​​The History of Granola

                      

Courtesy of the Food Reference Website

 

This "hippie" food of the 60's has a long rich history. First, there is Sylvester Graham (1794-1851) from Pennsylvania, referred to in some books as Dr. Sylvester Graham, an American physician and American nutritionist. He actually studied to be a Presbyterian minister and spent most of his life preaching temperance and nutrition. He was a strong advocate of vegetarianism (often called Grahamism in the 19th century), telling people they should shun meat, alcohol, tobacco, stimulants (coffee, tea) and white bread (bakers and butchers hated him). The mainstay of his dietary recommendation was home-baked bread made from his whole grain wheat flour called, naturally, Graham flour - and soon thereafter developed Graham Crackers.

 

Forward to 1863, to Dr. James C. Jackson of New York. The popularity of spas and hydrotherapy reached its zenith during the 19th century (Jackson was an ardent advocate). He also advocated a healthy diet. He developed what he called "Granula." This was a Graham flour formed into sheets, baked until dry, broken up, baked again, and broken up into even smaller pieces.

 

Move to Battle Creek, Michigan, circa 1850. It is an outpost in the Midwest of various elements of the health movement. In 1855, it becomes the headquarters of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which for religious reasons also advocates temperance, vegetarianism, and a healthy diet. They took over a sanitarium formerly run by followers of Graham in Battle Creek and named it the Western Health Reform Institute (renamed Battle Creek Sanitarium, 1876) and in 1876 the son of prominent Adventist became director - Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. Because of its vegetarian and whole grain emphasis, the diet at the Sanitarium could be monotonous, and so Dr. Kellogg experimented with foods. One of his developments was a breakfast food of whole grains, baked and ground up, which he named, "Granula." He was sued by Dr. Jackson, so he renamed his concoction "Granola!" However, he lost interest in cereals for a while, and turned his attention to nuts, and Granola never became a commercial success. 

 

Charles W. Post spent almost a year as a patient at the Battle Creek Sanitairum in 1891. Not finding the relief he sought, he left, and was soon cured of his health problems by a Christian Science follower (a religious system founded by Mary Baker Eddy). He opened his own health retreat, and in 1898 used Dr. Jackson's basic recipe for Granula to develop Grape Nuts. Because of his marketing abilities, it soon became a success.

 

Kellogg, Post and the American Cereal Co. (Quaker Oats) continued to develop breakfast cereals and, by the middle of the 20th century, most had become sugar-laden concoctions marketed for children. In the 1960s, when the "health food" market revived cereals of natural whole grain ingredients, they were called Granola, and enthusiastically adopted by the "hippie" movement. Most have dried fruit and/or nuts and added sugar or honey for flavor, and crispness and flavor are further enhanced by roasting. 

 

So there you have it -- the history of Granola, paving the way for the crunchiest of Crunchy Mama Granola and all the healthy benefits that come with it.