Shredded wheat is a breakfast cereal made from whole wheat. As of January 2010, it was available in three sizes — bite sized (¾×1 in), miniature (nearly half the size of the bite-sized pieces), and original. Both smaller sizes are available in a frosted variety, which has one side coated with sugar and usually gelatin. Some manufacturers have produced "filled" versions of the bite-size cereal containing a raisin at the centre, or apricot, blueberry, raspberry or cranberry filling.
In the United States, shredded wheat is 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. Kellogg's sells eight varieties of miniature, or bite-sized, shredded wheat cereal. Natural and organic manufacturer Barbara's Bakery makes an all-natural version of shredded wheat. In the United Kingdom, the Shredded Wheat brand is owned by Cereal Partners, a Nestlé/General Mills company, although there are many generic versions and variants by different names. It was first made in the United States in 1893, while UK production began in 1926.
Henry Perky invented shredded wheat cereal in 1893. The wheat is first cooked in water until its moisture content reaches about 50%. It is then tempered, allowing moisture to diffuse evenly into the grain. The grain then passes through a set of rollers with grooves in one side, yielding a web of shredded wheat strands. Many webs are stacked together, and this moist stack of strands is crimped at regular intervals to produce individual pieces of cereal with the strands attached at each end. These then go into an oven, where they are baked until their moisture content is reduced to 5%. The Natural Food Company was based at Niagara Falls, New York in 1901. It became the Shredded Wheat Company in 1904. It was bought by Nabisco (National Biscuit Company) in December 1928. United States production moved to Naperville, Illinois in 1954, where it is still made. In 1993, Nabisco sold the brand to Kraft General Foods, but it was still under the Nabisco name until 1999, whereupon it was sold under the slogan "Nabisco brought to you by Post". Canadian production has been at Niagara Falls, Ontario, since 1904 due to nearby hydro-electric power. United States production is also at Niagara Falls, Ontario. Until recently, United States production took place in Niagara Falls, New York, but that factory was closed when production was consolidated on the Canadian side of the border.
In 1920, Henry Perky's son, Scott Henry Perky, developed a round shredded wheat cereal, which he named Muffets. The Muffets Corporation was sold to the Quaker Oats Company in 1927. The cereal is still marketed in Canada as Muffets, but in the U.S. is now sold as Quaker Shredded Wheat.
The original company opened a factory in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire in 1926 at which time Welgar was its registered trade mark, which became part of Nabisco in 1928. The tall concrete cereal silos that form part of the factory are a local landmark and are listed structures. The first 18 storage units were completed in 1926 with a further 27 constructed in 1938, in both instances they were built by Peter Lind & Company of London who continue in business today. In 1988, Nabisco sold the UK site to Rank Hovis McDougall (who made own-label cereals for supermarkets), whose breakfast cereals division briefly became the Shredded Wheat Company. In 1990, RHM sold the site to Cereal Partners. Now, all Shredded Wheat is made at Staverton, Wiltshire near Bath, Somerset, as the Welwyn Garden City site was shut down in 2008. Also, "Bitesize", "Fruitful" and "Honey Nut" Shredded Wheat are made in the UK.
Shredded Wheat has a particular place in UK popular culture due to a long-running television advertising campaign. The campaign in the 1970s featured a song with the lyrics:
- "There are two men in my life,
- To one I am a mother,
- To the other I'm a wife,
- And I give them both the best
- With natural Shredded Wheat"
The Three Shredded Wheat advertisement suggested that the cereal was so nourishing that it was impossible to eat three. Even a black hole was shown as exploding when the third biscuit was sucked into it. Phrases such as I bet you can't eat three and He must have eaten three were in common use as humorous remarks in the 1970s and 1980s, with celebrities such as Brian Clough, Peter Shilton, Richard Kiel and Ian Botham all 'unable' to eat three. A later UK poster advertisement for Carling Black Label showed a bowl with four Shredded Wheat and the caption "I bet he drinks Carling Black Label".
Trademark of the term "Shredded Wheat"
In the United States Supreme Court case Kellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co. (1938), National Biscuit Co. sued Kellogg, attempting to enjoin Kellogg from using Shredded Wheat as a trade name and from manufacturing the cereal in its pillow-shaped form. 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.
Serving and nutrition
- Frosted Mini-Wheats, a brand of frosted shredded wheat
- Raisin Wheats, a brand of filled shredded wheat
- Weetabix, another wheat-based biscuit cereal.
- Butterfield, Richard J: The Industrial Archaeology of the Twentieth Century: The Shredded Wheat Factory at Welwyn Garden City in Industrial Archaeology Review: Volume 16 (1994), page 196 ff.
- "CDP Classic ads - Shredded Wheat (1980 -1981)". Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- UK television advertisement starring Brian Clough and Peter Shilton on Channel 4 22 February 1992
- "Post Shredded Wheat Original Nuturition". Retrieved 10 March 2013.
- Post Shredded Wheat website
- Kellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co., 305 U.S 111 (1938) at Findlaw
- Shredded wheat history chronology
- Closure of Welwyn Garden City plant
- Picture of Welwyn Garden City factory, Feb 2007, at Geograph.org.uk
- Darling Associates project to redevelop Welwyn Garden City factory
- Digital Images related to Shredded Wheat Production in North America Niagara Falls Public Library (Ont.)
- food product design site
- 1905 advertisement