Post Consumer Brands, LLC
FormerlyPostum Cereal Company (1895–1929)
General Foods (1929–1990)
Kraft (1990–2007)
Post Cereals (2007–2015)
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryFood processing
Founded1895; 129 years ago (1895) in Battle Creek, Michigan
FounderC. W. Post
HeadquartersLakeville, Minnesota, U.S.
Area served
Worldwide
ProductsBreakfast cereals, granola, pet food, peanut butter
Brands
ParentPost Holdings
Websitepostconsumerbrands.com

Post Consumer Brands (previously Post Cereals and Postum Cereals; also known as simply "Post") is an American consumer packaged goods food manufacturer headquartered in Lakeville, Minnesota.

The company, founded in 1895 by C. W. Post, owns a large portfolio of cereal brands that include Bran Flakes, Honey Bunches of Oats, Golden Crisp, Grape-Nuts, Honeycomb, Oreo O's, Pebbles, and Waffle Crisp, among others. The company also produces several pet food brands, including Rachael Ray Nutrish, Kibbles 'n Bits, and 9Lives, and markets Peter Pan Peanut Butter.

History

C.W. Post, founder

C. W. Post established his company in Battle Creek, Michigan, having lived there since 1891, when he was a patient at a holistic sanitarium operated by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.[1][2] Dr. Kellogg, with his brother W. K. Kellogg, had developed a dry corn flake cereal that was part of their patients' diet. Post's first product, introduced in 1895, was not a cereal, however, but a roasted, cereal-based beverage, Postum. Having developed an aversion to coffee during his time in the sanitarium, Post positioned Postum as a healthy alternative. Its advertising slogan, which he coined himself, was, "There's a Reason." Postum's main ingredients were naturally caffeine-free wheat grain, bran, and molasses. Initially, Postum had to be brewed like coffee, but in 1911, Post introduced a powdered, instant formulation. This version of the product was manufactured in Battle Creek until it was discontinued in 2007. As of January 2013, Eliza's Quest Food had succeeded in returning Postum to many grocery stores across the United States and Canada.

In 1897, Post introduced his first dry cereal, a crunchy blend of wheat and barley, which he called Grape Nuts. His first corn-flake product was introduced as "Elijah's Manna" in 1904. Owing to consumer resistance to the (inaccurate) biblical reference[3] that was so great that even Great Britain flatly refused to register the name as a trademark, it was renamed Post Toasties in 1907.[4]

C. W. Post was an astute businessman who believed that advertising and aggressive marketing were the keys to a successful enterprise. Within 10 years of its incorporation, his Postum Cereal Company had more than $10 million in capital and was spending $400,000 a year on advertising, sums which were remarkable for the period.[5] Although he vigorously opposed labor unions, his employees were the highest-paid in his industry and working conditions at the Post factory were exemplary. He even developed a factory town in which he sold homes to his workers at favorable rates.

Postum Cereal Company lost its founder in 1914. C.W. Post underwent an apparently successful appendectomy at the Mayo Clinic, but shortly after returning home to recuperate, he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Post had for years suffered from bouts of illness and depression. While his death was without warning, his company was not left rudderless. His daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, had been raised in the business and was familiar with virtually every aspect of its operations.[6] She assumed control of the now $20-million Postum Company and managed its affairs for the next eight years. While she did not oversee major product innovations, she did have a good feel for business and for promoting talented managers. In addition, her second marriage, in 1920, was to Edward F. Hutton, the founder of a brokerage firm on Wall Street.

Gross revenues in 1921 were $17.75 million.[7] In 1922, Hutton took the newly incorporated Postum Cereal Company public by issuing 200,000 common shares. The 1920s was a period in which common stock was still considered highly speculative, and consequently the newly issued shares carried a dividend at the rate of $5.00 per year.

Revenues in 1922 were essentially the same as in 1921, but in 1923, they were $22.25 million and a stock split, in the form of a 100% stock dividend, increased the authorized shares to 400,000. These shares also earned a $3.00 annual cash dividend, representing a 20% increase over the presplit rate. In 1925, with revenues now at $27.4 million, the stock was split once again and the dividend was increased to $4.00 per new share.

Major acquisitions

Commemorative placque at the Postum Cereal Company Factory, September 2014

Starting in 1925, under the leadership of financier (and at one point, son in-law to the founder), E. F. Hutton as chairman and Colby M. Chester as president, Postum Cereal made the first of a series of corporate acquisitions which would within a few years transform it into the dominant U.S. packaged grocery products manufacturer.

It began late that year with the purchase of the Jell-O Company. Jell-O had been first produced in 1897 by Pearle Bixby Wait, a carpenter from the town of LeRoy in northern New York state. Mr. Wait's product was based upon a patent that had been issued to inventor and industrialist Peter Cooper in 1845, but which Cooper had never developed commercially. However, Wait was unsuccessful in marketing Jell-O, and in 1899, he sold the rights to it for $450 to a neighbor, Orator Francis Woodward, who had founded the Genesee Pure Food Company in 1897. Genesee became the Jell-O Company in 1923, the same year it began marketing D-Zerta, a sugar-free gelatin, and a powdered mixture for making ice cream in the kitchen.

In 1926, Postum Cereal acquired Igleheart Brothers, Inc (established in 1856), the makers of Swans Down cake flour, and followed this with the purchase of the Minute Tapioca Company. "Tapioca Superlative" had been invented in 1894 by a Boston woman, Susan Stavers, who made it from tapioca flakes that she ran through her coffee grinder. Later that year, she sold the rights to John Whitman, of Orange, Massachusetts, who changed its name to "Minute Tapioca". In 1908, he changed the name of his company to that of his product. The "Minute" brand would later become better known for a General Foods innovation introduced in 1949 known as Minute Rice, a brand of parboiled rice.

As a consequence of the Jell-O and Minute Tapioca acquisitions, Postum Cereal's revenues in 1926 jumped to $46.9 million. The number of shares stood at 1.375 million, including shares issued to acquire Jell-O and Minute Tapioca. The dividend was increased to $4.70 a year.

The acquisition spree continued in 1927 with the purchase of two similarly named confectionery companies, chocolate-maker Walter Baker (founded in 1765, making it the oldest component of the Postum constituent companies), and coconut-processor Franklin Baker, which had begun early in the 19th century as a flour broker, but whose confectionery products dated from 1895. This was followed by the purchase of Log Cabin Products, the maker of Log Cabin Syrup (first produced in 1887), and of Richard Hellmann, Inc (established in 1913), the producer of Blue Ribbon mayonnaise. And late in the year, Postum Cereal began selling its first coffee product, "Sanka", by obtaining US marketing rights from Dr Ludwig Roselius of Bremen, Germany. Roselius had developed the decaffeinated coffee in 1906 and began selling it in the US in 1923.[8]

Three more acquisitions followed in 1928. The most important was that of the Cheek-Neel Coffee Company. Its product, Maxwell House, dating from 1892, was a well-known brand in what was still a fragmented US coffee market. Within a few years, however, it was to become the number one brand in America and would retain that position well into the 1980s. Also acquired during 1928 was the La France Manufacturing Company, a maker of starch and other laundry products (this being Postum's first venture into nonedibles), and the Calumet Baking Powder Company, the leading maker of this kitchen essential.

Financially, the year culminated on October 1 with the inclusion of Postum, Inc in the newly reformulated Dow Jones Industrial Average of 30 common stocks.[9] By year-end, revenues stood at $101 million and the dividend on the five million authorized shares was $5.00 per year, a 25-fold increase since 1922.

Purchase of General Foods and renaming

General Foods 1937 Specimen Stock Certificate

By far the most important acquisition of 1929 was of the frozen-food company owned by Clarence Birdseye,[10] called "General Foods Company". Birdseye (December 9, 1886 - October 7, 1956) was one of the most important entrepreneurs in the history of the food industry. Born in New York City, he became interested in the frozen preservation of food during the course of working as a fur trader in Labrador between 1912 and 1916. By 1923, he had developed a commercially viable process for quick-freezing foods using a belt mechanism, which he patented. In 1924, with backing from three investors, he formed the General Seafoods Company, in Gloucester, Massachusetts, to produce frozen haddock fillets packed in plain cardboard boxes.

The founder's visionary daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, a brilliant pioneering businesswoman, was first to become excited about the prospects for the frozen foods business. In 1926, she had put into port at Gloucester on her yacht, Hussar (IV), and was served a luncheon meal which, she learned to her amazement, had been frozen six months before. Although she eventually became the richest woman in America because of her business genius, it took Marjorie Post three years to finally convince Postum's management to acquire the company. In a deal arranged by Marjorie, who immediately understood the value of Clarence Birdseye's patents, Postum paid $10.75 million for a 51% interest and its partner, Goldman Sachs, paid $12.5 million for the other 49%.[11] Following this acquisition, Postum, Inc changed its name to General Foods Corporation. Goldman sold its share back to General Foods in 1932, apparently at a slight loss.

Shortly after the acquisition, General Foods began test-marketing an expanded line of frozen foods, but the company quickly realized that a packaging process alone would not be sufficient to market frozen products in stores. To be sold, the packages had to be kept frozen while on display, so Birdseye engineers began development of a freezer cabinet designed specifically to hold frozen foods. The cabinet, which first appeared in 1934, required a great deal of space and electricity, which were not readily available in most grocery stores of the period. For those stores which could accommodate them, the payback was immediate. Housewives quickly realized that keeping packages of frozen food in the icebox could mean fresher meals and fewer trips to the market.[12]

The company published a cook book in 1932, the General Foods Cook Book, dedicated "To the American homemaker". Five editions were published between 1932 and 1937. The book includes photographs (among which is "General Foods offers over twenty famous products for your well-stocked pantry shelf") and a subject index.[13]

After General Foods

Philip Morris Companies acquired General Foods in 1985 and Kraft Inc. in 1988, eventually merging them as Kraft Foods Inc. before the cereal unit was sold to Ralcorp in 2007.

In 2011, Ralcorp announced plans to spin off Post Foods into a separate company. About a quarter of Ralcorp's sales in 2010 were generated by its Post Foods unit.[14] The spinoff was completed with an IPO for Post Holdings, Inc. on February 7, 2012.[15]

In 2014, the company acquired Michael Foods.[16] The following year, Post Foods purchased MOM Brands (formerly Malt-O-Meal Co.) creating the third largest breakfast cereal company in the US. At this point, Post Foods rebranded as Post Consumer Brands, and is headquartered in Lakeville, Minnesota.

In July 2017, Post Holdings bought Weetabix Limited for £1.4 billion.[17] In 2019, the company began combining some of its MOM Brands and Weetabix cereal brands under the Three Sisters Cereal name.

On December 8, 2020, Post Holdings announced that it was acquiring the Peter Pan peanut butter brand from Conagra Brands.[18] The transaction was completed on January 25, 2021.[19] With the acquisition of Peter Pan peanut butter on January 25, 2021, Post created a new group called Animated Brands,[20] with the Peter Pan brand being the founding member. Animated Brands is managed under Post Consumer Brands.

On June 1, 2021, Post announced it acquired the ready-to-eat ("RTE") cereal business of TreeHouse Foods.[21] The TreeHouse Foods RTE cereal business was added to Post Consumer Brands' broad portfolio of private label cereal products.

In February 2023, Post Holdings announced its acquisition of pet food brands like 9Lives, Kibbles 'n Bits and Gravy Train. Such acquisition would enable Post's entry to the 'pet food category'. After the completion of this acquisition, Post intends to develop a new pet food category within Post Consumer Brands. [22][23][24]

Postum advertisements

Main article: Postum

Postum, a coffee substitute made out of roasted grain, was created in 1895. It was popular through the early 20th century, particularly during World War II when coffee was rationed.

Due to its decline in popularity, Post announced its discontinuation in 2007.[25][26][27] It was later revived by Eliza's Quest Food in 2013.[28]

Post Consumer Brands brands – present cereals and products

Post Consumer Brands discontinued cereals

See also

References

  1. ^ The timeline and product history is adapted from "A Chronological History of Kraft General Foods, Inc.", prepared by the KGF Archives Department, Glenview, IL, c. 1994.
  2. ^ Details of C. W. Post's career may be found in American National Biography, Vol. 7, pp. 725-7, published by Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ In I Kings 17:6, Elijah was described as having ravens feed him "bread and meat," rather than manna, when in hiding from King Ahab. Exodus 16:31 describes manna as "white [and having a similar flavor to] wafers--made with honey," but the Israelites found it a poor daily substitute for the diet of meats, fishes, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic which they had enjoyed in Egypt.
  4. ^ The Kellogg brothers had been selling their corn flakes and other cereal products since 1897, but with only limited success. Post, who took the cereal business seriously, was equipped to market and advertise his products nationwide; so successfully, in fact, that W.K. Kellogg broke away from his brother and in 1907 founded his own company, the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company (renamed the Kellogg Company in 1922). Kellogg's Corn Flakes eventually overtook Post Toasties in popularity and the latter brand is today only a minor player in the dry-cereal market.
  5. ^ See International Directory of Company Histories, Volume 2, pp 530-32, published by St. James Press, 1990, for details relating to the company during this period.
  6. ^ Biographical details of Post's life may be found in American National Biography, Volume 7, p. 732.
  7. ^ Financial details for the company during this period may be found in the annual issues of Moody's Manual of Investments American and Foreign Industrial Securities, published by Moody's Investor Services.
  8. ^ "Sanka" is a contraction of the French words, sans caféine. Roselius for many years had had little success in finding a viable decaffeination process. Legend has it that when a shipment of green coffee sank in Bremen harbor, the beans came out caffeine free. Ultimately, Roselius settled on a washing process under more sanitary conditions. General Foods purchased Roselius's American company outright in 1932 and the original German company, Sanka HAG, AG, in 1979.
  9. ^ "djindexes.com" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  10. ^ Details of Birdseye's remarkable career may be found in American National Biography, Vol. 2, pp. 808-9.
  11. ^ Following the sale, Birdseye remained in the frozen foods business. In 1932, he established Birds Eye Frozen Foods, which by later in the decade was selling almost 100 different frozen products. It is not immediately clear how General Foods came to acquire the product name, but Birds Eye frozen vegetables were a major component of its business until the division was sold to Dean Foods in 1993.
  12. ^ The space and power requirements for the burgeoning frozen-food section was one factor which led to the rapid development of larger self-service supermarkets beginning in the late 1930s.
  13. ^ General Foods Consumer Service Department General Foods Cook Book. New York: General Foods Corporation
  14. ^ Boyle, Matthew (July 14, 2011). "Ralcorp to Spin Off Post Foods After Failing to Find Buyer". Bloomberg.
  15. ^ York, New (2012-02-07). "Post Holdings Celebrates Spinoff from Ralcorp Holdings". Exchanges.nyx.com. Archived from the original on 2014-02-24. Retrieved 2014-02-05.
  16. ^ "Post Holdings to Acquire Michael Foods for $2.45 billion". Post Holdings. 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2021-07-26.
  17. ^ "Weetabix to be sold to US company Post Holdings". BBC News. 18 April 2017. Retrieved 18 April 2017.
  18. ^ Barr, Diana (8 December 2020). "Post Holdings to buy Peter Pan peanut butter brand". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  19. ^ "Post Holdings and Conagra Brands Announce Completion of Acquisition of Peter Pan® Peanut Butter Brand by Post Holdings". GlobeNewswire News Room. 25 January 2021. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  20. ^ "Animated Brands: A Family of Brands to Know and Love". Animated Brands. Retrieved 2021-08-31.
  21. ^ "Post buys TreeHouse Foods' ready-to-eat cereal business for $85M". Food Dive. Retrieved 2021-06-07.
  22. ^ "Post Holdings entering pet food market". Food Business News. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  23. ^ "Post Holdings acquires pet-food brands from J.M. Smucker". Just Food. 9 February 2023. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  24. ^ "Smucker sells off Nutrish, 9Lives, other pet food brands". Petfood industry. 8 February 2023. Retrieved 3 June 2023.
  25. ^ Israelsen-Hartley, Sara (January 1, 2008), "Fans in withdrawal from coffee substitute Postum", Deseret News, retrieved 2012-11-21
  26. ^ Stephenson, Kathy (January 1, 2008), "Mormons mourn Postum's passing", The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved 2012-11-21
  27. ^ Rowe, Taashi (January 16, 2008). "Goodbye to Postum". Adventist News Network. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  28. ^ "Where To Buy", Postum.com, Eliza's Quest Foods, archived from the original on 2013-01-31, retrieved 2013-01-31
  29. ^ "Better Oats Instant Oatmeal: Taste the Difference | Post Consumer Brands".
  30. ^ "Snacks".
  31. ^ "The Original Honeycomb Cereal".
  32. ^ Vintage Old 1960s Animated Post Beep Beep Cereal with Wylie Coyote and Roadrunner Commercial. YouTube. 29 June 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  33. ^ Post Bran & Prune Flakes - Classic TV Commercial. YouTube. 2 March 2013.[dead YouTube link]
  34. ^ Vintage Old 1960s Post Cereal Corn Crackos Animated Commercial. YouTube. 13 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  35. ^ Corn Flakes and Fruit Cereal Series II Classic Commercial 1960s Pt 2. YouTube. 23 July 2013.[dead YouTube link]
  36. ^ Corn Flakes and Peaches Cereal II Vintage Commercial 1960s Pt 2. YouTube. 23 July 2013.[dead YouTube link]
  37. ^ Post Fruit in the Box Cereals II Classic 1960s Pt 4. YouTube. 20 July 2013.[dead YouTube link]
  38. ^ Post Count Off Cereal (1962) - Classic TV Commercial. YouTube. 20 August 2012.[dead YouTube link]
  39. ^ a b c d e "Comedy News, Viral Videos, Late Night TV, Political Humor, Funny Slideshows - HuffPost Comedy". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2012-03-02. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  40. ^ "Fortified Oat Flakes Cereal - MrBreakfast.com". mrbreakfast.com.
  41. ^ Vintage Old 1950s Post Heart of Oats Cereal Commercial. YouTube. 24 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  42. ^ "Mini Cinnamon Churros". Post. Archived from the original on March 13, 2013. Retrieved April 6, 2013.
  43. ^ 1960 POST OAT FLAKES CEREAL COMMERCIAL. YouTube. 13 November 2013.[dead YouTube link]
  44. ^ Pink Panther Flakes cereal commercial. YouTube. 28 October 2012.[dead YouTube link]
  45. ^ YouTube. youtube.com.[dead YouTube link]
  46. ^ Vintage Old 1960s Post Casper The Ghost Ghosties Animated Cereal Commercial. YouTube. 23 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  47. ^ Vintage Old 1960s Post Size 8 Cereal Commercial. YouTube. 31 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  48. ^ Vintage Old 1950s Post Tens Cereal Multi Packs Corn Flakes, raisan bran commercial. YouTube. 10 February 2014.[dead YouTube link]
  49. ^ 1956 Commercial for Kellogg's Variety Pack ( Never used). YouTube. 31 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  50. ^ Vintage Old 1960s Post Top 3 Cereal Commercial. YouTube. 18 September 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  51. ^ Vintage Old 1950s Post Puffed Corn Flakes Cereal Commercial. YouTube. 28 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
  52. ^ "Raisin Grape-Nuts: Raisin Grape-Nuts Cereal Box". mrbreakfast.com.
  53. ^ "26 Cereals From The '90s You'll Never Be Able To Eat Again". BuzzFeed. 4 May 2013.
  54. ^ 1963 RICE KRINKLES RICKSHAW RACER COMMERCIAL. YouTube. 3 March 2013.[dead YouTube link]
  55. ^ vintage_ads (15 June 2012). "Freaky Friday - Evil Clown Phobia, anyone?". livejournal.com.
  56. ^ Creepy Post Sugar Rice Krinkles Cereal - Classic 1960s TV Commercial. YouTube. 6 June 2012.[dead YouTube link]
  57. ^ Early 1970s Post Frosted Rice Krinkles Cereal TV commercial (animated). YouTube. 9 August 2010.[dead YouTube link]
  58. ^ "My Breakfast Cereal Was Discontinued". bcbusiness.ca.
  59. ^ Vintage Old 1960s Post Super Orange Crisp Animated Cereal Commercial. YouTube. 13 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2021-12-22.
Post Holdings, Inc.