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Henry Drushel Perky (December 7, 1843 – June 29, 1906) was a lawyer, businessman, promoter and inventor. Perky is the inventor of shredded wheat.
He was born in Saltcreek township, Holmes County, Ohio, the fifth son of Daniel Jefferson Perky (ca. 1808–1862) and Magdalena Drushel (ca. 1812–1911), both of Pennsylvania. He married his wife Susanna Melissa Crow (1845–?) on August 3, 1865 in Mount Hope, Ohio. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in Nebraska. He was elected to the Nebraska State Senate in 1868 when only twenty-five years old (although other sources suggest he represented the eighth district from 1874 to 1876). The couple lived at Omaha, Nebraska and Wahoo, Nebraska before 1880. Henry went to Colorado for his health in 1880 where he was an attorney for the Union Pacific Railroad. Sue followed from Wahoo later that same year and, in Denver, Colorado, she gave birth to their only surviving child, Scott Henry Perky (1880–?).
Scott H. Perky went on to be a writer; the life of his father was the subject of one of his books. In 1920, he developed a round shredded wheat cereal, which he named Muffets. The Muffets Corporation was sold to the Quaker Oats Company in 1927.
Perky was a vegetarian.
In 1884, the assets – a patent and a half-finished car – of the bankrupt Robbins Cylindrical Steel Car Company were acquired by Byron A. Atkinson (1854-19?? ), a well-to-do Boston furniture dealer with some background as a machinist. To promote his cylindrical steel rail passenger car, Atkinson hired Henry Perky, who had quite a reputation for making money during times that ruined other businessmen. Their firm was the Steel Car Company.
While the railcar was being built, Perky was busy trying to find a place to build a huge plant for building steel cars. He first proposed Chicago, Illinois, but when this did not generate significant interest, in 1888 he proposed Lincoln, Nebraska, and there the car would be named the "City of Lincoln". This idea too failed to catch on, so Perky moved on.
Perky finally found backing in St. Joseph, Missouri and there, in late 1888, at a cost of some $70,000, he erected a building on a large plot of land east of the city "beyond Wyatt Park". He also organized an exposition, to be called the National Railway, Electric and Industrial Exposition, but more popularly known as the "New Era Exposition". The exposition was set up on the grounds of the Steel Car Company, with the western portion of its building as the main hall of the exposition.
On the night of September 15, 1889 a fire swept through the main building of the exposition. The ten cars being built, the Steel Car Company plant, and all the assets of the Steel Car Company were a total loss. Perky, not one to be easily discouraged, took the original Robbins car (that had been outfitted as a private car for Atkinson's personal use) for a transcontinental tour. Though it attracted a good deal of attention, it attracted no orders.
The cylindrical car was shown at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois, but again attracted no orders. Although almost $40,000 had been spent on it, when the exposition closed, the railcar was abandoned on the fairgrounds and later sold by the firm that dismantled the Exposition.
Sometime in the early 1890s, at a Nebraska hotel, Perky – who suffered from diarrhea – encountered a man similarly afflicted, who was eating boiled wheat with cream. The idea cooked for a while in Perky's mind, and in 1892, he took his idea of a product made of boiled wheat to his friend, William H. Ford, in Watertown, New York — a machinist by trade. Here they developed the machine for making what Perky called "little whole wheat mattresses", known worldwide as shredded wheat. They presented the machine at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, probably while Perky was trying to drum up buyers for his cylindrical steel rail passenger car.
His original intention was to sell the machines, not the biscuits. He returned to Denver and began distributing the biscuits from a horse-drawn wagon in an attempt to popularize the idea. There he founded the Cereal Machine Company. In 1895, Perky received United States Patent Number 548,086, dated October 15, 1895.
The biscuits proved more popular than the machines, so Perky moved East and opened his first bakery in Boston, Massachusetts and then in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1895, retaining the name of The Cereal Machine Company, and adding the name of the Shredded Wheat Company.
Whether he developed his ideas on nutrition before the machine or after, Perky was a food faddist who believed the fundamental issue was how to nourish a man so that his condition will be natural. Although John Harvey Kellogg and Charles William Post are better known, Perky was a pioneer of the "cookless breakfast food" and it was he who first mass-produced and nationally distributed ready-to-eat cereal. By 1898, shredded wheat was being sold all over North and South America and Europe.
In 1901, drawn by the idea of inexpensive electrical power for baking, and the natural draw of a popular tourist attraction, he hired Edward A. Deeds to build a new plant at Niagara Falls, New York. Deeds became a director of the National Food Company. Perky invited a large number of notables to a special luncheon. Canadian author Pierre Berton describes the bill of fare: "...a Shredded Wheat drink, Shredded Wheat biscuit toast, roast turkey stuffed with Shredded Wheat, and Shredded Wheat ice cream". The factory itself was called the "Palace of Light", and was white-tiled, air-conditioned, well-lit with floor to ceiling windows, and equipped with showers, lunchrooms (a free lunch for women – men had to pay 10¢), and auditoriums for the employees. It even had a roof garden with a view of the falls. A representation of the factory appeared on the Shredded Wheat boxes for decades.
In 1902, Perky retired from the company and disposed of his interest. He published a book on nutrition and oral hygiene, Wisdom vs. Foolishness, that went through at least ten editions. Having made his fortune, the following year Perky arrived in Glencoe, Maryland and began purchasing large tracts of land in the region. His dream was to build a boarding school for men and women that would offer an innovative curriculum of scientific farming and domestic science subjects free of tuition. The main building was completed, elaborate brochures were printed and a few students had enrolled. The plans for the dedication were in place when Perky died days before the grand opening and the Oread School never opened.
Henry D. Perky died on June 29, 1906 at his farm in Glencoe. His obituary stated that he had been ill for a long time and that a fall from a horse a month earlier had hastened his death. He is buried in Glencoe, Maryland.
In 1908, the company again took the name of the Shredded Wheat Company, and another factory was built in Niagara Falls. A third plant was added in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1904, known as the Canadian Shredded Wheat Company. By 1915 the Pacific Coast Shredded Wheat Company had been added in Oakland, California, and by 1925, a factory in Britain, in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, had joined the family.
In December 1928, the company was sold to the National Biscuit Company. The product name changed to Nabisco Shredded Wheat around 1941. Production of Shredded Wheat was begun in Naperville, Illinois in 1970. All the other plants remained in operation, until 1954, when the original "Palace of Light" was shut down.
Breakfast cereal is a traditional breakfast food made from processed cereal grains, primarily in Western societies. Warm cereals like porridge and grits have the longest history. Ready-to-eat cold cereals, appearing around the late 19th century, are most often mixed with milk, but can also be paired with yogurt instead or eaten plain. Fruit or nuts are sometimes added. Many breakfast cereals are produced via extrusion. Some companies promote their products for the health benefits that come from eating oat-based and high-fiber cereals. In the United States, cereals are often fortified with vitamins but can still lack many of the vitamins needed for a healthy breakfast. A significant proportion of cereals are made with high sugar content. Many are marketed towards children, feature a cartoon mascot, and may contain a toy or prize.
Corn flakes, or cornflakes, is a breakfast cereal made by toasting flakes of corn (maize). The cereal was created by William Kellogg in 1894 for his brother John Kellogg. John Kellogg wanted a food that would be healthy for the patients of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan where he was superintendent. The breakfast cereal proved popular among the patients, but Will Kellogg wanted to add sugar to increase the popularity. John Kellogg did not approve of this, so Will Kellogg started his own company Kellogg Company to produce corn flakes for the wider public. A patent for the process was granted in 1896, after a legal battle between the two brothers.
Nabisco is an American manufacturer of cookies and snacks headquartered in East Hanover, New Jersey. The company is a subsidiary of Illinois-based Mondelēz International. Nabisco's plant in Chicago, a 1,800,000-square-foot (170,000 m2) production facility at 7300 S. Kedzie Avenue, is the largest bakery in the world, employing more than 1,200 workers and producing around 320 million pounds of snack foods annually.
Weetabix Ltd., trading under the name Weetabix Food Company and commonly referred to as simply Weetabix, is a food processing company that is responsible for the production of breakfast cereal brands, including Weetabix, Alpen, and Ready Brek. The company also produces Puffins cereal and Snackimals snacks through their Barbara's Bakery division.
A digestive biscuit, sometimes described as a sweet-meal biscuit, is a semi-sweet biscuit that originated in Scotland, and is popular worldwide. The digestive was first developed in 1839 by two Scottish doctors to aid digestion. The term "digestive" is derived from the belief that they had antacid properties due to the use of sodium bicarbonate when they were first developed. Historically, some producers used diastatic malt extract to "digest" some of the starch that existed in flour prior to baking.
Weet-Bix is a high-fibre and low-sugar breakfast cereal biscuit manufactured in Australia and New Zealand by the Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company, and in South Africa by Bokomo.
Nutri-Grain is a brand of breakfast cereal and breakfast bar made by the Kellogg Company.
The Kellogg Company, doing business as Kellogg's, is an American multinational food manufacturing company headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States. Kellogg's produces cereal and convenience foods, including crackers and toaster pastries and markets their products by several well known brands including Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Pringles, Eggo, and Cheez-It. Kellogg's mission statement is "Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive."
Rice Krispies is a breakfast cereal marketed by Kellogg's in 1927 and released to the public in 1928. Rice Krispies are made of crisped rice, and expand forming very thin and hollowed out walls that are crunchy and crisp. When milk is added to the cereal the walls tend to collapse, creating the "Snap, crackle and pop" sounds.
Triscuit is the brand name for snack crackers, made by Nabisco, which take the form of square baked whole wheat wafers. They were invented in 1900, a patent was granted in 1902, and the Shredded Wheat Company in Niagara Falls, New York, began production the next year.
Post Consumer Brands is an American consumer cereal manufacturer that makes Honey Bunches of Oats, Pebbles, Great Grains, Post Shredded Wheat, Post Raisin Bran, Grape-Nuts, Honeycomb, Frosted Mini Spooners, Golden Puffs, Oh's, Cinnamon Toasters, Fruity Dyno-Bites, Cocoa Dyno-Bites, Berry Colossal Crunch and Malt-O-Meal hot wheat cereal.
Chex is a brand of breakfast cereal currently manufactured by General Mills. It was introduced in 1937 and was originally produced and owned by Ralston Purina of St. Louis, Missouri. The name "Chex" reflects the "checkerboard square" logo of Ralston Purina. The Chex product line was part of the Ralston portion of Ralston Purina, which was spun into Ralcorp in 1994. The product line was sold to General Mills in 1997. For many years, advertisements for the cereal featured the characters from Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip.
Uncle Tobys is a manufacturer of breakfast cereals and snack items in Australia and New Zealand. The company was established in the late 19th century and is now a subsidiary of Nestlé. Its main factory is in the town of Wahgunyah, Victoria.
Shredded wheat is a breakfast cereal made from whole wheat formed into pillow-shaped biscuits. It is commonly available in three sizes: bite-sized, miniature, 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 center, or apricot, blueberry, raspberry or cranberry filling.
Henry Alonzo House was an American inventor who developed machinery and processes that have had a lasting impact on several industries.
Weetabix is a whole grain wheat breakfast cereal produced by Weetabix Limited in the United Kingdom. It comes in the form of palm-sized rounded rectangle-shaped biscuits. Variants include organic and Weetabix Minis (bite-sized) versions. The UK cereal is manufactured in Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, and exported to over 80 countries. Weetabix for Canada and the United States is manufactured in Cobourg, Ontario, in both organic and conventional versions.
Charles Franklin Schnabel (1895-1974) was an American agricultural chemist who became known as the father of wheatgrass. Dr. Schnabel opened the door to scientific research on cereal grass. After Schnabel's initial work in the mid 1920s that showed chickens nearly tripled their winter egg production when a small amount of cereal grass was added to their diet, he went on to find benefits with nearly every kind of livestock. His research documented larger litters, richer milk, more milk, less infant mortality, better fur and improved general health when a small amount of dehydrated cereal grass was added to the animal's food ration. In 1970, he accurately predicted, due to its climate similar to Johannesburg that, "San Diego will be the wheat grass capital of the United States."
Kellogg Co. v. National Biscuit Co., 305 U.S. 111 (1938), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that the Kellogg Company was not violating any trademark or unfair competition laws when it manufactured its own Shredded Wheat breakfast cereal, which had originally been invented by the National Biscuit Company. Kellogg's version of the product was of an essentially identical shape, and was also marketed as "Shredded Wheat"; but Nabisco's patents had expired, and its trademark application for the term "Shredded Wheat" had been turned down as a descriptive, non-trademarkable term.
Spratt's was the world's first large-scale manufacturer of dog biscuits. Its "Meat Fibrine Dog Cake" was the brainchild of American entrepreneur James Spratt who launched the biscuit in London circa 1860. The company began operations in the United States of America in the 1870s and, after Spratt's death in 1880, the company went public and became known as Spratt's Patent, Limited, and Spratt's Patent (America) Limited. Spratt's pioneered the concept of animal life stages with appropriate foods for each stage. The company successfully promoted their array of products for dogs and other domestic animals through the astute use of snob appeal. The company was the first to erect a billboard in London. Varieties of biscuits included 'Dog Cakes', puppy biscuits in regular and with cod liver oil, 'Malt-milk' for puppies, 'Weetmeet', 'Bonio', 'Spix', 'Ovals' in regular and mixed varieties, 'Fibo' granulated kibble food, 'Rodnim' hound meal, Alsax, Speedall, as well as a tinned food variety.
A baking mix is a pre-mixed formulation of ingredients used for the cooking of baked goods. Baking mixes may be commercially manufactured or homemade. Baking mixes that cater to particular dietary needs, such as gluten-free baking mixes or kosher baking mixes, can be bought in many places.