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A Brief History Of Cereal And Milk

Posted by

Dec 17, 2018
A Brief History Of Cereal And Milk

This week's episode of The Sporkful podcast is up! Listen through the player or iTunes/Podcasts app. (And please subscribe!)

Cereal and milk go together like bread and butter ... mac and cheese ... PB and J.

They're an iconic American food couple.

But how many of us know that cereal was invented in a health spa? Or that milk might've killed one of our presidents?


This week on The Sporkful, we’re exploring the history of two foods that have been together a long time: cereal and milk.

First up, New York Times food correspondent Kim Severson (above) helps us trace cereal's journey from a sanitarium (aka health spa) in Michigan in the early 1900s to the sugary monster cereals of the 1970s and 80s.

"You could almost pinpoint when somebody grew up, based on the cereal that they ate," Kim says. "Eating cereal is a super personal thing."

Plus, we learn about the two Kellogg brothers, who invented cereal and helped popularize it -- despite their own tortured relationship. (Howard Markel's recent book, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, tells that story -- check it out!)

And later in the show, Mark Kurlansky, best-selling author of Milk!, explains why milk's popularity is a little weird. You see, mammals are meant to drink their mother's milk early in life. But after that, we lose the ability to digest lactose.

"We [milk drinkers are] mutants," he says. "People who are lactose intolerant are supposed to be."

Listen in to the full episode to hear Mark and Dan's idea for a wild new cheesy breakfast cereal.

Plus, Kim takes Dan's "cereal quiz" -- testing her ability to pair different cereals together to create new desserts.

Interstitial music in this episode by Black Label Music:

- "Mars Casino" by Jake Luck and Collin Weiland

- "Slightly Carbonated" by Erick Anderson

- "New Hot Schtick" by Jack Ventimiglia

- "New Old" by JT Bates

Photos: FlickrCC/frankieleon and courtesy of Kim Severson

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