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Shredded Wheat History Chronology

This page is courtesy of Jean Walton.
Collectible Site for The Shredded Wheat Company,
Niagara Falls, NY
And Its Predecessors And Successors Site

Updates courtesy of Tony Whitney
Development Manager, Research Development, Cereal Partners
Worldwide, Welwyn Garden City, UK.

The product known today as Shredded Wheat was the invention of Henry Perky of Denver, Colorado. In 1892, he took his idea of a product made of boiled wheat to his friend, William H. Ford, in Watertown, NY - a machinist by trade. Here they developed the machine for making a “biscuit,” which they then baked - creating a palatable dry cereal which would keep. Perky’s original intention was to sell the machines, not the biscuits. He returned to Denver and began distributing the biscuits from a horse-drawn wagon in an attempt to popularize the idea. The company he formed was known at the time as The Cereal Machine Company.

The biscuits proved more popular than the machines, however, so Perky moved back East and opened his first bakery in Boston and then in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1895, retaining the name of The Cereal Machine Company, and adding the name of The Shredded Wheat Company.

By 1901, drawn by the idea of an inexpensive form of power for baking, and the natural draw of a popular tourist attraction, he moved his company to Niagara Falls, New York. There it was first known as The Natural Food Conservatory or Company. The factory itself was called "The Palace of Light," and was white-tiled, air-conditioned, well-lit, and equipped with showers, lunchrooms, and auditoriums for the employees. It preceded the Pure Food and Drug Act's requirements for a clean work environment for food production by 6 years.

In 1908, the company again took the name of The Shredded Wheat Company, and another factory was built in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A third plant was added in Niagara Falls, Ontario by 1911, known as The Canadian Shredded Wheat Company. By 1915 The Pacific Coast Shredded Wheat Company had been added in Oakland, California, and by 1926, a factory in England, outside London in Welwyn Garden City, had joined the family.

In December 1928, the company was sold to The National Biscuit Company. For a few years, the product seemed to carry only "The Home of Shredded Wheat" on its products, however, the National Biscuit Company name began to appear by about 1933, and it became known as National Biscuit Shredded Wheat. This changed to Nabisco Shredded Wheat around 1941. Production of Shredded Wheat was begun in Naperville, Illinois in 1970. All the other plants remained in operation, until 1954, when the original "Palace of Light" was shut down.

Update: Nabisco sold the Welwyn Garden City site in 1988 to the UK company Rank Hovis McDougall www.rankhovis.co.uk, who combined it with their existing Viota Foods private label breakfast cereal business in Bromborough, near Liverpool, and their Force Flakes (you know of "Sunny Jim"!) factory at Watford, north-west of London. The RHM breakfast cereals division eventually re-adopted the name "The Shredded Wheat Company". However, less than two years later in 1990, RHM sold its entire breakfast cereals business to the newly-created Nestlé and General Mills joint venture, Cereal Partners.

Back in the U.S.A. in 1993, Nabisco decided to sell the Shredded Wheat brand - attempting first a sale to General Mills, and when that was disallowed, selling it instead to Kraft-General Foods, retaining the Triscuit name and product and thus splitting for the first time the two products originally produced by Henry Perky. Shredded Wheat is now "brought to you by Post," a part of Kraft-GF. Until as late as 2000, it still carried the Nabisco logo on the corner of the box. It now carries only the Post name, with marked changes in the box. With this sale, Kraft-GF acquired the Naperville plant, where Shredded Wheat production continues, and the Canadian plant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, which still produces Shredded Wheat. A third plant in Jonesboro, Arkansas joins these two in the current production of Post Shredded Wheat. Nabisco retained the plant in Niagara Falls, N.Y. for Triscuit production. Until December of 1995, it also continued to make Shredded Wheat biscuits there for Post. The plant in Oakland closed in 1991. In 2000, Kraft-GF [owned by the parent company Altria], acquired all of Nabisco, thus recombining Shredded Wheat and Triscuit under the same parent company. The Niagara Falls, NY plant, however, was closed down on December 13, 2001, and thus neither Shredded Wheat nor Triscuits are made any longer in Niagara Falls, NY, and the big silos stand empty.

Update: The Watford factory closed in 2003 and "Sunny Jim" now lives in Bromborough. Also, Cereal Partners now plans to close its Welwyn Garden City site in 2008, by which time all Shredded Wheat (and Shreddies) production will be from its Staverton site, near Bath (a former Nestlé canned vegetables and dairy desserts factory) which started manufacturing part of the Shreddies range in 1998 and part of the Shredded Wheat range in 1999.

But despite divestments and divisions, production of the original Shredded Wheat product continues in other plants, and for those collectors of memorabilia of it, hopefully will reach well into its second century.

A list of products of the various companies follows, with the National Biscuit Company Nabisco limited to Shredded Wheat Brand line:

The Cereal Machine Co, Worcester, Mass
1895 - 1900
Shredded Whole Wheat Biscuit
Granulated Wheat-Shred
Wheat-Shred Drink
Shredded Cereal Coffee
Wheat-Shred Baby Food
Shredding Machines

The Shredded Wheat Co, Worcester, Mass
1895 - 1900
Shredded Wheat Biscuit
The Natural Food Co, Niagara Falls, NY
1901 - 1905
Shredded Whole Wheat Biscuit
Triscuit (1902)

The Canadian Shredded Wheat Co,Niagara Falls, Ont.
1911 -
Shredded Wheat
Spoon-size Shredded Wheat

Post/Kraft Canada, Niagara Falls, Ont.
1993 -
Shredded Wheat
Spoonsize Shredded Wheat
Golden Honey Shreddies

The Shredded Wheat Co, NF, NY
1908 - 1928
Shredded Whole Wheat Biscuit

The National Biscuit Company, NY, NY
1928 - 1941
Shredded Wheat Triscuit
Spoon-size Shredded Wheat

Nabisco Shredded Wheat, Parsippany, NJ
1941 - 1993
Shredded Wheat Triscuit
Shredded Wheat `n Bran
Shredded Wheat Juniors
Shredded Wheat Spoon-size
Frosted Mini-Bites
Frosted Wheat Squares
Toasted Wheat and Raisins
Fruit Wheats

Post/Kraft-General Foods, Northfield, Ill
1993 - Shredded Wheat
Shredded Wheat Spoon-Size
Frosted Mini-Bites
Honey Nut Shredded Wheat
Shredded Wheat `n Bran

The Shredded Wheat Company, Welwyn Garden City, England
1921 -1988
Welgar Shredded Wheat

Cereal Partners U.K., Welwyn Garden City, Herts, England
1988 -
Nestlé Shredded Wheat
Nestlé Shreddies
Nestlé Honey Nut Shredded Wheat
Nestlé Bitesize Shredded Wheat
Coco Shreddies
Frosted Shreddies
Fruitful Shredded Wheat
Triple Berry Shredded Wheat

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© 2005 Topher

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