Advertisement from 1910

Postum is a powdered roasted-grain beverage once popular as a coffee substitute. The caffeine-free beverage was created by Postum Cereal Company founder C. W. Post in 1895 and marketed as a healthful alternative to coffee.[1]:93 The Postum Cereal Company eventually became General Foods, which was bought by Kraft Foods. Post was a student of John Harvey Kellogg, who believed that caffeine was unhealthy.

The "instant" drink mix version was developed in 1912, replacing the original brewed beverage.[2] Postum is made from roasted wheat bran, wheat and molasses. This 10‑calorie beverage is caffeine-free, fat-free, trans-fat-free, sodium-free, and kosher.

In addition to the original flavor, a coffee-flavored version was introduced.


Lost Eyesight through Coffee Drinking
 Postum advertisement[1]:95

Postum quickly became popular, making Post wealthy. The aggressive advertising, with the mysterious slogan "There's a Reason", warned against coffee and caffeine's alleged dangers, and promoted the benefits of Postum. When imitations appeared, the company introduced a cheaper drink, Monk's Brew, identical to Postum, then discontinued it after competitors left the market. Instant Postum appeared in 1911.[1]:93-98

Although the Postum Cereal Company explicitly stated in its advertising that Postum did not taste like coffee and was not a coffee substitute,[3] the drink enjoyed an enormous rise in sales and popularity in the US during World War II when coffee was rationed and people sought a replacement.[1]:223

Postum was sometimes marketed by a cartoon ghost named Mister Coffee Nerves,[4] who would appear in situations wherein people were shown in uncomfortable life-situations (e.g., irritability, lack of sleep, lack of athletic prowess) due to their use of coffee and its negative effects. These cartoons always ended with the afflicted people switching to Postum and Mister Coffee Nerves fleeing until the next cartoon.[5] The company sponsored the radio shows Lum and Abner, Beulah and The Aldrich Family, and the radio version of Father Knows Best.

Postum was popular with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and part of Mormon culture for many years because Mormons abstain from coffee.[6][7] It was also popular with those following religious dietary restrictions within the Seventh-day Adventists, and has a historic tie with that faith.[8]

The US government used Postum as a code name for Polonium,[9] used in the Urchin style nuclear weapon initiators.

Kraft discontinued production of Postum in 2007.[6][7][8][10] In May 2012, Kraft licensed the Postum trademark to Eliza’s Quest Food, with Postum sold through the website.[11] As of January 2013, Eliza's Quest Food succeeded in returning Postum to a limited number of stores, primarily in Utah and other Mountain States.[12]

In popular culture

In the January 1992 episode of the sitcom Seinfeld, "The Pez Dispenser" (season 3, episode 14), George Costanza wonders why Postum is not a more popular drink. Jerry agrees that Postum is underrated.[13]

In an episode of The Simpsons titled "Homer the Smithers", Mr Burns scolds Homer's postum-making: "You call this Postum?"

In the late night radio show Loveline, Adam Carolla often tells Dr. Drew to "calm down and have a cup of Postum."

In South Park's "Gnomes" episode, Tweek's parents' coffee house is on the verge of being bought out by a competitor (Harbuck's Coffee, a parody of Starbuck's Coffee). The representative's name is Mr. Postum.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Pendergrast, Mark (2010) [2001]. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World (Rev. ed.). New York City: Basic Books. ISBN 9780465018369. OCLC 609871227.
  2. Clarke, R.J.; Macrae, R., eds. (1987), Coffee (Volume 5): Related Beverages, Springer, pp. 98–99, ISBN 9781851661039
  3. ""Now, how did I ever get that idea?" (advertisement)". Life. 1942-11-23. p. 73. Retrieved November 22, 2011.
  4. Young, William H.; Young, Nancy K. (2007), "Coffee & Tea", The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 1, Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, p. 101, ISBN 978-0-313-33521-1
  5. Lileks, James. "The Adventures of Mr. Coffee Nerves". Retrieved 2008-03-01.
  6. 1 2 Israelsen-Hartley, Sara (January 1, 2008), "Fans in withdrawal from coffee substitute Postum", Deseret News, retrieved 2012-11-21
  7. 1 2 Stephenson, Kathy (January 1, 2008), "Mormons mourn Postum's passing", The Salt Lake Tribune, retrieved 2012-11-21
  8. 1 2 Rowe, Taashi (January 16, 2008). "Goodbye to Postum". Adventist News Network. Retrieved 2014-07-20.
  9. Injecting Polonium into Humans, Federation of American Scientists, December 12th, 2006 by Steven Aftergood
  10. Fisher, Jenna (March 12, 2008), "Can Postum fans revive their beloved beverage?", The Christian Science Monitor, retrieved 2012-11-21
  11. "About our product",, Eliza's Quest Foods, retrieved 2013-01-31
  12. "Where To Buy",, Eliza's Quest Foods, retrieved 2013-01-31
  13. Dave Skoloda, "Postum to be a postscript", La Crosse Tribune, January 24, 2008.

Further reading

External links

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