« AnteriorContinuar »
CO per cent. Our own homely dish of '' noodles'' can be traced back to a macaroni ancestry
Crackers, Often Called Biscuits (bis cuit, twice baked), are a variety of unleavened bread. They find their way to almost every table in the land. They are usually made from soft wheat flour. "Milk, butter, lard, spices, dried fruits—anything or everything desired to give them particular consistency, color or flavor—is mixed with the flour and water." The manufacture of crackers is a trade by itself, different from ordinary baking, and requiring machinery and processes peculiar to itself. As early as 1875, crackers were made by a rapid and continuous process. Machines mixed the flour and water, pressed the dough into a sheet, cut it and even fed the biscuits into an oven. A traveling stage carried them through the oven. The patent traveling ovens were 30 to 44 feet long, and fitted with endless webs of plates or chains. The chains were used for small fancy biscuits, and the plates for large and plain water biscuits. The rates at which biscuits of different sizes and degrees of richness traversed the length of the oven in order to bake varied from 5 to 40 minutes, and the temperature of the oven was modified to suit various qualities. Both the heat and rate of motion were "under easy and adequate" control.1 Crackers are rarely made in the home. Formerly they were placed upon the market in the bulk, but the package form of the trade has increased so greatly that some companies are rapidly doing away with the less profitable business of selling crackers in the bulk. About 50 different package biscuits are placed upon the market by one company. Perhaps the most interesting form of unleavened breads is the Passover bread, which has been used during Passover week by orthodox Jews from the time of Moses until now. It is not unlike the plain water cracker.
Ready-to-Eat Wheat Foods.—These foods are also known as breakfast foods. Their manufacture dates from 1895, and seems to be confined to the United States. The pioneer in this business was Henry D. Perky, who patented "Shredded
1 In spite of many efforts, the writer was unable to secure any considerable data on any phase of the modern cracker industry. The business is largely monopolized by a few men not affected by the recent wave of publicity. It is rumored that the profits of the business are too great to make publicity advisable.
Wheat Biscuit" in 1895. This product contains every portion of the wheat kernel. The whole wheat is cooked without being flavored, and then mechanically ground into filaments. It is formed into miniature loaves and baked. The distinctiveness of this food has always been retained and has never been successfully imitated. It stands in a class by itself and is in great favor with American consumers.
The great development of the breakfast food industry has centered at Battle Creek, Michigan. John H. Kellogg patented "Cranose Flakes" in 1895. It consisted of the whole wheat, which was cooked, slightly flavored with salt, rolled into thin flakes, and baked. It was the first flaked wheat food that met with considerable sale. Charles W. Post began the manufacture of "Grape Nuts" in 1896. This product is made from wheat and barley ground together into flour, baked into bread, toasted, and finally crushed to granular form. The food is distinguished by its hardness, its amber color, and its large percentage of dextrine. The products "Malta Vita" and "Ready Bits" were the result of experiments conducted at Battle Creek in 1898. The former consisted of cleansed whole wheat seasoned with salt, and treated with malt extract for the predigestion of starches before it was finally baked. "Force," brought out a few months later, was manufactured in a similar manner. "Ready Bits" was not perfected until 1903. "Its form is distinctive, consisting of readhering particles of disintegrated cooked wheat, from which the excess starch has been removed by the use of an enzyme." All of these three foods attained national distribution. By 1903 at least 50 undistinctive brands of ready-to-serve wheat flakes were upon the market, and nearly all of them were made from whole wheat cooked, salted, rolled and baked. Their merit depended upon the quality of the material and the care and skill used in their preparation. Their success was proportional to the vigor and intelligence with which they were advertised. The total annual output of ready-to-serve wheat foods was estimated to have a value of $11,000,000.
In 1903, 18,191 families were visited in a house-to-house canvass of the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Seventy-six per cent were found to be users of ready-to-eat cereal foods. The number of the families of the different nationalities who were users and non-users of these cereal foods appears in the table below:1
The analysis ' of some of the leading ready-to-serve wheat foods indicates the following average percentages of constituent substances:
Cereal breakfast foods have been more extensively and ingeniously advertised than any other class of foods. Such a bewildering variety is upon the market that it is difficult to make an intelligent choice between them. They are very convenient for use and give a pleasant variety in food. It is claimed, however, that "at the usual prices the nutrients in ready-toeat cereals are considerably dearer than those furnished by bread and crackers." Where strict economy is not essential, the special convenience and variety is often considered to be worth the additional cost.
1 For all of the preceding data concerning ready-to-serve wheat foods, the writer Is indebted to Mr Burrltt Hamilton, formerly President of the Ready Bits Company.
3 U. S. Dept. Agr., Farm Bui. 105, p. 20.
During the first few years of the twentieth century, the most active competition prevailed between the numerous companies manufacturing ready-to-serve breakfast foods. Events in this business happened with kaleidoscopic rapidity. During the years of 1902 and 1903 there was an overproduction of cereal foods which caused a protracted glut in the market. Many of the younger companies were unable to continue in the business, and failed. The survivors are now doing a satisfactory business, and the making of cereal foods has settled down to a staple milling industry.
The Natural Food Company, the present manufacturer of shredded wheat, has a conservatory overlooking Niagara Falls. It is one of the finest food factories in the world. Power is furnished by electricity from the Falls, and the total cost of the building and equipment was $2,000,000. The united structure covers an area of 55,653 square feet. It has 5.5 acres of floor space, and a frontage of 900 feet on the upper Niagara Rapids. Educational features have been established, and there is an auditorium, seating over 1000, for entertainments, lectures, and conventions. Its food has been a great commercial success, and is one of the best selling products on the American market today. Some of its products are also exported.
Grape Nuts is an unpatented food. The manufacturing company relies on its trade marks for protection. By vigorous advertising it has created an extensive demand for its goods in the United States and in some foreign countries.
"From 100,000 to 125,000 one-pound packages are put up daily, representing a daily consumption of 1,500,000 of portions. In the manufacture of Postum Food Coffee and Grape Nuts, about 2,200 bushels of wheat are consumed daily. These two products are mostly used by the English speaking race, but are being gradually introduced in all the commercial centers of the world. Stocks of both products are carried in all the prominent cities of the United States, Canada and England. Some 625 male and female employes find employment throughout different parts of the factory. The capital employed by the Postum Cereal Company is $5,000,000. Their expenditure for advertising is one million dollars per annum."1
Adulterations.—There are many substances that have been used to adulterate and cheapen flour. Among the vegetable substances are rye flour, corn and rice meal, potato starch, and meals from leguminous plants, such as peas and beans. Among the mineral substances are alum, borax, chalk, carbonate of magnesia, bone, and various clays. Alum in any form is harmful and the use of the others is reprehensible, for they often make a poor bread seem good. The addition up to 20 per cent of cornstarch can be used with high glutinous flours, but it produces a much drier loaf, lacking flavor. Terra alba has been widely used for adulteration in foreign countries, but at least as late as 1894 there was no knowledge of its having been used in the United States. Mineraline, one of its forms, was, however, subsequently used.2 The poorer classes of people sometimes adulterate the flour themselves. For example, it is said that the Scandinavian peasants at times mix half flour and half ground tree bark in their loaf. In the United States, an internal-revenue tax was levied on mixed flour by the war-revenue act of 1898. It largely stopped the mixing of cornstarch or corn flour with wheat flour, a practice that had been frequent.
Wheat Products as Animal Food.—All of the grain of wheat which is unfit for flour is generally fed to animals. Wheat that finds poor sale for any reason, as for example goose wheat and durum wheat in former times, is often fed to stock. In times of very low prices, even the bread wheats are extensively fed. During 1893 over four million bushels, or 16.5 per cent of the total wheat crop of Kansas, were fed to farm animals. Authorities, however, do not seem to be agreed as to the value of wheat for feeding. For certain feeding purposes it seems to have advantages over corn and other grains, while for other purposes it has disadvantages. It should generally be fed with other grains, and its food value is slightly increased by grinding. Wheat should not form more than half the grain ration. All classes of domestic animals are fond of wheat in any form.
1 Letter, Postum Cereal Co.. Ltd.
2 Industrial Commission, 11:2.