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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cream of Wheat "the cream of the crop"

When I was but a youngster, I had to eat a lot of Cream of Wheat, lumps and all. Thank goodness, I loved it! I've always found great comfort in that stick to your ribs gratification Cream of Wheat offers. In fact, I still do! A little bit of brown sugar, a splash of cream (in those days, my sister and I use to scramble for the top of the milk where the delicate cream rested:)

Americans eat more cereal foods for
breakfast than all the rest of the world.
This is how one well-known breakfast food,
devised in an effort to save a nearly bankrupt-flour mill,
grew into a great American business.

50 Ways of Serving Cream of Wheat (1924)

The porridge that became Cream of Wheat has humble beginnings. The Diamond Milling Company of Grand Forks, North Dakota, had barely survived the Panic of 1893 when head miller Thomas S. Amidon, a Scottish immigrant, persuaded his partners, Emery Mapes, George Bull and George Clifford, Sr. to market a product his family enjoyed for breakfast most chilly mornings; porridge. This breakfast porridge consisted of the unused portion of the wheat taken from the first break rolls at the flour mill normally referred to as the "top of the steam" or "cream of the crop."

On October 6, 1893, Cream Of Wheat, a hot cereal, was created by millers in North Dakota. During the economic depression of that year, the Diamond Mill of Grand Forks, North Dakota was looking to revive their business. The head miller, Thomas S. Amidon, convinced the partners (Emery Mapes, George Bull, and George Clifford, Sr.) to try making a porridge product using farina. George Clifford’s brother, Fred Sr., came up with the name Cream of Wheat because the product was so white...Today in Science

We Plain Folks Cream of Wheat fans would rather not get into the tactical question as to whether the iconic Cream of Wheat chef; Rastus was a real person or not? I'll leave that up to the experts. However, I would like to note that the folks at Cream of Wheat, in particular Emery Mapes, who was "a demanding and eccentric marketing genius," were one of the first pioneers of product branding. Not only do I feel that warmth and comfort from the enjoyment of a snug bowl of Cream of Wheat because it soothes my tummy but because that's the way Mr. Mapes and others wanted me to feel. That's marketing!!!

The partners at the Cream of Wheat Company spared no expense when it came to advertising. In 1898, Cream of Wheat's first advertising appeared in Ladies Home Journal As the cereal's popularity reaped accolades, so did the advertising campaign Mapes shrewdly contrived. Around the turn of the century the Cream of Wheat Co. began an advertising campaign that featured some of the country's best illustrators. Artists including N.C. Wyeth, Jessie Willcox Smith, and Edward V. Brewer were employed to create full-page advertisements in American magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, and Collier’s. They also created an advertising jingle which aired during the then popular radio show, "Let's Pretend" It went something like this:

Cream of Wheat Jingle; Do You Remember?
"Cream of Wheat is so good to eat 

That we have it every day. 

It makes us strong as we sing this song 

And it makes us shout 'HOORAY'! 

It's good for growing babies And grownups, too, to eat, 

For all the family's breakfast 

You can't beat Cream of Wheat."
The Cream of Wheat Company was a major player in the competitive climate of cereal advertising of the early 20th century. The company's founders knew in order to sell a high turnover, low-profit margin product like cereal, they'd need to advertise - a lot. So, the company put its name on cups, bowls, dolls, and children's wood blocks.

Advertising historian and Smithsonian curator Charlie McGovern says Cream of Wheat made a name for itself in the early use of product licensing, something so familiar to 21st century consumers..."They used a wide variety of products to advertise their image and they tied in the Cream of Wheat product, the cereal, to a wide array of everyday household items." The ads nearly always featured children and sold Cream of Wheat as the parents' helper. It was easy to make, and it kept children strong and healthy. (more @ Minnesota Public Radio)

If you would like to view the advertising art created by some of the notables mentioned above, Red Wing Framing Gallery and Grapefruit Moon Gallery have an online showcase of original Cream of Wheat advertising paintings. From their site:

Cream of Wheat pioneered product branding, and the company insisted on an unwavering depiction of the product which associated the hot breakfast with images of warmth and comfort. All of the advertisements created under Mapes’ watch reflected the ideal of Cream of Wheat as an embodiment of the American home. The Cream of Wheat advertising campaign is remembered as one of the most successful and controversial branding efforts in American history...

The Cream of Wheat website also has a nostalgic tour of artist prints too which appear to be downloadable:)

Today I would like to share a rather humourous Cream of Wheat recipe book illustrated by Al Capp; Mammy Yokum's Fav'Rite Cream of What Recipes © 1946 United Features Syndicate, Inc.

Let's begin with Li'l Abners Cream of Wheat Apple Pudding, After all, it still is Apple Month:)

Li'l Abners Cream of Wheat Apple Pudding
1-1/2 cups cooked Cream of Wheat
1/2 tea. vanilla
1-1/2 cups scalded milk
1 cup sliced apples
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbs. sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 tea nutmeg
1 tbs. butter
Combine cooked Cream of Wheat, scalded milk, beaten eggs and 1/4 cup sugar. Add vanilla. Place sliced apples in a well greased baking dish (1-1/2 quarts). Pour Cream of Wheat mixture over apples. Combine nutmeg and 2 tbs. sugar and sprinkle over the top. Dot with butter. Bake in moderate slow oven (350) for 40 to 50 minutes. Serve hot or cold with cream if desired. Serves 6.

Are you in the mood for a Cream of Wheat Burger?

Me either:) Sure are fun to look at though!!!

Resources
1. Cream of Wheat: Promotions and Coupons
2. Was the Black chef on Cream of Wheat boxes a real person?
3. New York Times Cream of Wheat Salad (for the 100th anniversary of Cream of Wheat)

17 comments:

  1. Hey Louise, this is an interesting and inspiring post. will surely try this cream of wheat recipe. Best Regards, sonia

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  2. I loved cream of wheat! And I know I'm in the minority but I liked it lumpy. If you poured the water into the instant one without mixing and let it sit you could get more lumps. Haha.

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  3. Interesting, Louise! I'm not sure what Cream of Wheat is! But I know that it is a healthy choice for breakfast! :)
    p/s: you are right, more dishes coming for the Cookbook Party!

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  4. Wow...that takes me back to childhood. We ate lots of cream of wheat but I was a dork, and loved it :-) Lil' Abner's version here looks mighty tasty.

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  5. Wow, never really thought of Cream of Wheat as an ingredient in recipes, but I suppose if one can make a Coca Cola cake, there's a recipe for every ingredient. Fascinating that top illustrators were hired for advertising - I'm a huge NC Wyeth fan.

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  6. I loved Cream of Wheat as a child. Not too long ago I tried it again, trying to recapture one of those moments from my youth. Yeah, that didn't work. I do keep it on hand though as I have a number of recipes that do call for it as an ingredient.

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  7. I love this post Louise is fun and interesting. Louise Im think what make to your party, I can make anything of the Octubre celebrations?? I have to choose, xxgloria

    last night I was seeing ton of cook books!

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  8. I *STILL* love Cream of Wheat. Grits, oatmeal... I'm a sucker for warm mush for breakfast.

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  9. My x husband introduced me to cream of wheat & I loved it. But I didn't love it as much as he did. When he was in Korea (military) yearssss ago- I would have to mail him boxes of cream of wheat. I couldn't find it anywhere in Florida where I lived so I had to get it mailed to me from up north. Then mail it to Korea. LOL! Oh the memories you just made me remember. giggle~

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  10. What a great post, and I must find the Lil Abner Cream of Wheat Cookbook. It's funny, too, because yesterday I had to go to the store for my mother for Cream of Wheat. She wasn't feeling well, and it's one of her comfortable foods.

    BTW, Al Capp was my mother's cousin. :-)

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  11. Been a busy month so far, and it's only the first week! I'll be prepping my cookbook party submission soon!

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  12. That's awesome! Lil' Abner and Cream of Wheat, who'd have thought?

    We eat a lot of cracked wheat, cream of wheat, grits, and oatmeal when the weather gets cool...I'll have try some of those recipes for leftovers!

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  13. Glad you enjoyed it, Sonia.

    Cream of Wheat isn't as healthy as Oatmeal, kitchen flavours. It's a creamy porridge as compared to oatmeal which has more texture.

    Can't go wrong with Lil' Abner, now can we, Tina?

    The only reason why I've even considered Cream of Wheat as an ingredient is because I've seen it used in many of the vintage cookbooks I have, T.W.

    I still eat Cream of Wheat and I think you're right, Patti. It isn't quite the same. I imagine the processing has changed. It does work well as an ingredient though. Farina dumplings are right up there with Matzoh Balls!!!

    Take your time, Gloria. I know how difficult it can be with oh so many choices.

    That's two in a row, Channon. I'm delighted!

    Now that's quite a story, Pam.

    So glad you liked it Janet. Good luck finding the book, I've been searching for another for years.

    You take your time, Yummy. I'm sure it will look delicious!

    Now there's an idea, Jesse. Cream of Wheat is very versatile.

    Well, you go right ahead, duckie. If you say it's good then I'm convinced!!!

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  14. Cream of wheat is very delicious and healthy! I always keep a packet of farine in my cupboard...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  15. Marion and I try to have Cream of Wheat at least once a week, Rosa. It's welcome change from Oatmeal:)

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  16. I still love Cream of Wheat, although as a kid we ate, Wheat Hearts. Can't find that anymore, so I eat Cream of Wheat, just as good. I also think that burger sounds pretty good. Enjoyed reading this post.

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Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise