Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Commonplace Breakfast

Duke University
Think of all the ordinary bowls, and unpuffed cereals - not to mention all the lazy no-good people like me - who take a look at this 1914 advertisement and say: yeah, they are coming down to Some Commonplace Breakfast! What about it?

Those kids are dressed for fancy puffed wheat or puffed rice, served in etched sundae glasses. They knew there was something better than cornflakes in a crockery bowl without a pedestal! Polished Mary Janes, little belted suits, Buster Brown hair and creepy smiles. This is how you greet fancy children, people. With thrillingly puffed cereal done in "Prof. Anderson's way."

And who might Professor Anderson be? Alexander P.* Anderson, who discovered in 1901 that when you heat up cornstarch, it explodes into puffed - um, cornstarch. He soon moved on to rice and wheat grains and things and popped them, too. And then he founded the Alexander Puffed Rice Company. His puffed grains were a huge hit at the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904; he shot them out of some guns, I don't know why, and puffed rice was henceforth known as "the food shot from guns." This would never convince me to eat something, but apparently it worked a treat, and puffed cereal became very popular. Anderson sold his patents to Quaker Oats, and the rest is (advertising) history. All so that Buster and his sister could flounce downstairs for some distinctly uncommon morning grub.

We actually like puffed wheat, and there is some in a plastic bag on the cereal shelf. But I don't pour it into fancy glasses. And no one wears patent leather Mary Janes around here. That's not a bad thing, I think.

*For Puffed, of course. Actually, his middle name was Pierce. But it should have been Puffed.


DrJulieAnn/Modern Retro Woman said...

Well, this is awkward, isn't it?

[Quietly puts the fancy bowls into storage and takes off the Mary Jane shoes she put on for the puffed wheat breakfast...]

Actually, when I have puffed wheat, I put it in my largest mixing bowl so that I won't be hungry 5 minutes after finishing breakfast. Give me my Scottish or Irish Oats any day!

IludiumPhosdex said...

Coming from southeastern Minnesota, it's something of a point of pride to know that Prof. A. P. Anderson, as created Puffed Rice and Puffed Wheat (both of which are still around, know), was from Red Wing originally.

And the main motivation he had in so creating was to make them more digestible, especially from the standpoint of fiber content.

vanilla said...

I note that the Puffed Rice cost is a full 50% more than the cost of the Puffed Wheat. I liked both when I was a kid, but did not realize there was such a cost differential!

Kath said...

Food shot from guns, eh? Well I'd rather eat something like that than, well, pretty well *anything* that's on heavy TV-rotation from McDonald's or Pizza hut....

But in my ugg boots, not mary janes :)

Dimestore Lipstick said...

His scientist/inventor compound in Red Wing is an Arts Center now.

Mary O'Grady said...

Quaker Oats used to have a great ad for puffed wheat on TV when I was a kid. To the tune of the "1812 Overture," a chorus sang, "This is the cereal that's shot from guns. It's so delicious 'cause it's shot from guns. Mighty guns are filled with wheat. It's the guns that make it good to eat..."
It kind of scares me that I remember that, but I really liked it at the time.

Marcheline said...

A perfectly funny and entertaining Sunday morning read... goes great with coffee!


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