Shredded Wheat

August 1 Celebrates Shredded Wheat

The next time you pour milk over your shredded wheat cereal.

Did you know that shredded wheat the cereal was patented and invented by Henry Perky on August 1, 1893?

Lawyer and inventor Henry Drushel Perky received US in the United States, which made shredded wheat the most heavily advertised and marketed by Post Foods, which acquired the product in 1993 through its parent company, Kraft Foods, buying it from its long-time producer Nabisco.

Henry Perky invented shredded wheat cereal in Denver, Colorado, in 1890. Inspired by his observation of a dyspeptic diner blending wheat with cream, he developed a method of processing wheat into strips that were formed into pillow-like biscuits.

Perky first sold his shredded wheat cereal to vegetarian restaurants in 1892, distributing it from a factory in Niagara Falls, New York.

One of his wheat-processor buyers, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, admired Perky’s manufacturing process for his shredded wheat cereal.

Kellogg declined to purchase Perky’s patent on it, however, considering it too weak in taste, “like eating a whisk broom.”

However, after co-founding the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company the Kellogg Company cereal manufacturer along with his brother Will Keith Kellogg in 1906, John Kellogg observed the success of Perky’s product and offered to buy its patent from him, but at too low a price to pique Perky’s interest.

What inspired Henry Perky to invent this kind of cereal?

The product which brought Perky the greatest fame, and fortune, was invented because Perky developed digestive problems (probably ulcers) his doctor recommended a diet of raw vegetables and boiled whole wheat grain with cream three times a day, and Perky did his best to follow his doctor’s advice.

Perky found the boiled wheat grain part of the diet less than appealing. Exactly how and when he came up with the idea of shredding the cooked wheat and then baking it is unclear, but in 1892 he took his idea to William Henry Ford, a machinist friend in Watertown, New York, who helped him develop a machine that could shred the wheat and then “weave” it into pillow-shaped “biscuits.”

After Henry Perky died in 1908 and the patent on his Shredded Wheat biscuit expired in 1912, John Harvey Kellogg saw that as an opportunity for Kellogg’s to sell its own version of the product. Kellogg obtained a patent on the biscuit in 1915, and Kellogg’s Shredded Wheat was born.

This provoked National Biscuit Company to sue Kellogg for copyright infringement, attempting to enjoin him from using Shredded Wheat as a trade name and from manufacturing the cereal in its pillow-shaped form. This series of litigations led to the United States Supreme Court case Kellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co. in 1938.

The Supreme Court ruled that shredded wheat was generic and not trademarkable; and that in any case, when the first patent for shredded wheat machinery expired in 1912, the right to apply the name “shredded wheat” to the product passed into the public domain along with that patent.

How’s that for some shredded history?

Written & Designed by JD Mitchell

J.D Mitchell Design Studio


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