Quaker Oats Company

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The Quaker Oats Company
Industry Food
Founded Ravenna, Ohio (1877 (1877))
Founder Henry Parsons Crowell
Headquarters Chicago, Illinois
Area served
Key people
John Compton (CEO)
  • Oats
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Snacks
Owner PepsiCo
Subsidiaries Gatorade
Slogan Quaker Up
Website quakeroats.com

The Quaker Oats Company is an American food conglomerate based in Chicago. It has been owned by PepsiCo since 2001.[1]


1905 magazine advertisement

Quaker Oats was founded in 1901 by the merger of four oat mills:

The company expanded into numerous areas, including other breakfast cereals and other food and drink products, and even into unrelated fields such as toys.

In 1968, a plant was built in Danville, Illinois. This plant currently makes Aunt Jemima pancake mixes, Oat Squares, Life Cereals Quaker Oh's, Bumpers, Quisp, King Vitamin Natural Granola Cereals, and Chewy granola bars, as well as Puffed Rice for use as an ingredient for other products in other plants.

In 1969, Quaker acquired Fisher-Price, a toy company and spun it off in 1991.

In the 1970s, the company financed the making of the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, obtaining in return a license to use a number of the product names mentioned in the movie for candy bars.

In 1982 Quaker Oats formed US Games, a company that created games for the Atari 2600. It went out of business after one year. That same year, Quaker Oats acquired Florida-based orange juice plant Ardmore Farms, which it would own until selling it to Country Pure Foods in 1998.[9][10]

In 1983, Quaker bought Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., makers of Van Camp's and Gatorade.[11]

Quaker bought Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994 and sold it to Triarc in 1997 for $300 million.[12] Triarc sold it to Cadbury Schweppes for $1.45 billion in September 2000.[13] It was spun off in May 2008 to its current owners, Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

In 1996, Quaker spun off its frozen food business, selling it to Aurora Foods (which was bought by Pinnacle Foods in 2004).

In August 2001, Quaker was bought out by Pepsico because Pepsi wanted to add Gatorade to its arsenal of beverages and thus break into the isotonic sports beverage market. The merger created the fourth-largest consumer goods company in the world. Though the main prize for PepsiCo was Gatorade noncarbonated sports drink, Quaker's cereal and snack food division serves as a seemingly healthier complement to the existing Frito-Lay division of salty snacks.[citation needed]

Since the late 1980s, actor Wilford Brimley has appeared in television commercials extolling the virtues of oat consumption, typically to a young child, as to introduce the concept of oatmeal consumption as a long tradition.

Canadian operations

Quaker Oats facility in Peterborough

The major Canadian production facility for Quaker Oats is located in Peterborough, Ontario. The factory was first established as the American Cereal Company[14] in 1902 on the shores of the Otonabee River during that city's period of industrialization. On 11 December 1916, the factory all but completely burned to the ground. When the smoke had settled, 23 people had died and Quaker was left with $2,000,000 in damages. Quaker went on to rebuild the facility incorporating the few areas of the structure that were not destroyed by fire. When PepsiCo purchased Quaker Oats in 2001, many brands were consolidated from facilities around Canada to the Peterborough location—which assumed the new QTG moniker (Quaker Tropicana Gatorade). Local production includes Quaker Oatmeal, Quaker Chewy bars, Cap'n Crunch cereal, Aunt Jemima instant pancake mixes and pancake syrups, Quaker Oat Bran and Corn Bran cereals, Gatorade sportdrinks and the Propel fitness water sub-brand, Tropicana juices, and various Frito-Lay snack products. Products are easily identified by the manufactured by address on the packaging. The Peterborough facility exports to the majority of Canada and limited portions of the United States. The Quaker plant sells cereal production byproducts to companies that use them to create fire logs, pellets and janks.

Land giveaways in cereal boxes

Starting in 1902, the company's oatmeal boxes came with a coupon redeemable for the legal deed to a tiny lot in Milford, Connecticut. The lots, sometimes as small as 10 feet by 10 feet, were carved out of a 15-acre, never-built subdivision called "Liberty Park". A small number of children (or their parents), often residents living near Milford, redeemed their coupons for the free deeds and started paying the extremely small property taxes on the "oatmeal lots". The developer of the prospective subdivision hoped the landowners would hire him to build homes on the lots, although several tracts would need to be combined before building could start. The legal deeds created a large amount of paperwork for town tax collectors, who frequently couldn't find the property owners and received almost no tax revenue from them. In the mid-1970s, the town put an end to the oatmeal lots with a "general foreclosure" condemning nearly all of the property, which is now part of a BiC Corporation plant.[15]

In 1955, Quaker Oats again gave away land as part of a promotion, this one tied to the Sergeant Preston of the Yukon television show in the United States. The company offered in its Puffed Wheat and Puffed Rice cereal boxes genuine deeds to land in the Klondike.[15]

The Quaker man logo versus Quakers

Quaker Oats box, featuring the "Quaker Man" logo

Today, the company states that "The 'Quaker man' does not represent an actual person. His image is that of a man dressed in Quaker garb, chosen because the Quaker faith projected the values of honesty, integrity, purity and strength."[16]

However, early Quaker Oats advertising dating back to 1909 did, indeed, identify the "Quaker man" as William Penn, the 17th-century philosopher and early Quaker, and referred to him as "standard bearer of the Quakers and of Quaker Oats."[17] Resembling classic woodcuts of Penn's likeness, starting in 1877 the figure was depicted full-length, sometimes holding a scroll with the word "Pure" written across it.[18]

In 1946, graphic designer Jim Nash created a black-and-white head-and-shoulders portrait of the smiling Quaker Man, and Haddon Sundblom's now-familiar color head-and-shoulders portrait (using fellow Coca-Cola artist Harold W. McCauley as the model) debuted in 1957. The monochromatic 1969 Quaker Oats Company logo, modeled after the Sundblom illustration, was created by Saul Bass, a graphic designer known for his motion picture title sequences and corporate logos. In 2012, the company enlisted the firm of Hornall Anderson to give the 'Quaker man' a slimmer, somewhat younger look.[19][20] The man is now sometimes referred to as "Larry" by insiders at Quaker Oats.[21] And in 1965, a new advertising slogan was introduced: "Nothing is better for thee, than me". The company has never had any ties with the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). When the company was being built up, Quaker businessmen were known for their honesty (truth is often considered a Quaker testimony). The Straight Dope writes "According to the good folks at Quaker Oats, the Quaker Man was America's first registered trademark for a breakfast cereal, his registration taking place on September 4th, 1877." [22]

Members of the Religious Society of Friends have occasionally expressed frustration at being confused with the Quaker Oats representation.[23][24] In recent years, Friends have twice protested the Quaker name being used for advertising campaigns seen as promoting violence. In 1990, some Quakers started a letter-writing campaign after a Quaker Oats advertisement depicted Popeye as a "Quakerman" who used violence against aliens, sharks, and Bluto.[25] Later that decade, more letters were sparked by Power Ranger toys included in Cap'n Crunch cereal.[26]

Informed consent controversy, research on children

In the 1950s, researchers from Quaker Oats Company, MIT and Harvard University carried out experiments at the Walter E. Fernald State School to determine how the minerals from cereals were metabolized. Parents of mentally challenged children were asked for permission to let their children be members of a Science Club and participate in research. Being a member of the Science Club gave the children special privileges. The parents were told that the children would be fed with a diet high in nutrients. However, they were not told (and the consent form contained no information indicating) that the food their children were fed contained radioactive calcium and iron.[27] The information obtained from the experiments was to be used as part of an advertising campaign.[28] The company was later sued because of the experiments. The lawsuit was settled on 31 December 1997.[29]

Trans fat content and litigation

In 2010, two California consumers filed a class action lawsuit against the Quaker Oats Company. Plaintiffs allege that Quaker marketed its products as healthy even though they contained unhealthy trans fat. Specifically, Quaker's Chewy Granola Bars, Instant Oatmeal, and Oatmeal to Go Bars contained trans fat,[30] yet their packaging featured claims like "heart healthy," "wholesome," and "smart choices made easy."[31]

Plaintiffs' complaint cites current scientific evidence that trans fat causes coronary heart disease[32] and is associated with a higher risk of diabetes[33] and some forms of cancer.[30][34]

In 2014, Quaker agreed to remove trans fats from its products at a cost of $1.4 million, although they deny false or misleading labelling.[35]

US brands

As of 2005, these are the product brands marketed under the Quaker Oats name in the US:

Breakfast cereals

  • Cap'n Crunch
  • Life cereal
  • Quisp
  • Mother's Natural Foods
  • Quaker 100% Natural Granola
  • Kretschmer Wheat Germ
  • Mr. T Cereal
  • Muffets ("The round shredded wheat")
  • Quaker Oatmeal Squares
  • Quaker Toasted Oatmeal
  • Quaker Oh's
  • Quaker Corn Bran
  • Quaker Oat Bran
  • Quaker Puffed Rice
  • Quaker Puffed Wheat
  • Quaker Oatmeal with Dinosaur Eggs
  • Graham Bumpers
  • Coco Bumpers
  • King Vitaman

Other breakfast foods

  • Quaker Oatmeal
  • Quaker Oatmeal To Go (re-branded from Breakfast Squares in 2006)
  • Quaker Grits
  • Aunt Jemima Syrups and Mixes (Aunt Jemima frozen breakfast foods is owned by Pinnacle Foods, who use the Aunt Jemima trademark under license from Quaker Oats Company)
  • Quaker Breakfast Cookies
  • Quaker Instant Oatmeal


Chewy Granola Bar
  • Quaker Crispy Minis (Rice Chips and Rice Cakes) (known as Snack-a-Jacks in the UK)
  • Quakes Rice Snacks
  • Quaker Soy Crisps
  • Quaker Snack Bars
  • Chewy Granola Bars
  • Quaker Mini Delights
  • Yogurt bars
  • Cookies
  • Greek Yogurt

Blueberry Crisp



  • Milk Chillers
  • Tropicana fruit Juices
  • Sunbolt (defunct)
  • Moneng Refreshing Drinks
  • Moneng Oat Power (Isotonic Drink)

UK brands

As of 2008, these are the product brands marketed under the Quaker Oats name in the UK:[36]

Hot cereals

(the Scott's brand, previously a rival, is now also owned by Quaker)

  • Pawridge

Ready to eat cereal

  • Harvest Crunch

Cereal bars

  • Oat Bars (Original with golden syrup or Mixed berry flavors)


  • Snackajacks bags
  • Snackajacks Jumbos


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External links