So, just what is "Cream of Wheat", is it really good for you, and how long has it been around?
Like many products I've already written about, this happens to be another one that got it's start in the late 1800's. Back in 1893 Grand Forks, North Dakota, a miller by the name of Thomas S. Amidon, was really struggling to keep his small flour mill open. This was during the famous "Panic of 1893", a time in American history in which a serious economic depression was brought on by the poor financial state of the Railroads. ( Predating the worst yet to come, being that of the Great Depression of the 1930's.) He was trying to come up with ideas to boost business, and he thought about the breakfast porridge that his own family enjoyed- which consisted of the part of the wheat taken from the first break rolls of the flour mill- called the "top of the stream". This component of the flour was considered the highest quality, thus the name "Cream of Wheat"! (So, really the name had nothing to do with cream as an ingredient, nor the "creamy" texture!) Next, Amidon had to convince his other 3 business partners, (Emery Mapes, George Bull, and George Clifford), of his new product, (which they all liked!), and packed some up to ship to their brokers in New York City. The Brokers also felt it was an amazing product, and began placing large orders within 12 hours of receiving the shipment! Initially, the partners were so broke, they had to cut their own cardboard boxes, label, and use scrap lumber to ship the product in handmade crates. Emory Mapes was previously a Printer, and had a print he decided to use for the label, (that he liked and thought was fitting), of the man who became known as "Rastus" for this famous cereal. (Who is still on boxes today!) At the turn of the century- through the 1920's, this was one of the first food products packaged to have such elaborate illustrations, and a national ad campaign. Four years later in 1897, the product had outgrown the small mill in North Dakota, and had to move production to Minnesota- where it remained until 1928. In 1962, Nabisco acquired the "Cream of Wheat" product, and B&G Foods acquired the distribution and manufacturing of the cereal in 2007. To this day, "Cream of Wheat" is one of the leading brand names in hot/instant cereals!
Now to answer the burning question: is it really a healthy cereal? Well, the consensus appears to be "Yes"! "Cream of Wheat" is made from ground wheat, (farina), and is fortified with additional vitamins and minerals. It's inexpensive, fairly low calorie, good source of fiber, calcium, iron, and is easily digested! For the healthiest product, go with the stovetop "Original", or "Whole Grain" options. The "instant" varieties are more processed to cook quicker, and the flavored varieties may taste good, but contain more sugar and calories! You can also add some chia seeds, flax seed, bran, nuts, or fresh fruit to ramp up the nutrients and protein. Also, as an alternative to cow's milk, you can also cook your Cream of Wheat with Soy, Almond, or Coconut milk as well. There's a good reason why this cereal has remained on shelves for over 120 years......it's a great and solid product!
Whether you are recovering from a surgery or illness, need an easily digestible cereal for your wee ones, or want a healthy and nutritious cereal that's budget friendly and in keeping with a balanced diet, seek out this "oldie but goodie" the next time you go shopping! Here's another great vintage commercial for you to enjoy!