroduced a retro package for Grape-Nuts to celebrate 100 years of the cereal. The backside (see below) shows various packaging over the years. There is also a picture of C.W. Post himself.
C. W. Post created Grape-Nuts to help with his digestion; in the process he created an empire. In the early days, it was accompanied by his health tract, The Road to Wellville. Grape-Nuts came after Postum, a hot drink he created.
His company was originally called the Postum Cereals company, but after it merged with Jell-O in 1925, Maxwell House coffee in 1928 it became General Foods Corporation in 1929. His daughter Marjorie Meriweather Post helped to grow the company into one of the nation’s greatest prepared foods companies.
In 1989, Philip Morris merged General Foods with Kraft Foods, which it had acquired in 1987. General Foods then became Kraft General Foods, then just Kraft Foods (big mistake). In 2007 Kraft spun off Post Cereals and it merged with Ralcorp Holdings. It is now Post Foods LLC.
Post makes a number of classic cereals, including Golden Crisp (we call it Super Sugar Crisp), Post Raisin Bran, Cocoa Pebbles, Fruity Pebbles and a few others. Sadly, Post Toasties (really corn flakes) were discontinued, as was Postum.
The company is smart to promote the Post heritage. Not only were he and his daughter innovators in food, she was philanthropic and left a long legacy of art and houses, including Hillwood in D.C.
C.W. Post’s grand-daughter is the actress Dina Merrill, Post’s daughter by husband E.F. Hutton. Interestingly, Dina Merrill has been involved with resuscitating another wonderful American brand name, RKO, or Radio-Keith-Orpheum Studios.