Main ingredients Farina, water or milk
Cream of Wheat is a brand of farina, a type of breakfast porridge mix made from wheat semolina. It looks similar to grits, but is smoother in texture since it is made with ground wheat kernels instead of ground corn. It was first manufactured in the United States in 1893 by wheat millers in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The product made its debut at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. Before January 2007, Cream of Wheat was a Nabisco brand made by Kraft Foods. In January 2007, B&G Foods acquired the brand and all rights to market the cereal. "Cream of Wheat" is a registered trademark.
In addition to its wheat-based products, the rice-based Cream of Rice is also produced as part of the product line, and is often a recommended early food for infants and toddlers and for people who cannot tolerate wheat or gluten, such as persons with celiac sprue disease.
Cream of Wheat is prepared from the box by boiling water or milk, then pouring in the farina while stirring. As it is stirred, the farina starts to thicken. The use of milk instead of (or in addition to) water gives the food a creamier taste.
In the United States market, there are three unflavored mixes available (10-minute, 2 1/2-minute and 1-minute). In the Canadian market, there are two unflavored mixes available (8-minute and 3-minute).
Cream of Wheat is also sold as an instant formulation which includes the use of single-serving packets. These are prepared by simply mixing their contents with hot water and allowing the result to set in a bowl for approximately two minutes.
It is common to customize the hot cereal with the addition of sugar, fruit, or nuts. As a result, several flavors are sold of the instant variety: Original, Apples 'N' Cinnamon, Maple Brown Sugar, Strawberries 'N' Cream, and Cinnamon Swirl. In October 2012, Cream of Wheat added a new chocolate flavor to their instant line. Their most recent addition to the varieties of instant Cream of Wheat Cereals is Bananas & Cream.
The original boxes of Cream of Wheat were handmade and lettered, and emblazoned with the image of an African-American chef produced by Emery Mapes. The character was named Rastus, and was developed by artist Edward V. Brewer. Rastus was included on all boxes and advertisements and continues to be used today with only very slight changes. It has long been thought that a chef named Frank L. White was the model for the chef shown on the Cream of Wheat box, a claim White himself made. White's headstone contains his name and an etching taken from the man depicted on the Cream of Wheat box.
Famous illustrators such as N.C. Wyeth, J.C. Leyendecker & Henry Hutt all created ads for the Cream of Wheat brand.