Cream of Wheat is a hot breakfast cereal invented in 1893 by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The cereal is currently manufactured and sold by B&G Foods. Until 2007, it was the Nabisco brand made by Kraft Foods. It is similar in texture to grits, but made with farina (ground wheat) instead of ground corn. The product made its debut at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois.
In addition to its wheat-based products, the rice-based Cream of Rice is also produced as part of the product line, and is often a recommended early food for infants and toddlers.
Cream of Wheat is prepared by boiling water and slowly pouring in the farina
while stirring. As it's stirred, the farina starts to thicken and mix with the water, creating a mixture that thickens depending on the ratio of liquid to farina. Some choose to use milk
instead of, or in addition to, water, to give the resulting food a creamier taste. Currently there are three available original mixes, the difference being in the time it takes to prepare — 10-minute, 2 ½-minute or 1-minute. Cream of Wheat is also sold in single-serving instant packets. These are prepared by mixing with hot water and allowing to set in a bowl (about two minutes).
It is common to customize the hot cereal with the addition of sugar, fruit, or nuts. As a result, several flavors are sold of the instant variety: Original, Apples 'N' Cinnamon, Maple Brown Sugar, Strawberries 'N' Cream and Cinnamon Swirl.
The original boxes of Cream of Wheat were hand-made and lettered, and emblazoned with the image of a black chef
produced by Emery Mapes. The character was named Rastus
, and the image was included on all boxes and advertisements and continues to be used today with only very slight changes. A stereotypical black icon was fairly common for U.S. commercial brands at the time of the cereal's creation; for other examples, see Aunt Jemima
and Uncle Ben
. It has long been thought that a black chef named Frank L. White
was the model for the chef shown on the Cream of Wheat box. White, who died in 1938 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Leslie, Michigan
claimed to be the model for the Cream of Wheat box. In June 2007, a headstone was erected for Mr. White. The headstone contains his name and an etching taken from the man depicted on the Cream of Wheat box.
In February 1913 issue of McClure's Magazine at page 232 there appeared the following rhyme:
What do I care
for snow or sleet,
My tummy is full of
Cream o' Wheat