Breakfast cereal is the all-American food. Created by eccentric health reformers more than a hundred years ago, the strangely shaped bits of flavored grain have become a staple of the American diet, eaten by more than 80 million everyday. The ready to eat breakfast cereals began with the American temperance movement in the nineteenth century. In 1830s, Reverend Sylvester Graham preached the virtues of a vegetarian diet to his congregation and in particular the importance of wholemeal flour. Meat eating he said, excited the carnal passions.The road to nutritional corruption opened up early. The Kellogg brothers argued over whether to make the cereals more palatable by adding sugar – the addition was anathema to John who saw sugar as an adulterant and a scourge, but William reckoned it was needed to stop the products tasting like 'horse-food'. WK won. In the last century, more than 1000 cereal brands have been created in the United States alone and uses 816 million pounds of sugar per year.
Many of the health benefits claimed for breakfast cereals depended on fortification rather than micro nutrients from the raw ingredients, most of which were either destroyed by the process or stripped away before it. Fortification principle purposed is marketing an empty box of promise that was once created by a group of fundamentalist healers that sometimes even invented diseases which cereals could cure.
A chance meeting on a train in1949 between the then chairman of Kellogg's and an advertizing man called Leo Burnett
Enri¢hed invites participants to design their own fortified box of cereal. It can be logical, fantasy, or political to the sublime. The artist will be present, wearing a scientific lab coat, asking audiences to write down their ideas and add them to a raffle drum. The public will be asked to randomly draw these pieces of paper and then create packaging for their product with provided markers. All the while, the space will be “raining” with cereal by way of a confetti blower.
By scattering cereal, the artist makes reference to “killing the rat”: in 1970, Robert Choate, an advisor to President Nixon, analyzed sixty well-known cereal brands for nutritional quality and concluded that rats fed a diet of ground up cereal boxes with sugar, milk and raisins were healthier than rats fed the cereal itself. The backdrop for Enriched will consist of taglines from various cereal brands.
Commissioned by Umami Food & Art Festival 2012, 3rd Ward, Brooklyn, April 20, 2012, 7pm-9pm
Thank you for all the support and assistant from Yeal Raviv, Ame Gilbert, SamanthaTella and Ariela Kader.