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The Cereal Periodic Table

July 07, 2009

The Cereal Periodic Table

Celia Sin-Tien Cheng

I’m always amazed by the ever-growing variety of cereals on the breakfast-food aisle in grocery stores. There are even more possibilities than there were when I was a kid in the 80’s. I vividly remember the TV commercials starring Tony the Tiger for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes; Snap, Crackle and Pop for Kellogg’s Rice Krispies; and the Silly Rabbit for General Mills’ Trix. And the list goes on. There was something magical about cereal in childhood.

Perhaps it’s nostalgia that drew my attention to the “Periodic Breakfast Table” in the Spring 2009 Gastronomica, in which Catharine Weese explains the periodic chart that she created in 1998 to illustrate cereal’s design evolution.

This periodic table is fun to explore as it’s divided into five categories based on cereal shape. The number in the top left corner of each cell indicates the year the product was introduced into the market, starting with Shredded Wheat in 1894 — wow! The colored circle containing a single letter indicates the manufacturer: Kellogg’s, Post, General Mills or Quaker Oats. Other information includes nutritional data and (now outdated) price.