Grape Nuts proves it: We're all suckers


The history of Grape Nuts cereal reads like an unusually droll Orwell novel. A suicidal cereal genius creates a food that's barely tasty and so bizarrely crunchy it's rumored to break consumers' teeth. Though it has neither grapes nor nuts as ingredients, doesn't look a bit like the nut (or seed) of a grape, and doesn't taste particularly nutty or grapey, it's named Grape Nuts for reasons that remain unknown. For 111 years, it's been marketed with a mixture of lies and almost-lies.

And we eat it up.

Yep, there's one of us born every minute. Suckers, all. Among the lies Post Cereal has told in the century-plus of marketing, according to an amusing piece in the Wall Street Journal, include a 1910 advert claiming the cereal had phosphate of potash for building brains and nerves (huh?); that it was instrumental in building the Panama Canal because, among other things, it prevented malaria and appendicitis. Side note: C.W. Post suffered from appendicitis shortly before he killed himself. Apparently the cereal hadn't helped him.

The cereal's newest ad campaign suggests the stuff makes men more virile. I'll let you decide whether or not that's actually true.

One brand manager calls it: "people eating advertising." (I'd argue this descriptor could be applied to all sorts of things, including the "Chalupa," (apologies to one of our dear WalletPop editors, Andrea Chalupa) and every can of "lite beer" ever produced.) People eat a lot of advertising in the U.S., and thus, the advertisers keep coming. Do you eat Grape Nuts? Why in the world?

Yum: a big bowl of crunchy, munchy marketing ballyhoo. (it's actually bread crumbs).