Cereals, of course, in the general sense, including wheat, rice, maize (known as corn in Canada and the United States), rye, oats and barley were among the earliest plants grown by man. But packaged or processed cereals are a modern development.
Breakfast cereals owe their origin to the vegetarians of the last century and health fanatics who believed they could save souls by preaching the virtues of a non-meat diet.
Granula, which was the beginning of Grape-Nuts, was launched in 1863 by a man called James C. Jackson, of Danville, New York. Henry D. Perkey brought out Shredded Wheat in 1893 and Puffed Wheat was developed by Alexander Anderson in 1902.
The religious sect, the Seventh Day Adventists, made Battle Creek, Michigan, the cereal headquarters of the world when the sect formed the Western Health Reform Institute of Battle Creek in 1866, later called the Battle Creek Sanatorium. John Harvey Kellogg, who was a doctor and writer, took over control of the Sanatorium in 1876 and his advocacy of cereals helped to develop what was to become a vast new food industry. His brother, W.K. Kellogg, started a cereal producing company in 1906.
C.W. Post was another cereal pioneer and his Postum Cereal Company formed in 1897 later developed into General Foods Corporation.
The basic idea behind packaged cereals has remained largely unchanged.