Breakfast wasn’t regarded as the most important meal of the day until an aggressive marketing campaign by General Mills in 1944. They would hand out leaflets to grocery store shoppers urging them to eat breakfast, while similar ads would play on the radio.

Why Cereal Has Such Aggressive Marketing

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Before the invention of cereal, breakfast was not as standard or routine as it is now. “The Romans believed it was healthier to eat only one meal a day,” food historian Caroline Yeldham has said. Many Native Americans, Abigail Carroll writes in The Invention of the American Meal, ate bits of food throughout the day (rather than at set meals) and sometimes fasted for days at a time.

Of medieval Europe, historians alternatingly write that breakfast was only a luxury for the rich, only a necessity for laborers, or mostly skipped. And while many American colonists ate breakfast, it was a reputedly harried affair that took place after hours of morning work.

Historians tend to agree that breakfast became a daily, first-th… Continue Reading