Please Explain: Breakfast Cereal

Friday, September 10, 2010

Today’s Please Explain is all about breakfast cereal. Food historian Andy Smith, the author of Eating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, among other books, joins us along with Edwin Chavey, aka Mr. Breakfast, director of the Mr. Breakfast Website and "The Cereal Project," a database of 1,200 cereals made in the United States, to explain what cereals are made of, how truthful health claims made about some are, and how there got to be so many varieties.


Edwin Chavey and Andy Smith

Comments [28]

e.b. stern from new york city

program was non-educational and only served to promote sugared cereals. no one read ALL the (junk) ingredients from any cereal box or explained what they were doing in cereal and how they likely cut the cost of manufacturing. no one suggested buying a nonsugared cereal (what even are their names?) and adding your own fruit, raisins and sugar to taste.

Sep. 11 2010 07:05 PM
Mark from Mount Vernon

Radio nutritionist, Ronald Hoffman, MD, says for optimum health benefits (lowering cholesterol and keeping your system flowing) buy Old Fashioned Oats. Quick Oats are highly processed.

Sep. 11 2010 10:10 AM
Michael Zullo from Vacationing in Rome, Italy

Great interview Leonard. We are in Rome, Italy on vacation. We listened to your interview . It was fun. Surprisingly, we have Fiber One for breakfast but you can't get it in Rome. All the supermarcato's carry only Kellogg's. So, I picked up a box of Rice Crispies this morning. Michael Zullo, Upper Eastside, Manhattan

Sep. 11 2010 08:50 AM
Greg Witkowski from Greenpoint

What happened to Kellogg's Concetrate cereal. I It was in a small gold box, contained 40% protein, 10 Vits & minerals. Tasted great. Why would they discontinue such a fine weath germ based cereal?
I used to snack on it out of a Dixie cup while studying.

Sep. 10 2010 02:03 PM
S Block

Something that doesn't sound good but turns out to be delicious, bowls of dry cereal with OJ poured on. Blows the water version out of the... water!

as an aside, could radio announcers please stop saying wikApedia. It's wikEEpedia, it's a wiki, not a wicca.

Sep. 10 2010 01:58 PM

The mammals who prefer to eat the box rather than the cereals within them are not stupid. They know what's good for them, and what isn't. Excessively carb-rich foods that will make them too heavy and slow them down, and give them health problems, are instinctively rejected.

Sep. 10 2010 01:58 PM

Apple juice, Rice, Almond, and Soy milk are also great with cereal. Hot or cold.

Sep. 10 2010 01:56 PM
Jamison from fort green

Why is it so expensive?!

Sep. 10 2010 01:55 PM
donna from brooklyn

In India I came across mango-flavored cornflakes. Delicious!

Sep. 10 2010 01:54 PM

What is the difference in nutritional value between quick oats (heats up in 1 minute) and slower cooked oats.

Sep. 10 2010 01:54 PM
donna from brooklyn

In India I came across mango-flavored cornflakes. Delicious!

Sep. 10 2010 01:53 PM
Ken from Soho

When I was young, I once conducted a taste test of a breakfast cereal on an elephant. We lived near the Bronx Zoo, and I took something along to feed the animals - an opened box of corn flakes. A hole in the bottom of the box was filled in with a piece of linoleum. At the zoo, we walked into the elephant house, and I held out my box of corn flakes to an elephant. He grabbed the box from my hands with his trunk, turned it over to dump out all the corn flakes, and proceeded to eat the cardboard box and linoleum. While this "taste test" was unplanned, it confirmed my opinion of corn flakes, and perhaps the elephant's need for more fiber in his diet.

Sep. 10 2010 01:53 PM
Eva Vauchee

Re cerals: Kashi Strawberry Fields is delicious, stays crunchy thruout the eating!

Sep. 10 2010 01:52 PM
Patrishable from Somers, NY

I have always enjoyed listening to you report on serious matters like the Supreme Court or other government issues. But this is THE BEST! You talking about breakfast cereal. Cracking me up! Thanks for not taking yourself so seriously so you could do this. Good for you!

A Shredded Wheat and Whole Wheat Raisin Bread Fan

Sep. 10 2010 01:52 PM
Ken from Upper West Side

What's the qualitative difference between one-minute vs. three-minute vs. longer-cooking oatmeal?

Sep. 10 2010 01:52 PM

What I eat - Kashi 7 whole grain Puffs -- 0% salt, 0% fat, some fiber. Also Pecan Splendor granola -- no sugar. In winter hot oatmeal -- either rolled or cut depending on how much time I have (never instant). Less sugar is always better.

Sep. 10 2010 01:52 PM
Connie from nj

I love this segment. It's like 3 guys sitting behind you on the bus talking about their favorite cereals.

Sep. 10 2010 01:50 PM

Shredded Wheat and Bran. No sugar at all, great with fruit!

Sep. 10 2010 01:49 PM

Can you please comment on Dr. Bircher's Muesli recipe? I can get addicted to that cold morning concoction but it can be high in calories with the yogurt, fruit, nuts, etc.

Sep. 10 2010 01:49 PM
james andrea from Union City, NJ

In Canada all packaging is bi-lingual, English/French; the back of the Rice Crispies had some adventure of the three elves, "Snap, Crackle and Pop" whose names in French were "Cric, Crac & Croc."


Sep. 10 2010 01:46 PM

this segment is funnier than the one with the "humorist"

Sep. 10 2010 01:44 PM
David Goldbeck from Woodstock, NY

I'm dissaponted that my book "The Good Breakfast Book" is not on Mr Breakfast's book list.Lots of healthy ideas. Find it at

Sep. 10 2010 01:42 PM
Shawn from Brooklyn

What was the first breakfast cereal to offer prizes or toys in their boxes?

Sep. 10 2010 01:34 PM
Tim from Queens

I keep waiting for the shoe to drop and this segment is revealed as a joke. How is Toobin keeping a straight face doing this ridiculous interview. It should have been titled "Two men with nothing to do" Watch The Road to Wellville"

Sep. 10 2010 01:33 PM

I love weetabix!

But I read that some rats were given extruded (as opposed to prepared like oatmeal) cereal and some were fed cereal boxes and the ones who ate the boxes fared better than those eating extruded cereals.

Celts ate oats with cod livers in the hebrides

Sep. 10 2010 01:33 PM

There was no such thing as a fat human until the "agricultural revolution," when initially female humans learned through trial and error to plant and grow carbohydrates in the form of wheat, rice and other carb-rich cereals while their men were out hunting for protein. Then we begin to see archaeological artifacts of rather chubby female goddesses begin to appear. The concept of a fat human was so bizarre as to be seen as virtually divine. Processed carbs in the form of breakfast cereals became an American cultural icon, like blue jean denims.

Sep. 10 2010 01:33 PM

RJ --

When I was living in Japan, I got used to fish soup and rice with tea for breakfast. Often there was natto, which is fermented soybeans. Don't ask. Leftovers from the night before is also common.

Sep. 10 2010 01:29 PM
RJ from Short Hills, NJ

This concept of eating sweetened breakfast, pancakes/syrup, sweetened cereal, French toast, even hot cereals which are sweetened, is not a concept we grew up with in India. I still prefer traditional Indian breakfast, but If i am not wrong, this preference for sugar rather than salt in the morning, is fairly new even in the west, Please explain, how this happened. Is it mostly due to cereal companies trying to sell their products as healthfood, or Has FDA got anything to do with this.

Sep. 10 2010 09:24 AM

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