March 7, 2014 – Cereal is the ultimate comfort food. I associate its crunchy goodness with childhood, Saturday morning cartoons, and fighting with my sister and brother over who gets to read the cereal box.
The health benefits are debatable – for every whole grain variety there are probably five or more others considered pure junk food – but Will Keith Kellogg, the founder of The Kellogg Company in 1897 touted it as the ultimate health food, and he lived to age 91.
Kellogg believed his cereal was a healthier choice than the bacon, eggs, and caffeine Americans consumed, although it wasn’t easy convincing the public at first. In the 1940s, thanks to the addition of sugar and market savvy executives creating cartoon mascots, cereal began to appeal to children, the ultimate consumer, beginning a food trend that remains strong today.
Now, cereal companies face another battle, and it’s not about the unhealthy amounts of high fructose corn syrup that appear in each serving. The media revealed that Cheerios, one of the most popular cereals on the market, contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or material that has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. The public outcry made General Mills rethink that policy, and now Cheerios are produced without the genetic material. A petition, with nearly 200,000 signatures is circulating on Facebook to insist General Mills remove GMOs from all of their cereals, including Chex, Honey Nut Cheerios, Golden Grahams, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Lucky Charms.
Kellogg’s and Post will likely wait and see what happens with General Mills before they make a change. Post is poised to act first and offer a GMO-free version of their popular Grape Nuts cereal. Apparently, it’s an easier process for cereals with fewer and actual whole grain ingredients rather than the variety with lots of sugar, and artificial colors and flavors.
More than 49 percent of Americans begin their day with a bowl of cereal, and 2.7 billion boxes are sold in the U.S. every year. That is enough boxes to wrap around the earth 13 times. I’m not sure if those sales stats mean not enough consumers are concerned with the addition of GMOs, or they are uninformed because the food companies are not required to include GMO information on the packaging.
GMOs and other artificial ingredients aside, it is National Cereal Day, which makes me want a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats. Here is a look at Rankers list of the best breakfast cereals of all time: http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/the-best-breakfast-cereals-of-all-time.