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Whither Bananas on Breakfast Cereal?


Chris Amirault
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Does anyone have any insight to share about the US breakfast phenomenon that nearly demands we all place sliced bananas on our breakfast cereal? I did the weekly shop yesterday, and there are now as many bananas in the cereal aisle as there are in the produce section. I'm hooked: unless it's berry season, I put a sliced banana on my All-Bran most mornings. I'd imagine it's part of some brilliant marketing campaign from the 1950s or 60s, but I'm just guessing. Anyone know?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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It was always something my parents did, so my brothers and I did as well, but generally only the more mildly sweet cereals--Cheerios, special K, perhaps cornflakes and kix got banana or peach slices from time to time. As a kid, I must say it made those (at the time) more boring cereals go down a lot easier.

I'll hafta say, I've never seen fruit right there with the cereal though.

Edited by Malkavian (log)
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I've only eaten them with Cheerios or Shredded Wheat. Anything else is too sweet.

An interesting aside about bananas: My whole life they've given me a stomach ache. Then about 20 years ago organic bananas became available to me and I discovered that they don't! From time to time I've tried eating a conventional banana just to see if maybe the problem has gone away. It hasn't.

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I've only eaten them with Cheerios or Shredded Wheat. Anything else is too sweet.

An interesting aside about bananas: My whole life they've given me a stomach ache. Then about 20 years ago organic bananas became available to me and I discovered that they don't! From time to time I've tried eating a conventional banana just to see if maybe the problem has gone away. It hasn't.

That's interesting. My husband likes bananas, but doesn't eat them often because they give him heartburn. Conventional brands of yogurt do also, but the organic brands with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup don't. We were wondering whether maybe bananas are high in fructose.

Maybe I'll see if he has a problem with organic bananas.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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I've only eaten them with Cheerios or Shredded Wheat. Anything else is too sweet.

An interesting aside about bananas: My whole life they've given me a stomach ache. Then about 20 years ago organic bananas became available to me and I discovered that they don't! From time to time I've tried eating a conventional banana just to see if maybe the problem has gone away. It hasn't.

That's interesting. My husband likes bananas, but doesn't eat them often because they give him heartburn. Conventional brands of yogurt do also, but the organic brands with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup don't. We were wondering whether maybe bananas are high in fructose.

Maybe I'll see if he has a problem with organic bananas.

MelissaH

I hope you'll report back.

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It's probably tied to promotion of healthier eating habits. Bananas on unsweetened cold cereal provides potassium, a fruit, and sweetness.

I usually have banana on my cereal in the mornings, but they give me heartburn if I eat them in the evenings.

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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As a child, I watched my grandfather put bananas on his Wheaties. I began to copy him becasue I thought everthing he did was perfect. We only ate low sugar cereals, so the bananas added a little sweet touch. During peach season, over-ripe peaches were often substitued for bananas.

I have noticed large tiered racks of bananas in the cereal aisle in several local stores.

I too am curious as to how this banana/cereal pairing became popular.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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As I understand it, from the 1920s through the 1950s, United Fruit and Standard Fruit were very aggressive about promoting banana use in the US. I don't know if bananas-on-cereal came directly from a marketing effort, or from some clever home economist who was caught up in the banana culture, but it was one of the ideas for banana use that gained traction, probably because it's such a good idea. When it comes to breakfast, people are creatures of habit. Many of the most adventurous eaters I know won't deviate from a specific breakfast plan. Especially back in the day, when bananas were one of the few good-quality fruits available year round in supermarkets in colder climates, bananas were something you could always have on hand. I'm sure plenty of people switched to berries and such during the month or two each year when those were available locally, but otherwise it was bananas all the way. The tradition has been handed down, and is now part of American culture.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I found a few interesting articles about the history of bananas in the US.

http://www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/showrev.c...229991096374933

In the case of bananas, shipping companies that moved people and goods between the United States and the Caribbean in the nineteenth century looked for ways to increase profits and cut expenses. They cultivated foreign banana production in the latter while at the same time tried to create a domestic market for the fruit. Bananas were first available to a sizeable population at the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876 where experimenters could buy one for ten cents. After that, however, they did not become widely available for twenty more years and then were marketed as the "poor man's fruit." By the 1920s, importers found that this image actually impeded sales to middle- and upper-class consumers who did not want to eat the same foods as the lower classes. They remade the banana's image to one of health and status to appeal to the new generation of well-educated middle-class mothers and teachers who looked for vitamin content. Vitamins were not discovered until after the beginning of the twentieth century and before that time bananas, and fruit in general, were not valued as nutritionally important foods.

...Fruit companies, home economists, ladies magazines, and cook book publishers presented Americans with numerous ways to use bananas from the once-novel slicing of bananas on top of cereal to more exotic uses such as drying them and grinding them into flour to be substituted in breads or fed to babies.

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa38...i_n9121344/pg_6

At a time when more women left the home to pursue jobs as teachers, office workers, and retailers, the popularity of bananas is not surprising; unlike domestically grown fruits, they could be consumed virtually year round without any need for labor-intensive (or value-added) preservation methods such as canning or drying.

The banana's thick, germ resistant peel further pleased early twentieth-century public-health officials concerned about the spread of infectious diseases in densely populated urban areas.

Edited by Terrasanct (log)
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Especially back in the day, when bananas were one of the few good-quality fruits available year round in supermarkets in colder climates, bananas were something you could always have on hand.

Bananas are still one of the few good-quality fruits in my supermarket. I just tossed out a whole cantaloupe this morning because it had no flavor.

Around my house growing up we only sliced bananas onto cereal when the fruit was on the verge of going bad.

Todd A. Price aka "TAPrice"

Homepage and writings; A Frolic of My Own (personal blog)

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I can personally attest that slicing bananas onto cereal goes back at least as far as the mid-1960s. My father changed breakfast cereals over the years, but always sliced bananas or peaches over his cereal. I don't eat breakfast cereal any more, but sliced bananas on Total or Product 19 is pretty ultimate.

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How old were you when you started doing this, Malkavian?

Oh, very likely as long as i've been eating cereal. Since I was school age at least (and so cereal became a regular breakfast item since time was short) so lets' say around the late 80s.

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Especially back in the day, when bananas were one of the few good-quality fruits available year round in supermarkets in colder climates, bananas were something you could always have on hand.

Bananas are still one of the few good-quality fruits in my supermarket. I just tossed out a whole cantaloupe this morning because it had no flavor.

That is the problem I have with the "eat locally" movement. Do we have to give up bananas , pineapples, chocolate etc. because it is shipped a long distance? When we go to tropical places, Central America, or especially Thailand we discover whole worlds of tasty and delicious (and unknown to us) fruits. Seems we should be eating a bigger variety, not more limited. Though the beauty of ban, pine and choc are that they ship very well.

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On occassion I have a late night indulgence of - a bowl of Kelloggs cornflakes, sliced banana, just a sprinkling of sugar with a little pour of cold - cold heavy cream all over it. Nirvana in the night. :biggrin:

Years ago, I had read in a John Lennon interview with Rolling Stone that he enjoyed cornflakes and cream. He had ordered it from room service during the interview.

I was in my 20's and up until that point I had only had my cereal with milk, so I had to try it. It was sooo good. It is only made better by adding the sliced bananas (to the cereal that I grew up eating as a kid '60's) and the small sprinkle of sugar.

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Well, I just asked my father, who is 87, what he recalls. He says that as far back as he can remember (which is about the time that cold cereals, such as wheat flakes and corn flakes invented by Mr. Kellogg, and grape nuts and Post Toasties invented by Mr. Post became popular), people ate fruit on their cereal. Bananas were the easiest and most widely available.

This was in the 1920's, long before a "brilliant marketing campaign."

He adds that he thinks bananas and cold cereal became so popular together because, um, "it tastes good."

:cool:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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No argument about taste, and no reflection on our forebears, but the United Fruit Company, the massive corporation that brought bananas stateside, was founded in 1871, and was marketing bananas in the early 20th century.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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