Ferdinand Schumacher, a German immigrant, began the cereal revolution in 1854 with a hand oats grinder in the back room of a small store in Akron, Ohio. His German Mills American Oatmeal Company was the nation’s first commercial oatmeal manufacturer. In 1877, Schumacher adopted the Quaker symbol, the first registered trademark for a breakfast cereal.
I remember when I was a child, we all sat around the table to eat our breakfast. Mum would always have Kelloggs Cornflakes because they were no supermarket’s own brands in those days. We children were given porridge. I can still hear the spoon scraping the bottom of the pan as stood at the stove stirring it.
She was a foster mother, and we were her four children. Often, we would get up in the mornings, go to the kitchen and there would be another child, or children sitting at our breakfast table having arrived as an emergency in the middle of the night.
Later, as we got older, we, too, had cereal and milk. The boxes were left on the table and I often read the back of it whilst I ate. One of my favourite sibling’s rivalry games was to object very loudly when someone removed the box from in front of me to fill their bowl while I was reading it.
Now, over fifty years later, I still love my cereal. Breakfast is a bowl of Rice Krispies, Cornflakes, Cheerios, whatever I fancy from the choice in the cupboard. What I do object to, even after all this time, is how advertisers still promote cereals as being for kids. Or maybe I am just a big kid at heart.
Julia Donaldson, who wrote the Gruffalo books, has also written a children’s tale described as a hilarious story about a child who loves cereals.