This might seem an unusual post, but in March 1939 the people of Sheffield were getting quite excited about a new breakfast cereal.
“Now – a FOOD gives CONSTIPATION victims permanent relief,” announced The Star. “Not a drug, not a medicine, this crisp new breakfast cereal is welcomed by thousands who have tried countless remedies in vain.”
And so, what was this exciting new miracle cereal?
“Doctors today recommend Kellogg’s All-Bran as the one safe way to relieve constipation. They know that this crisp, delicious breakfast food contains just the ‘bulk’ that is necessary to make your bowels move naturally, regularly and normally.”
If truth be known, this cardboard-like cereal was launched in the United States by William Keith Kellogg in 1916, the company’s third product after Corn Flakes and Bran Flakes. It was invented by W.K. Kellogg’s son, John L. Kellogg, who added malt favouring to bran cereal, but who was forced out of the company in 1925.
W.K. Kellogg was a tough operator, and once wrote that “Highly seasoned [meats], stimulating sauces… and dainty titbits in endless variety irritate [the] nerves and… react upon the sexual organs.” He wrote as much about the dangers of sex and masturbation as he did about healthy living. Cereal was the bridge; the dietetic remedy to keep diets from leading them to sin.
All-Bran, along with Corn Flakes, had been imported to the UK, since 1922, prompting the company to appoint the industry’s first dietician in 1923. The Kellogg’s Company of Great Britain opened at Holborn, London, in 1914.
The claim from 1939 that All-Bran was a “new” breakfast cereal probably relates to the fact that Kellogg’s had opened its first British factory at Trafford Park, Manchester, in May 1938, geared up to produce Corn Flakes, All-Bran and Rice Krispies.
It provided a constant supply of breakfast cereals across the UK for the first time, but the start of World War Two, and the introduction of rationing, curtailed its development, with Kellogg’s products only sold in the midlands, north of England and Scotland.
All-Bran peaked in the 1970s, but its market share declined from 1986 onwards, partly due to an increase in supermarket own-brand imitations, but mainly from the increase in sales of Bran Flakes and Fruit ‘n’ Fibre.