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Cereal Stocker: 1939

Cereal Stocker: 1939

November 1939. "Placing packaged goods on display rack. Retail grocery in San Angelo, Texas." Medium format negative by Russell Lee. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Before There Were Wheaties

Another forgotten cereal: PEP.

Good ol' Shredded Wheat

As a youngster of seven in 1939 I remember Nabisco Shredded Wheat very well, especially the box it came in, with a cardboard separator between each layer, printed with cartoons, as I recall.

Tortured wheat

You can get it hammered, shredded or rippled.

The sophisticated cracker

Educator Hammered Wheat Thinsies. An unusually whimsical and clever product name coming from that era. I bet those box tops are worth a bundle.

Two interesting things

1) I always thought that Grape Nuts Flakes were a modern attempt to recycle the successful brand on another, pretty much unrelated, product. It may that it is so, but its pedigree isn't modern - there it is on the shelf in 1939.

2) I am impressed that not one of the cereals here is sugary - presumably because such products just didn't exist. I learn from Wikipedia that Frosted Flakes (known when I was a lad as Sugar Frosted Flakes) date to 1952. Could it be that kids ate All Bran? Or were breakfast cereals for the parents?

Where are the corn flakes

My father, born in 1909, still preferred cornflakes to all other cereals and sometimes both started and ended his day with a bowl of cornflakes with milk. They were one of the earliest cold cereals I think. Also, regarding the Skinner's spaghetti products, way back in the day we had a cookbook they gave out as a free promotion called "What's for dinner, Mrs. Skinner?" chock full of inexpensive recipes for economical suppers.

Excuse Me, Young Man

Can you please direct me to your gluten free boxed cereal aisle?

High fiber

What you need to keep you regular.

The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek

is a fascinating read.

Book Summary: "The author of An Anatomy of Addiction traces the story of brothers Harvey and Will Kellogg, one of whom became a revered doctor and founder of the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium, the other of whom founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which eventually became General Mills."

Grape Nuts!

I remember Grape Nuts.
Or as I like to call it: Road Gravel.
You had to time it right to eat Grape Nuts. There's about 10 seconds between "break-your-teeth-hard" and "library paste" so ... eat up!

No fun cereals!

The only “fun” cereal is Rice Krispies. I have a feeling moms didn’t have to worry about sugary cereals or if the kids were anything like me eating any of the others at all.

There they are --

Top shelf, second from the left: Grape Nuts. I eat them almost every morning. Now if I could just find the Flaky Flix cookies I'd be set for the day.

Breakfasts of Champions

Heck, I still eat half that stuff!!

So that's the guy!

The one who always puts stuff on the top shelf where I can't reach it!

Making elbows

Skinner's is still around. Now owned by Riviana Foods.

The brand is most likely targeted toward the southwestern United States; I have not seen this in any stores near us in the Midwest.

Flying saucers off the shelf

Noted the Mother's Oats (upper left) with cup and saucers.

It made me remember the days when they used to enclose dishware in cereal and soap as a premium. Competition from so many brands led to marketers doing almost anything to get the products to fly off the shelves.

This even expanded to grocery stores, themselves, offering a different piece of dishware each week so that shoppers would return to complete the whole set.

Cubist display?

I can't wrap my head around the perspective of the top few rows of Shredded Wheat boxes. Was this a composite of a couple of photos?

[No. Think harder! - Dave]

Arrghh!! It keeps flipping in and out!
I see it now,but it's one of those reversible cube patterns...

Ralston Purina Co.

Purina Chows founder William H. Danforth became a partial adherent of "Ralstonism" and attached it to the company name when they started producing people food. One of the tenets of that belief system was healthy eating.

He always championed his "Four-Square" philosophy of life, written about in his book "I Dare You", which was the basis for the company logo, the red-white-red-white Checkerboard Square.

My father was hired by the Danforth family in 1950.

I remember "Krumbles"

from the late 1950s or so. They were delicious! Wish they were still around. The box label had beautiful blue morning glories twining around the name.


It's interesting - I would have thought that those kind of boxed cereals would have proliferated post-war. Neat to see that in the late 30s there were so many varieties (even if they all kind of sound the same).


A wall of wheat and corn.

A Little Higher, Please!

I think our stock boy needs to grab a few more boxes of the "Ralston Shredded" to cover up that hole in the window!

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