Saturday, May 12, 2007

Postum if you got 'em



This morning I ventured out to the dreaded Wal-Mart to see if I could get my hands on a jar of Postum. Yes, Postum. It's a caffeine-free coffee substitute invented by noted cereal baron and whacko, C.W. Post in the late 19th century. (He also invented Grape Nuts, a cereal that contains no grape and no nuts. The man was a genius!) Post (a follower of another cereal barron, whacko, anti-masturbation crusader, and enema enthusiast, John Harvey Kellogg) considered coffee unhealthy and came up with a substitute made of wheat bran, wheat, molasses, and corn dextrin. All of this is roasted and ground up until it looks sort of like instant coffee. (In the South during the Civil War, the North cut off coffee supplies so it was common for people to roast things like grain, chicory, peanuts, acorns and brew them like coffee. My guess this is where Post got the idea from.)

I found it without much too much difficulty right there in the coffee and tea aisle. Postum! At last, victory was mine! So I grabbed a jar and made my way up to the checkout line to pay for it. No doubt I didn't impress the chunky goth-lite girl behind the cash register because the only people who buy Postum are older than your grandparents. Once the last of the people who remember WWII die off, Kraft Foods will probably dump Postum. But let's hope not.

So, this Postum, you ask, what does it taste like? At first I was afraid it would taste like off-brand dollar store instant coffee (or worse, Folgers) because that's kind of what it smelled like. But much to my surprise, Postum is actually kind of good. It does taste a little like cheap instant coffee, but it doesn't have that rank, burnt taste instant coffee always has. And it thankfully doesn't taste like Folgers instant. I like it. I can't say I'd want to give up real coffee for it or that I would want to drink it everyday, but I do like it. And I suspect it would go well with ice cream.

Addendum: This originally was a comment, but apparently it had too many links in it and Haloscan wouldn't let me post it.

The German coffee substitute I mentioned in my reply to Xolo's comment is called Pero, and it's actually Swiss, not German. Another Swiss one is Cafix.

There's a Bolivian one called Café de Cebada.

And on the herbal, healthfood side of things, there's Bambu, soy coffee, Teechino, and ramon nut coffee.

So there's a whole lot of coffee substitutes out there. No idea if any of these actually taste like coffee. Or if they go well with ice cream.


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2/11/08 Addendum: Since Kraft announced back in December (or whenever) that they had discontinued Postum, my humble blog has had a sudden, and fairly large, increase in visitors, most of whom are looking for Postum. A quick check at Google shows this blog entry is the second listed website for Postum. I'm suddenly one of the internet's leading authorities on Postum. Sadly, there's no way for me to cash in on this.

Today I got an email from Seattle Bob who informed me had formed a brand new Yahoo group for Postum lovers. Just go to the Yahoo Groups page and type in Postum. Bob outlined the aims for his group in his email:

The purpose of the group is multi-fold:


1. To lobby Kraft to resume production. I think this is a dead issue. A Kraft employee posted on one site that they had already removed the production equipment from the factory, But if they see a niche demand, they may decide to sell the rights to someone else.
2. To keep this story in the media. I am encouraging people to contact news media, and keep the pressure on Kraft. I am hoping to creat a "New Coke" type marketing fiasco for them.
3. To encourage people to contact smaller food processors and suggest Postum may fit into their marketing plan, and ask them to approach Kraft to sell them the rights to Postum. This seems to be the best scenario in my opinion. Even if there isn't a large enough pot for Kraft, a guarenteed market of a couple million people would be a tempting "cash cow" for a smaller processor.
4. Discuss alternate products from other manufacturers, such as Pero and Cafix, although I have tried them both, and they are terrible! I think they try too hard to simulate the taste of coffee, and end up tasting like bad coffee.
5. If all else fails, to try to crack the recipe, and make Postum in small batches for personal consumption. CW Post originally made small batches for his sanitarium in an 1890's commercial kitchen, all the ingredients are listed on the jar, and are available in retail quantities, so it may be possible to hack the recipe.... you know, 12 monkeys typing. It is also another way of letting Kraft, and other food processors know there is an interest.
So instead of desperately reading my old blog entry, go join the Postum group!

One interesting thing I've dug up on my own is an alleged recipe for homemade Postum. I have no idea if it's the same thing as what Kraft sold, but it's worth trying I suppose.

One last thing. I have a confession to make. Back in December I gave away my sole jar of Postum to my sister because it had been sitting around untouched for months. Now I'm kind of wishing I'd kept it despite being kind of sick of it.


2/18/08 Addendum: The madness continues. Now there's a post at Metafilter on the discontinuation of Postum. And there's a few interesting links. (Thankfully they left me out of it.)

9/28/11 Addendum: There's a site called Ersatzcoffee.com that sells a Postum substitute. I haven't tried it.

21 comments:

Virginia Fream said...

I've been drinking Postum for 9 years because I gave up caffene when I was diagnosed with cancer. Now they have taken it off of the market!! Does anyone know of a good subsitute for Postum.

islandgirl78 said...

My mother gave me Postum when I was little and wanted to drink coffee with the "grown-ups," and she wouldn't allow it as coffee would "stunt my growth." I have always liked the taste of it, especially with a little cream and sugar. What a treat! I started drinking it regularly again when I developed reflux. I can't believe Kraft took it off the market (without any warning, too). I have tried other coffee substitutes like Teecino and other barley and chicory drinks, but have been unable to acquire a taste for them. I hope there is enough of an uproar from us Postum fans that Kraft brings it back.

Barbara said...

I thank for the information that Kraft has taken it off the market. I too started drinking it because of bad reflux disease and cancer. I have been looking high and low for it.

Barbara

Laurie Rimon said...

I live overseas and every time I came back to the US to visit, I would pick up a few jars of Postum (and put the powder in ziploc bags so it won't weigh so much). I also tried other substitutes, and none of them have the nice rich feeling Postum gives you - not coffee but just as good. I also hope that some small company will take the initiative, and start manufacturing Postum.

John said...

I have been an avid postum drinker for forty years. Imagine my dismay having it no longer be available. However I have just discovered a Polish coffee substitue called INKA. If mde just right it taste very close to Postum only a little bit stronger.
Here is the discription. I hope you enjoy it.

INKA
Naturalis is a rich, flavorful instant grain beverage enjoyed by Polish families for generations. Rye, barley, beets, and chicory root are simply roasted,ground and combined to make Naturalis Inka the perfect substitute for coffee and a great tasting drink in its own right. The toasted beets lend a subtle sweetness that is naturally satisfying. There are no chemical processes, additives, preservatives and added sugars used in making this flavorful and relaxing natural beverage.

joe said...

my mother first gave me postum when i was about 6 or 7 years old. i am 63 now. i still like coffee but hate caffein. i've alwayes loved postum and was shocked to hear kraft had stopped production. i refuse to go to caffein(coffee) we've got to get postum back. mr. kraft are you listening? please bring it back.

Anita said...

I'm a Postum lover from way back. Very discouraged to not be able to find it any more. Would love anothr producer to take over the business.

Maureen said...

I have been hearing from people that they are looking for Postum. After reading about the benefits of Postum, I think Kraft should reconsider bringing this product back. My dad used it all the time and he was quite healthy when he passed away at age 93. I too support the push to bring back Postum.

Eric said...

Hello all you postum lovers. I currently have a product that is definitely worth trying. It is called Choffy and it has many different flavors. I am currently formulating one that will taste similar to postum, as there has been a huge desire for this. It is higher in antioxidants than blueberries and much smoother and less acidic than coffee. If any of you would like more info contact me at
Eric@DrinkChoffy.com

Lynn said...

If you can find a suitable replacement for Postum, it would be easier to boost demand for it than to try to revive a defunct product. When Postum went off the shelves, I went shopping for alternatives. Inka is the closest thing I have found. Its taste is equally bland to Postum's and a little half and half or flavored nondairy creamer adds flavor. It dissolves more readily than Postum, as it's a finer powder, and it has fewer calories. It doesn't have the funny taste Roma has. I get mine at the Whole Foods Market.

Barbara said...

Lynn,

Thanks for your review of Inka. Don't I wish I had a Whole Foods nearby!

Eric said...

Hello,

To all of you who are interested. I have developed a product that tastes delicious. I use 100% cacao beans that are roasted and ground and then brewed. There is no coffee and I have 3 varieties. One is surprisingly like coffee and another tastes a lot like chocolate. It also happens to be healthy. There are more antioxidants per serving than Blueberries. If interested please contact me at eric@drinkchoffy.com or visit the website www.drinkchoffy.com I hope you will all be as happy with it as many other of our former Postum drinkers have.

NormanNurse said...

Greetings Postum lovers! I had no idea there were so many like myself who have been deeply affected by the discontinuance of Postum. I too became familiar with Postum as a little child. I am now 62 and was deeply saddened today finding out that Postum has been removed from the store shelves! I've been searching for about two weeks unsuccessfully. Many store clerks have looked at me crazy when I would ask for "Postum". After running a search this morning I find this blog site informing me Postum has been discontinued. Thanks to those of you who have shared the names of other coffee substitutes. It is my prayer that Kraft or someone else puts Postum back on the market!!

Jo said...

Just wanted to let you know that Postum starred in its very own comic strip decades ago. Take a look here & no, you don't need to thank me! I drink Inca.
http://www.lileks.com/institute/funny/comics/coffeenerves/3.html

nanapothier said...

I don't want something LIKE Postum. I want POSTUM. Any ideas where I could get a case? I was horrified to learn that it indeed has been discontinued. I was just hoping it was not available in our area. I tried Pero but its just not the same.

sebastian said...

According to former Postum Lovers, I have a delicious substitite made out of Wheat Bran, cracked Wheat and molasses.
Currently I make small Batches for Family and Friends but reach out now to see if there's a big enough market out there for me to go in to production.
Info. sebastiansbest@yahoo.com

Roxene said...

I tried to find Postum a few years ago and discovered some being sold on eBay for about $45 US dollars a jar. I have 2 jars and my daughter-in-law has 1. My husband doesn't want to sell them and neither does my daughter-in-law. They'd prefer to use them.

For now we have been using Pero and Roma. My husband prefers Roma (by the Worthington company). It's difficult to find in our location. We usually get it our our church's SDA campmeeting case lots sale.

I thought I'd see if I could find a recipe to make a similar substitute myself. It seems as though I once came across one made from dandelion greens. Wheat bran, cracked wheat, and molasses might be better, but will do some research and experimenting.

Roxene said...

It pays to review or reread before sending! I don't know how "ours from our church's SDA campmeeting" on the last blog went through as "our our". I guess my thoughts ran off and left my typing behind. LOL!

Anonymous said...

For anybody who would like a jar of postume I found some at my great grandmothers home 9 jars sealed like new I'm selling if anyone is interested please email me at leightaylor98@aim.com please email your bid : )

Anonymous said...

Please please please bring it back. We non coffee drinkers need Postom.

Why discontinue such a great product. It is healthier than coffee.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Postum is going to be re-released, according to http://postum.com and their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/postumgoodness

The Facebook page, in a comment posted Jan. 15th, says "Postum should be out in Feburary 2012."

Hooray!