National Trail Mix Day is August 31st
So you want to be healthy, huh? Then get yourself some trail mix man, chew a bit, and voila, you are healthier than before. You see I grew up in the 70’s when trail mix was becoming more popular – this was before energy drinks for those kids who don’t know or understand – and yeah it was a time even before Cable TV was easily available and something you paid for on a monthly basis. Don’t even talk to me about cell phones.
I can even recall those old fashioned cable boxes that were hooked to the TV. You would drag a keyboard sized box to your couch and push the buttons referring to which Chanel you wished to watch, the chord would only go so far – back then HBO would repeated replay the same movies….but it was a gas, just as much as some trail mix can give you today.
So speaking of gas, trail mix, the trail mix industry has become something of an amazing industry all unto itself. But what is trail mix? Trail Mix first started with granola being a major component to Trail Mix- which has been around for a long time… here is what wikipedia.com says about granola:
The names Granula, Granola and Ganolietta were trademarks in the late nineteenth century United States for foods consisting of whole grain products crumbled and baked until crispy; compare the contemporary Swiss invention, muesli. The name is no longer trademarked except in Australia where it is by the Australian Health & Nutrition Association Ltd.’s Sanitarium Health Food Company.
Granula was invented in Dansville, New York, by Dr. James Caleb Jackson at the Jackson Sanitarium in 1863. The Jackson Sanitarium was a prominent health spa that operated into the early twentieth century on the hillside overlooking Dansville. It was also known as Our Home on the Hillside and so the company formed to sell his cereal was known as the Our Home Granula Company. Granula was made of Graham flour and similar to oversized Grape-Nuts.
A similar cereal was developed by John Harvey Kellogg. It too was initially known as Granula, but the name was changed to Granola to avoid legal problems with Jackson.
The food and name were revived in the 1960s, and fruits and nuts were added to it to make it a health food popular with the hippie movement. Several people claim to have revived or re-invented granola then.
A major promoter was Layton Gentry, profiled in Time as “Johnny Granola-Seed”. In 1964, Gentry sold the rights to a granola recipe using oats, which he claimed to have invented himself, to Sovex Natural Foods for $3,000. The company was founded in 1953 in Holly, Michigan by the Hurlinger family to make a concentrated paste of brewers yeast and soy sauce named Sovex. Earlier in 1964, it had been bought by John Goodbrad and moved to Collegedale, Tennessee. In 1967, Gentry bought back the rights for west of the Rockies for $1,500 and then sold the West Coast rights to Wayne Schlotthauer of Lassen Foods in Chico, California for $18,000. Lassen was founded from a health food bakery run by Schlotthauer’s father-in-law. The Hurlingers, Goodbrads, and Schlotthauers were all Adventists and it is possible that Gentry was a lapsed Adventist who was familiar with the earlier granola.
In 1972, Jim Matson, an executive at Pet Milk (later Pet Incorporated) of Saint Louis, Missouri, introduced Heartland Natural Cereal, the first major commercial granola. At almost the same time, Quaker introduced Quaker 100% Natural Granola. Within a year, Kellogg’s introduced Country Morning and General Mills Nature Valley.
In 1974, McKee Baking (later McKee Foods), makers of Little Debbie snack cakes, purchased Sovex. In 1998, they also acquired the Heartland brand and moved its manufacturing to Collegedale. In 2004, Sovex’s name was changed to Blue Planet Foods.
“Granola bars” were invented by Stanley Mason  and have become popular as a snack. The granola bars are identical to normal granola except in their shape. Instead of a loose, breakfast cereal consistency, granola bars are pressed into a bar shape and baked into that shape. The result was a more convenient snack.
Another variety is the chewy granola bar. In this variety, the oats are not baked as long (or at all) for a chewy texture. Some question whether such a snack should be called granola at all; in fact, some manufacturers prefer cereal bar or snack bar.
“Granola” – the other meanings
“Granola” is also used as a slang term (metonym) describing a person who is hippie-like, a modern bohemian, environmentalist, or leftist in outlook. The protagonist of Neal Stephenson‘s Zodiac delights in the nickname “Granola James Bond”. It is also used to refer to cannabis.
Granola can also refer to a style of dress which is independent of an individual’s political or philosophical ideology. A Health Food store is sometimes referred to as a “Granola Factory”.
Granola is also a variety of potato cultivated in Europe and some parts of Asia.
Now that I have learned a thing or two about granola, I’m on the trail of trail mix. I recently caught on the Foodnetwork a show I love to watch (airs on Friday mornings 10:00am EST) called ‘Recipes for Success’ which highlights people who are about to embark in going into the food business or who have already started and are still struggling with their successes and failures. If you should want to learn a thing or two from other people’s experiences before starting your own restaurant or bagel business for example, catch this show – it really is quite interesting.
Anyhooo, they highlighted an interesting couple who invented Bear Naked Granola which comes in many forms. The show tells their story from the beginning of their business to where they were about a year ago, which is quite interesting – their product does not fail either – being extremely organic in every way, not just in their products. They have had unheard of success and wish them continued success as well.
Trail Mixes started out as additional choices to the energy food bars to provide hikers and campers with quick energy-filled, vitamin packed quick goodies that could travel in harsh conditions and when they needed a quick pick me up due to the rigorous healthy activity such as hiking, sailing and other healthy activities . Actually, they were invented long before the ‘power bar’ came to be, and as there are as many types of energy bars out there, there are many varieties of trail mixes you can purchase online, at the store and recipes for which you to make your very own trail mixes.
One of my own is fun to make and is great at parties – though due to the chocolate, it might not be the lightest in calories…
Leah’s Fun Granola Trail Mix:
- 2 cups milk chocolate morsels
- 2 cups granola
- 3-4 cups mixed nuts – salted or not
- 1 cup soy nuts
- 1-1/2 cup raisins
- 1 cup toasted coconut – make your own by placing coconut on cookie sheet and allow to bake at 325 for 15 minutes, stirring on occasion to brown evenly – allow to cool before adding to your trail mix.
- 1 cup sunflower seeds (the kernels – the the seed pods loaded with salt)
- couldn’t be easier – simply put all ingredients in a large bowl, stir till combined, then put in sealed containers and travel baggies when you need something at work to munch on.
Here is another recipe for your hiking pleasure from cooks.com:
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dried pineapple
1 cup dried apple pieces
1 cup peanuts
1 cup cashews
1 cup almonds
1 cup marshmallows (any kind)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup peanutbutter chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
Simply once again put into large bowl and mix to combine.
So happy trails are here…… music hums in head, horse pulls forward, and off I go down an unbeaten path…
Does anyone hear remember those old cable boxes I speak of, along with their first experience with granola or trail mix? Do share your hippiness with us all….
peace man, peace