Postum was a popular non-caffeinated beverage that was first introduced in the late 19th century. It was created in 1895 by a pharmacist named Charles William Post who was trying to find a substitute for coffee that was healthier and didn’t contain caffeine.
Post, who had a history of working for health-obsessed John Harvey Kellogg, first came up with the idea for Postum after suffering from health problems. He believed that they were aggravated by his consumption of coffee. Post began experimenting with different grains and other ingredients to create a drink that would be a healthier alternative to coffee.
The Right Ingredients
After years of experimenting, Post finally came up with a recipe for Postum that he was satisfied with. The drink was made from wheat bran, wheat, and molasses. Later versions of Postum also included chicory root, which gave the drink a slightly bitter taste that was more reminiscent of coffee. Some other variations of Postum also included other ingredients such as corn and barley.
Chicory is a plant that is related to the dandelion. Its roots are often used as a coffee substitute or additive, as they can be roasted and ground to produce a coffee-like flavor. Chicory root is naturally caffeine-free and has a slightly bitter taste that is similar to coffee. It has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, and it is also used as a food ingredient in some cultures.
Chicory root is a good source of inulin, a type of dietary fiber that can promote digestive health. In the context of Postum, chicory root was added to the original recipe to give the beverage a more coffee-like taste.
Promoting the Product
Post began marketing Postum as a health drink, claiming that it was a great alternative to coffee because it didn’t contain caffeine. He also claimed that it had a number of health benefits, including aiding digestion and promoting relaxation. In fact, Post gained his early fortune from Postum before venturing into the sale of breakfast cereal.
Advertisements sprung up in newspapers and magazines using the slogan “There’s a Reason”. Religious groups such as the Mormons and Seventh Day Adventists, discouraged consumption of stimulants such as caffeine. They accounted for a lot of Postum sales. It was marketed as a drink that could be enjoyed at any time of day. It was often served as a hot beverage with milk and sugar.
Over the years, Postum went through a number of changes. In the early 20th century, the drink was reformulated to include chicory, which gave it a slightly bitter taste that was more reminiscent of coffee. Advertising changed too. A comic strip series promoted Postum as a way to escape the villain, “Mr. Coffee Nerves”. The cartoons depicted Postum improving overall health. It improved everything from academics and sports performance, to one’s love life.
Sales Boosted During Rationing
During World War II, Postum became even more popular as coffee became more difficult to obtain. Many people turned to Postum as a substitute for coffee, and the drink became a staple in many households.
In the decades that followed, however, Postum began to lose its popularity. As coffee became more widely available and other non-caffeinated drinks were introduced, Postum’s sales began to decline.
In 2007, the company that produced Postum announced that it would be discontinuing the drink due to declining sales.
History of Ownership
The Postum brand was originally owned by the Postum Cereal Company, which was founded by Charles William Post in 1895. After Post’s death in 1914, the company was run by his daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, who later became the owner of the General Foods Corporation. The Postum brand was later acquired by Kraft Foods, which merged with the H.J. Heinz Company to become Kraft Heinz in 2015. At some point, Eliza’s Quest Food took over rights to the Postum name.
- Year Started: 1895
- Year Ended: 2007
- Origin Of Name: Name of Founder
- Location Sales: Worldwide
- Brand Name Predecessor: N/A
- Brand Name Successor: N/A
- Owner Original: Charles W. Post
- Owner While In Use: Several
- Owner Successor: Eliza’s Quest Food
- Year Resurrected: N/A
- What’s Popular Today: BarleyCup
- Naics Code: 311920
- Location Headquarters: Battle Creek, Michigan, USA