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Food & Drink

Cereal — it's not just for breakfast anymore

Mary Pickels
| Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 10:33 a.m.
Breakfast? Midnight snack? Dessert? Yes. It's National Cereal Day, and the multi-flavored dry ingredients are showing up in everything from a bowl to bake sale treats to on the go baggies mixed with nuts and candy, otherwise known as gorp.
Kellogg Company/Sara Jaye Weiss
Breakfast? Midnight snack? Dessert? Yes. It's National Cereal Day, and the multi-flavored dry ingredients are showing up in everything from a bowl to bake sale treats to on the go baggies mixed with nuts and candy, otherwise known as gorp.
The flavor combos for cereal seem to be endless. And for Cheerios fans, this new entry is just peachy.
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The flavor combos for cereal seem to be endless. And for Cheerios fans, this new entry is just peachy.

Whether doused with milk to break one's overnight fast, eaten dry out of the box as a quick snack, or deliciously blended with ingredients like melted butter and marshmallows to make an after school treat, cereal is a staple of many Americans' diets.

And so, of course, it deserves a day of its own, and that day is today.

March 7 is National Cereal Day.

If you're in the Big Apple, you can score yourself a freebie.

According to the National Cereal Day website, cereal came about as a way to counteract a poor, Civil War era American diet, which was largely meat-based.

Cereal at the time was made of dense bran, and so hard it had to be soaked overnight in order to be digestible. And it was far from the many sweet, fruity options available today.

John and Will Kellogg are credited with creating granola and a process allowing wheat to flake, making cereal suddenly easier to swallow and veering toward delicious.

And, of course, the Kellog Company is celebrating.

By 1897, Charles William Post was marketing what is now known as Grape-nuts and his own brand of corn flakes otherwise known as Post Toasties.

Soon enough, though, savvy marketers sense there is a demographic not yet spooning up enough cereal. By 1939, cartoon characters, mascots and sugar, sometimes lots of sugar, begin making their way into cereal advertising and production.

Remember digging deep for that prize buried in the bottom of the box, or carefully cutting out a piece of the cardboard back without tearing the wax paper inside and sending away for a surprise gift?

You still can.

But they're typically marketed to kids.

Cap'n Crunch and Tony the Tiger are among the longtime mascots still tempting us to grab a box of cereal from our grocers' shelves.

Picking a favorite cereal can be a challenge. Who says you have to choose?

According to the Department of Defense, different military branches view cereal consumption in different ways.

Keystoners, apparently our favorite is Post Oreo O's. Agree?

Some of us like cereal so much it makes us break into our happy dance.

Slurp, crunch, toss it into yogurt or blend it into a milkshake — yes, that's a thing.

Enjoy your Smacks, Pops and Flakes however you choose, and let no one judge.

Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5401 or mpickels@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaryPickels.

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