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The Food Disruptors

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

Henry Crowell (1855-1944) gave us Quaker Oats for breakfast. Before he began mass-marketing a commodity, oats were generally regarded as horse food. The occasional immigrant housewife (Irish, Scottish, or German) might cook chopped oats into a porridge, if she cared to spend hours at it. Ferdinand Schumacher 1822-1908 Henry Parsons Crowell 1855-1944 Rolled Oats Steel-cut Oats Among the first capitalists to try to persuade more people to eat wholesome, inexpensive oats for breakfast was a German immigrant, Ferdinand Schumacher (1822-1908). He ran a grocery story in Akron, Ohio. A strait-laced religious man (he hated alcohol, tobacco, and fun), he innovated a steel oat-cutter that made the oats easier to cook. Grocery customers loved these steel-cut oats. Seeing an opportunity among the many millraces of Akron, Schumacher became a miller. Schumacher further developed his oat processing into a rolled oat product. In a few years, he ran the biggest oat mill in the country. Schumacher still dominated, but then his mill burned to the ground. He carried no insurance (Schumacher's reasoned that calamities were his god's way of punishing sinners, therefore insurance was sinful since it sought to avoid the punishment). Like Grandmother Donovan's Double Boiler for Making Oatmeal Eventually, after much stubbornness and soul-searching, Schumacher merged with another Akron miller. Nevertheless, fierce price competition was driving all the oat millers into the ground. Enter a young innovator who had just bought the nearby Ravenna Quaker Mill that boasted Schumacher's innovative equipment. Henry Parsons Crowell proposed the formation of an oat trust to set prices. After much under-handed dealing and double-crossing, and two failed trust formations, Crowell gained control of a unified company using the Quaker brand and differentiating their commodity by packaging it in brightly branded cardboard boxes. The rest is Quaker Oats History. Quaker Oats Man Slims Down The Oatmeal Wars Ferdinand Schumacher story Cosmopolitan Magazine, 1900s. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)