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2006 Wheatena box
Wheatena is an Americanmarker high-fiber, toasted-wheat cereal that originated on Mulberry Street in New York Citymarker, New Yorkmarker, circa 1879, when a small bakery owner began roasting whole wheat, grinding it, and packaging it for sale under this brand name.


Wheatena was created by George H. Hoyt in the late 19th century, when retailers would typically buy cereal (the most popular being cracked wheat, oatmeal, and cerealine) in barrel lots, and scoop it out to sell by the pound to customers. Hoyt, who'd found a distinctive process of preparing wheat for cereal, sold his cereal in boxes, offering consumers a sanitary appeal.

Hoyt advertised the cereal in newspapers as early as 1879 and sold the business six years later to Dr. Frank Fuller, a physician with interest in nutrition, who had founded the Health Food Company. Fuller adapted Hoyt's method to his own process for preparing a wheat cereal, and moved manufacturing to Akron, Ohiomarker, close to the wheat supply. A.R. Wendell bought Health Foods in 1903, and incorporated it as The Wheatena Company that year. In 1907, the company moved to a new plant, dubbed "Wheatenaville", in Rahway, New Jerseymarker. By the mid-1920s, millions of boxes were sold each year.

1930s Wheatena magazine ad
In the early 1960s, the Kansas City, Missourimarker-based Uhlmann Company, owner of the Standard Milling Company, purchased both the Wheatena corporation and Highspire Flour Mills, which for several years had been supplying the 100% cracked wheat used in the cereal. Uhlmann moved Wheatena manufacturing to Highspire, Pennsylvaniamarker in October 1967. The company began leasing its flour-milling facilities to the agribusiness giant ConAgra Foods in early 1987, and sold the cereal manufacturing operation to American Home Food Products in April 1988. Uhlmann retained rights to the Wheatena brand until shortly after International Home Foods acquired American Home Foods in November 1996 and then bought the brand name from Uhlmann. International Home Foods was in turn acquired by ConAgra in Aug. 2000.

Entrepreneur William Stadtlander bought the brand and the Pennsylvania manufacturing plant on Oct. 31, 2001, under the newly formed Homestat Farm, Ltd. of Dublin, Ohiomarker, which as of 2006 manufactures Wheatena and fellow vintage cereals Maypo and Maltex.

In mid-2006, Californiamarker sued Homestat under the state's Proposition 65, which requires labeling for food containing acrylamide, a potential carcinogen created when starch is baked, roasted, fried or toasted. Homestat was in compliance with federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, which do not require warning labels on foods containing acrylamide.

In the media

Wheatena sponsored the thrice-weekly Popeye the Sailor radio program that premiered on NBC's Red Network on Tuesday, Sept.10, 1935, sponsoring it for 87 episodes through March 28, 1936. The product was integrated into the narrative as a source, in addition to spinach, of Popeye's superhuman strength. Announcer Kelvin Beech would sing, to composer Sammy Lerner's "Popeye" theme, "Wheatena is his diet / He asks you to try it / With Popeye the sailor man". Wheatena reportedly paid King Features Syndicate $1,200 per week.

The show was then broadcast Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:15 – 7:30 p.m. on WABCmarker from August 31, 1936 to February 26, 1937, for 78 episodes. Once again, reference to spinach was conspicuously absent. Now Popeye would sing, "Wheatena's me diet / I ax ya to try it / I'm Popeye the Sailor Man".

Wheatena also sponsored the radio show Raising Junior, and at least one edition of the promotional proto-comic book, Funnies on Parade.

In the film Caddyshack, assistant greenskeeper Carl Spackler mutters to the head greenskeeper (whose nationality is Scottish), "I'll fill your bagpipes with Wheatena."

In the episode “The Young and the Restless” from the TV show M*A*S*H, Radar tries to coax a depressed Col. Potter out of bed by telling him that they are serving Wheatena in the mess tent.

In the episode "Gone Quiet" from the TV show The West Wing, Joshua Lyman's assistant Donna Moss, describing a run-in with some visiting senior citizens, mentions that one of them poured Wheatena on her keyboard.

Nutritional analysis

"Nutrition Facts" required by California's Proposition 65:

"Nutrition Facts" as they appear on a 2007 box:

Ingredients: toasted crushed whole wheat, wheat bran, wheat germ and calcium carbonate.Serving Size: 1/3 cup (dry)Amount Per Serving:

"Nutrition Facts" as they appear on 2006 box

Serving Size: 1 cup (141 grams)Amount per Serving
  • Calories - 503
  • Calories from Fat - 37
  • Total Fat - 4.1g
    • Saturated Fat - 0.6g
    • Polyunsaturated Fat - 2.1g
    • Monounsaturated Fat - 0.6g
  • Cholesterol - 0mg
  • Sodium - 18 milligrams
  • Total Carbohydrates - 106.6g
  • Dietary Fiber - 18.0g
  • Sugars - 2.3g
  • Protein - 18.5g
% Daily Value, based on a 2000-calorie diet
  • Vitamin A - 1%
  • Vitamin C - 0%
  • Calcium - 4%
  • Iron - 28%




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