Breakfast cereal is an engineered food substance chiefly made from processed grain (such as corn, rice, oats and wheat) but also from the bran extracted from grain. While usually served in a bowl of milk, it may also be eaten dry. Some breakfast cereals (Cream of Wheat, for example) are designed to be heated before serving. A popular serving method involves the addition of fresh fruit, such as sliced banana, strawberries, blueberries or raspberries.

Typically coated with or containing refined sugar in great quantity, breakfast cereal is packaged in sealed bags which are usually (though not always) contained within brightly colored paper boxes. Additional ingredients may include raisins and/or other dried fruits, marshmallows, tree nuts, food coloring and flavoring, and chemically fortified vitamin supplements.

The first breakfast cereal was invented by Dr. James Caleb Jackson at his New York sanitarium in 1863. Dubbed Granula, Jackson's creation was made from baked sheets of whole grain wheat dough that were granulated into small chips. This recipe was duplicated in the 1890s by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg at his sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Kellogg even called his variation by the same name until Jackson filed a lawsuit, forcing Kellogg to change the name of his product to Granola.

After Dr. Kellogg and his brother developed corn flakes in 1902, the popularity of breakfast cereal began to grow. One of Kellogg's sanitarium patients, Charles W. Post, would later open his own health farm, and used Dr. Jackson's basic Granula recipe to develop Grape Nuts in 1898. While Kellogg had failed to market Granola with any success, Post fared better with his formula.

The production of breakfast cereal today is a multi-billion dollar global industry dominated by three American companies: Kellogg's, Post and General Mills. Many hundreds of different varieties of breakfast cereal now exist, most of which are primarily marketed toward school-age children (though daily consumption by adults is also considerable). Advertising for all brands of this product almost always includes a phrase like "part of a nutritious breakfast", suggesting that juice and toast (along with the implied milk) are necessary for breakfast cereal to complete a balanced meal.

No writeup on breakfast cereal would be complete without a cheap toy prize at the bottom, so here it is: The Empty Bowl, an interesting web site for those who are obsessed with breakfast cereal, can be found at http://www.emptybowl.com/.

Source material:
Noder DejaMorgana, for a factual correction
http://www.foodreference.com/html/artgranola.html

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