Cold, flaked cereals were not a part of traditional Native American diets, but many Native Americans on reservations doubtlessly ate them. So did the patients at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians.
Both Sylvester Graham and John Harvey Kellogg (see last post) considered grains part of a healthy diet, and created products that reflected their beliefs. Whether or not Superintendent Harry Hummer also believed this or simply had to take what was issued to him through the Indian Office, he did serve this breakfast food at the asylum.
Meals are important to most people, and they are particular highlights to those forced to live in closed institutions. Many patients at the Canton Asylum were Lakota Sioux, a nation with a strong hunting heritage. What they thought of a bowl of cold cereal is not recorded, but we can assume it was not a highlight of their day. Unfortunately, many inspectors did not find much to commend about any of the meals they saw at the asylum, though a few found the food well-prepared and bountiful. These discrepancies may be the result of seasonal fluctuations in the quality and quantity of food, since Dr. Hummer tried hard to grow the food his patients ate; meals may have also reflected the skill of the institution’s current cook and kitchen staff.
The use of cereal was probably out of Dr. Hummer’s hands, as reflected in his letter to the Kellogg Company in 1929. There was evidently a question concerning which cereal–Bran Flakes or Shredded Krumbles–to send to the asylum, and Hummer replied: . . . as the placing of orders for Annual Estimate items is handled by the various Indian Warehouses, I am unable to advise you as to which of the two items you are to ship to this institution under your contract.” He then gave them the name of the Indian Warehouse supervisor in Chicago for further information.