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breakfast cereal

grain food, usually pre-cooked or ready-to-eat, that is customarily eaten with milk or cream for breakfast in the United States and elsewhere, often sweetened with sugar, syrup, or fruit. The modern commercial concept of cereal food originated in the vegetarian beliefs of the American Seventh-day Adventists, who in the 1860s formed the Western Health Reform Institute, later renamed the Battle Creek Sanitarium, in Battle Creek, Mich. The entrepreneurial possibilities of the ground, thin-baked cereal dough served to the Sanitarium's patients inspired two men, C.W. Post and W.K. Kellogg, each to found his own business. In the late 20th century the ready-to-eat breakfast cereal industry sold the equivalent of several billion bowls of cereal to Americans yearly, having far surpassed the market for the traditional "hot" cereals made from rolled oatmeal or enriched wheat farina.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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