History of Quaker Oats
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In the 1850s, Ferdinand Schumacher and Robert Stuart founded oat mills. Schumacher founded the German American Cereal Company, in Akron, Ohio and Stuart founded the North Star Mills in Ontario, Canada. In 1870, Shumacher ran his first known cereal advertisement in the Akron Beacon Journal newspaper. In Ravenna, Ohio, on 4 September 1877, the first trademark for a breakfast cereal, "a man in 'Quaker garb'", was applied for by Henry Seymour, owner of the Quaker Mill Company.
In 1879, John Stuart and his brother Robert, joined with George Douglas to form Imperial Mill and set up shop in Chicago, Illinois. In 1881, Henry Crowell bought the Quaker Mill Company, and in the following year he launched a national advertising campaign for Quaker Oats. In 1885, Quaker Oats introduced the cereal box, making it possible to buy in quantities other than bulk. In 1888, The American Cereal Company was formed by the merger of 7 major oat millers. Ferdinand Schumacher was made President, Henry Crowell, General Manager and John Stuart the Secretary Treasurer. In 1889, the American Cereal Company introduced the 1/2 oz. trial size and, as a promotion, they distributed one to every home in Portland, Oregon using boys on bicycles. Later, this promotion was extended to other cities. A second promotion involved placing dinner plates from a very desirable selection within the then regular (not round) boxes of oats.
1901 saw the formation of the Quaker Oats Company in New Jersey, with its headquarters in Chicago. Quaker introduced the first in a series of cookie recipes on the box in 1908. In 1911, Quaker purchased the Great Western Cereal Company. The iconic round box made its first appearance in 1915. Later that year, Quaker offered the first cereal box premium to buyers. By sending in one dollar and the cut out picture of the "Quaker Man" customers received a double boiler for the cooking of oatmeal.
In the 1920s, Quaker offered a crystal radio and introduced "Quaker Quick Oats" an early convenience food. In the 1930s, Quaker was one of the many companies using the Dionne Quintuplets for promotional purposes. During the Second World War, FDA head Herbert Hoover promotes oats to the public in order to preserve wheat for use in the war effort.
In 1946, artist Jim Nash was commissioned to produce a head portrait of the Quaker Man, which became the basis for Haddon Sundblom's famous version of 1957. In 1972, John Mills designed the current logo.
In 1969, Quaker acquired Fisher-Price, a toy company. In the 1970s, the company financed the making of the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, in return obtaining a license to use a number of the product names mentioned in the movie for candy bars. In 1991, Quaker Oats spun off its Fisher-Price division.
In August 2001, PepsiCo acquired Quaker Oats, primarily for its Gatorade brand of soft drink. The merger created the fourth-largest consumer goods company in the world. Though the main prize of PepsiCo was Gatorade non-carbonated sports drink, Quaker's cereal and snack food division complemented the existing Frito-Lay salty-snacks division.
Since the late 1980s, actor Wilford Brimley has appeared in television commercials extolling the virtues of oat consumption, typically to a young child, as to introduce the concept of oatmeal consumption as a long tradition. In the 1990s Nickelodeon animated children's show Rugrats, the biggest fear of one of the characters, Chuckie Finster (the scaredycat of the bunch), was "the man on the oatmeal box". In Rugrats in Paris: The Movie, Chuckie overcame this fear when he became Chuckie Chan. The song lyrics to his transformation included the line "He can stare into the eye/of the oatmeal guy!".