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What Is Postum?

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  • Written By: Sonal Panse
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
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Postum is a beverage made from roasted grains and molasses that is drunk as a caffeine free and healthier alternative to coffee and tea. It was manufactured commercially from 1895 to 2007, first by the Postum Cereal Company and then by Krafts Food Company. Despite its niche popularity, particularly with the Mormons and health aficionados who eschew caffeinated drinks, it was discontinued due to a drop in overall national sales.

Postum history goes back to 1895 when an American named C.W. Post created the coffee substitute, inspired by a caramel coffee recipe made by Harvey Kellogg; Kellogg happened to be experimenting in the kitchen of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which was run by the Seventh Day Adventists in Michigan, and Post was a patient there then. Post sold the new product as Postum Food Coffee, and formed the Postum Cereal Company to manufacture and sell it.

The beverage became very popular as a coffee substitute during the Second World War when real coffee was strictly rationed or unavailable. It also really caught on with people who for health or religious reasons preferred not to consume drinks that contained caffeine. The Mormons became so enamored with the decaf drink, some of them even started referring to their coffee tables as Postum tables.

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Drinking this coffee substitute was endorsed as a healthier option with none of the side effects associated with coffee. This was often stressed in the beverage advertisements that featured a character called Mister Coffee Nerves. According to the advertisements, all coffee drinkers were susceptible to being attacked by Mister Coffee Nerves; Postum, by virtue of having no caffeine, was the only drink that could save you.

Since the commercial discontinuation of the beverage, diehard fans have had to make do with various Postum substitutes. Many home made recipes for the beverage have also become available online. The principle ingredients used are ground wheat, ground corn and molasses.

To make the beverage at home, combine the above mentioned ingredients and mix them well. Place the mix in a shallow pan and bake until the mix turns dark brown. It will be necessary to stir the mix every fifteen minutes while it is baking to avoid burning it. After the mix has changed color, it should be allowed to cool down properly and then stored in clean, dry containers with sealed caps. The decaf drink can then be brewed in the same way as coffee is.

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