Postum is a powdered roasted-grain beverage once popular as a coffee substitute. The caffeine-free beverage was created by Postum Cereal Company founder C. W. Post in 1895 and marketed as a healthful alternative to coffee.:93 The Postum Cereal Company eventually became General Foods, which was bought by Kraft Foods. Post was a student of John Harvey Kellogg, who believed that caffeine was unhealthy.
The "instant" drink mix version was developed in 1912, replacing the original brewed beverage. Postum is made from wheat bran, wheat, molasses, and maltodextrin from corn. This 10‑calorie beverage was caffeine-free, fat-free, trans-fat-free, sodium-free, and kosher. In addition to the original flavor, there was a coffee-flavored version.
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Postum quickly became popular, making Post wealthy. The aggressive advertising, with the mysterious slogan "There's a Reason", warned against coffee and caffeine's alleged dangers, and promoted the benefits of Postum. When imitations appeared, the company introduced a cheaper drink, Monk's Brew, identical to Postum, then discontinued it after competitors left the market. Instant Postum appeared in 1911.:93-98
Although the Postum Cereal Company explicitly stated in its advertising that Postum did not taste like coffee and was not a coffee substitute, the drink enjoyed an enormous rise in sales and popularity in the US during World War II when coffee was rationed and people sought a replacement.:223
Postum was sometimes marketed by a cartoon ghost named Mister Coffee Nerves, who would appear in situations wherein people were shown in uncomfortable life-situations (e.g., irritability, lack of sleep, lack of athletic prowess) due to their use of coffee and its negative effects. These cartoons always ended with the afflicted people switching to Postum and Mister Coffee Nerves fleeing until the next cartoon. The company sponsored the radio shows Lum and Abner, Beulah and The Aldrich Family, and the radio version of Father Knows Best.
Postum was popular with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and part of Mormon culture for many years because they abstain from coffee. It was also popular with those following religious dietary restrictions within the Seventh-day Adventists, and has a historic tie with that faith.
Kraft discontinued production of Postum in 2007. In May 2012, Kraft licensed the Postum trademark to Eliza’s Quest Food, with Postum sold through the Postum.com website. As of January 2013, Eliza's Quest Food succeeded in returning Postum to a limited number of stores, primarily in Utah and other Mountain States.
In popular culture
In the January 1992 episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, "The Pez Dispenser" (season 3, episode 14), George Costanza wonders why Postum is not a more popular drink. Jerry agrees that Postum is underrated.
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