Product typeRoasted grain beverage
OwnerPost Holdings
Introduced1895; 129 years ago (1895)[1]

Postum (US: /ˈpstəm/) is a powdered roasted grain beverage popular as a coffee substitute. The caffeine-free beverage was created by Post Cereal Company founder C. W. Post in 1895 and marketed as a healthier alternative to coffee.[2]: 93  Post was a student of John Harvey Kellogg, who believed that caffeine was unhealthy. Post Cereal Company eventually became General Foods, then merged to Kraft Foods Inc. in 1990. Eliza's Quest Foods now owns the trademark rights and secret recipe of Postum.

The "instant" drink mix version was developed in 1912, replacing the original brewed beverage.[3] Postum is made from roasted wheat bran and molasses. In addition to the original flavor, coffee-flavored and cocoa-flavored versions have been introduced.


When tested by the FDA, Postum had more acrylamide than any other product, by dry weight.[4] [5]


Advertisement from 1910

Lost Eyesight through Coffee Drinking

— Postum advertisement[2]: 95 

Postum quickly became popular, making Post wealthy. The aggressive advertising, with the slogan "There's a Reason", warned against the alleged dangers of coffee and caffeine, and promoted the benefits of Postum. When imitations appeared, the company introduced a cheaper drink called Monk's Brew that was identical to Postum, but discontinued it after competitors left the market. Instant Postum appeared in 1911.[2]: 93–98  A 1912 advertisement for Instant Postum is the earliest known use of the word “instant” to refer to a processed food that can be prepared immediately.[6]

Although the Post Cereal Company explicitly stated in its advertising that Postum did not taste like coffee and was not a coffee substitute,[7] the drink enjoyed an enormous rise in sales and popularity in the United States during World War II when coffee was rationed and people sought a replacement.[2]: 223 

Postum was sometimes marketed by a cartoon ghost named Mister Coffee Nerves,[8] who would appear in situations wherein people were shown in uncomfortable life situations (e.g., irritability, lack of sleep, lack of athletic prowess) due to their use of coffee and its negative effects. These cartoons always ended with the afflicted people switching to Postum and Mister Coffee Nerves fleeing until the next cartoon.[9] The company sponsored the radio shows Lum and Abner, Beulah and The Aldrich Family, and the radio version of Father Knows Best.

Postum was popular with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and part of Mormon culture for many years because Mormons abstain from coffee.[10][11] It was also popular with those following religious dietary restrictions of Seventh-day Adventists.[12]

The US government used Postum as a code name for polonium,[13] used in the Urchin-style nuclear weapon initiators.

Kraft discontinued production of Postum in 2007.[10][11][12][14] In May 2012, Kraft sold the Postum trademark and trade secret to Eliza's Quest Food, with Postum sold through[15] As of January 2013, Eliza's Quest Food succeeded in returning Postum to many grocery stores across the United States and Canada.[16]


See also


  1. ^ Our roots on Postum website
  2. ^ a b c d Pendergrast, Mark (2010) [2001]. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World (Rev. ed.). New York City: Basic Books. ISBN 9780465018369. OCLC 609871227.
  3. ^ Clarke, R.J.; Macrae, R., eds. (1987), Coffee (Volume 5): Related Beverages, Springer, pp. 98–99, ISBN 9781851661039
  4. ^ "FDA produces most extensive list of acrylamide content in foods". 7 August 2006. Retrieved 17 January 2024.
  5. ^ "FDA-Measured Acrylamide Levels" (PDF). OEHHA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-08.
  6. ^ "instant". Oxford English Dictionary (Online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/OED/1092511898. (Subscription or participating institution membership required.)
  7. ^ "Now, how did I ever get that idea?". Life (advertisement). 1942-11-23. p. 73. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  8. ^ Young, William H.; Young, Nancy K. (2007), "Coffee & Tea", The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1, Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, p. 101, ISBN 978-0-313-33521-1
  9. ^ Lileks, James. "The Adventures of Mr. Coffee Nerves". Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  10. ^ a b Israelsen-Hartley, Sara (January 1, 2008), "Fans in withdrawal from coffee substitute Postum", Deseret News, retrieved 2012-11-21
  11. ^ a b Stephenson, Kathy (January 1, 2008), "Mormons mourn Postum's passing", The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved 2012-11-21
  12. ^ a b Rowe, Taashi (January 16, 2008). "Goodbye to Postum". Adventist News Network. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  13. ^ Injecting Polonium into Humans, Federation of American Scientists, December 12th, 2006 by Steven Aftergood
  14. ^ Fisher, Jenna (March 12, 2008), "Can Postum fans revive their beloved beverage?", The Christian Science Monitor, retrieved 2012-11-21
  15. ^ "About our product",, Eliza's Quest Foods, archived from the original on 2012-07-13, retrieved 2013-01-31
  16. ^ "Where To Buy",, Eliza's Quest Foods, archived from the original on 2013-01-31, retrieved 2013-01-31

Further reading

In popular culture

In "All by Herself", episode 14 of season 5 of The Facts of Life, Mrs. Garrett offers the girls a nice, piping hot cup of Postum.

In "The Pez Dispenser", episode 14 of season 3 of Seinfeld, George and Jerry briefly discuss how Postum is underrated as a drink.

Post Holdings, Inc.