September 4, 2020 - Cream of Wheat, the hot breakfast cereal that many of us grew up on, was originally developed in North Dakota. Cream of Wheat began as breakfast porridge developed by head flour miller Tom Amidon at the Grand Forks Diamond Milling Company in 1893. He fed the product, made from farina (the whitest part of the wheat), to his family.
Amidon promoted the idea of the new cereal to Diamond Milling owners George Bull, Emory Mapes and George Clifford Sr. It was Clifford’s brother, Fred, who came up with the “Cream of Wheat” name because the product was so white.
Diamond Milling was struggling financially after the panic of 1893, and the three men decided to add some of the new cereal to a rail carload of flour being shipped to a New York brokerage firm. The cereal was a hit in New York and the brokers ordered a car load of Cream of Wheat.
It was then that the mill owners organized the Cream of Wheat Company. The company sold 554 cases of cereal in 1896, increasing to over 15,600 cases in 1897. The owners’ business plan was to spend as much on advertising as possible in order to get the cereal into the national market. And the full-color ads in Ladies’ Home Journal and Saturday Evening Post seemed to do the trick.
The Cream of Wheat Company outgrew its facilities in Grand Forks by 1897 and moved to Minneapolis that year. It quickly grew to a 110-person staff and 8,000 stockholders. The company management had been in family hands from the beginning.
George Bull died in 1897, and his son, Daniel, led the company from 1919 to 1960, when grandson, David, became CEO. Cream of Wheat remained a one-product company for 64 years until it was sold to the National Biscuit Company (now Nabisco) in 1961.