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Product typePrepared cereal for human consumption
OwnerPost Consumer Brands
CountryUnited States
Introduced1897; 122 years ago (1897)
Previous ownersPostum Cereal Company
General Foods
Kraft General Foods
Kraft Foods

Grape-Nuts is a breakfast cereal developed in 1897 by C. W. Post, a former patient and later competitor of the 19th-century breakfast food innovator, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg. The cereal originally prepared by C. W. Post when developing the product was a batter that came from the oven as a rigid sheet. He then broke the sheet into pieces and ran them through a coffee grinder to produce the "nut"-sized kernels.


Despite the name, the cereal contains neither grapes nor nuts; it is made with wheat and barley. Post believed that glucose (which he called "grape sugar") formed in the baking process. This, combined with the nutty flavor of the cereal, is said to have inspired its name. Another explanation originates from employees at Post, who claim that the cereal got its name due to a resemblance to grape seeds, or grape "nuts".[citation needed]


Grape-Nuts ad, 1900

Grape-Nuts was initially marketed as a natural cereal that could enhance health and vitality, and as a "food for brain and nerve centres." [1] Its lightweight and compact nature, nutritional value, and resistance to spoilage made it a popular food for exploration and expedition groups in the 1920s and 1930s. In World War II, Grape-Nuts was a component of the lightweight jungle ration used by some U.S. and Allied Forces in wartime operations before 1944.[2]

A 1939 ad campaign by cartoonist Walter Hoban continued his Jerry on the Job comic strip in Woman's Day magazine and daily newspaper comics pages.[3] General Foods also marketed Grape-Nuts through a comics-style advertising campaign (a trailblazer in this regard) featuring a character named Little Alby, who gained inordinate strength after consuming a bowl of Grape-Nuts.[4]

During the 1940s, comic books from various companies featured one-page comic-strip ads starring Volto from Mars, a finned red helmet-clad alien superhero visiting Earth, who like all Martians, recharged his magnetic powers (his left hand repels, his right attracts) by eating "cereal grains", with him quickly developing a particular fondness for Grape-Nuts Flakes which he proclaimed "the best I ever tasted!"[5]

In the 1960s, advertising promoted Grape-Nuts as the cereal that "fills you up, not out". Brand users, particularly mother/daughter look-alikes, were shown engaged in fitness activities such as tennis, horseback riding, skiing, and swimming. Also appearing during the "fills you up, not out" campaign were Andy Griffith and Don Knotts as the characters from The Andy Griffith Show, Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife.

This ad campaign produced one television commercial, which aired on television in 1968, that featured a catchphrase that became a target for numerous sketches and satires in media. Spanning the ensuing two decades and beyond, "Oh no, Mrs. Burke! I thought you were Dale!" was parodied on television variety show sketches, in the film The Kentucky Fried Movie and in many Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, fans continue to discuss the origin of this "riff" and have even developed products that feature the text, "I thought you were Dale."

A subsequent ad campaign generated another catchphrase, as Euell Gibbons became the spokesperson for the brand, promoting Grape-Nuts as the "Back to Nature Cereal". The line "Ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible" drew attention to the product from consumers, as well as from comedians.[citation needed]

Grape-Nuts is credited as the first widespread product to use a coupon in sales promotion when C.W. Post Company offered a penny-off coupon to get people to try their cereal in the late 1890s.[citation needed]

Until recent years, Grape-Nuts packaging set it apart from other cereals, in that no sealed film bag was used. It was sold in the usual "tombstone" cardboard box; rather than featuring lightly glued flaps at the top which could be separated to open the top face completely, perforations could be broken to form a small opening for pouring, near the intersection of one of the narrow side faces and the top surface.

At one time, Grape-Nuts was the seventh-most popular cold breakfast cereal, but sales declined as Post was sold from one company to another. Around 2005, it held less than 1% of the market. About this time, the formula was changed; the husks from milled grain were ground into the flour and the cereal was pitched as "whole grain", albeit at the cost of roughening the cereal's texture and detracting significantly from mouth feel.[citation needed] The addition of vitamins and minerals allowed it to qualify for food-stamp programs.[6]


Modern-day Grape-Nuts contain whole grain wheat flour, malted barley flour, salt, and dried yeast as ingredients.

Ice cream[edit]

Grape-Nut ice cream

Grape-Nut ice cream is a popular regional dish in the Canadian Maritimes, the Shenandoah Valley, Jamaica, and New England. One origin story is that it was created by chef Hannah Young at The Palms restaurant in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, in 1919. She created it when she ran out of fresh fruit to add to ice cream, and decided to throw in some cereal. It proved popular at the restaurant and the Scotsburn Dairy company began mass-producing the ice cream variety, and it sold across the region.[7] Variations of ice cream with Grape Nuts are also called brown bread ice cream.[citation needed] Other flavours with cereal include hazelnut syrup, chocolate, varieties of chocolate chips, mint, and other fresh flavors.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New York Historical Society". Retrieved 18 March 2015.
  2. ^ Kearny, Cresson H. (Major), Jungle Snafus...And Remedies, Oregon Institute (1996), pp. 290–291
  3. ^ "Gallery of Graphic Design". Retrieved 12 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Funny Business: The Rise and Fall of Johnstone and Cushing," Hogan's Alley, 1999
  5. ^ Zeno, Eddy, Al Plastino: Last Superman Standing, TwoMorrows Publishing (2016), pp. 31
  6. ^ Newman, B., Wall Street Journal, June 1, 2009
  7. ^ "Ice cream company scoops grapenut ice cream from Hannah Young." Hantsport News and Views. July 2010, pg. 12


  • Jones, Evan (1981) American Food: The Gastronomic Story, Random House, Inc. ISBN 0-394-74646-5

External links[edit]