In December, US Mills, the former maker of Farina breakfast cereal, sold brands that included Erewhon, Uncle Sam, Skinner’s Raisin Bran (founded 1926) and New Morning to the company Attune Foods, makers of health food bars. (Farina was sold to Malt-O-Meal.)
The best known of the brands is Uncle Sam, which is sold across the country and at major chains like Publix. The brands are a perfect fit, as sister brand Erewhon was founded in 1966 by two macrobiotic educators in Boston on Newbury Street. The purchase is part of a number of newer, more nimble health food companies that have recognized the value of older brands with a good story. For instance, Hain Celestial, makers of all sorts of fascinating heathier foods, purchased the 1930s-vintage Queen Helene beauty care line.
Uncle Sam is one of the great old cereal brands, a relic of a time when cereal eating was the height of health consciousness. According to the company’s site, the cereal was born in 1908, when founder Lafayette Coltrin began sprinkling flaxseed on his whole wheat flakes. Apparently, Coltrin looked a bit like Uncle Sam, and so the cereal was named. In the 1950s, the marketing was decidedly medicinal, advertising it as the laxative cereal.
It was for years sold by the Uncle Sam Breakfast Food Company of Omaha. Today, its owner is Attune, makers of the Attune food bars. Rob Hurlbut is President and CEO of Attune Foods based in San Francisco, California.
In October 2006 Attune introduced a line of Probiotic Wellness Bars. Attune launched its bars nationally at Whole Foods in early 2007 and they can now be found in the dairy department at over 2,500 retail locations.