Say Goodbye to Postum

Photo: Kraft Foods has said it is no longer profitable to manufacture the 112-year-old coffee alternative. [photo: John Beckett/ANN][January 17, 2008] Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, Taashi Rowe/Adventist News Network

Kraft Foods, the makers of coffee alternative Postum, recently announced they will no longer make the once popular beverage.

The drink had a small but loyal following among some Seventh-day Adventists who believe that caffeine negatively affects health and some members of the Church of Latter day Saints who don't drink hot caffeinated beverages. Kraft Foods spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati said the company stopped making Postum last fall because the demand for it was so low that manufacturing it no longer made sense.

Postum was created in 1895 by C.W. Post who stumbled upon the recipe while he was a patient at Adventist-owned Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, United States.

Contrary to rumors, Post was not an Adventist, said James Nix, director of the estate for Ellen White, an Adventist Church co-founder.

"Post was a charity patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium when Harvey Kellogg was there and while the Sanitarium was still Adventist," Nix said. "He was snooping around the kitchen and discovered that Kellogg was making a caramel cereal coffee. Kellogg is reputed not to have minded when Post took the recipe. He said 'so much the better if it helps people's health,' having no idea that it would make Post so much money."

Made of wheat bran, wheat, molasses, and corn dextrin, Postum was considered a "healthier" drink. It did not cause the jittery side effects that coffee gave some people.

Chris Sadanala, an employee at the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, has a strong reaction to caffeine products. "I can't take caffeine, it gives me vertigo," he said. "But you can't find Postum [in the United States]. I get it at an Indian store and sometimes [I buy] Roma. I wasn't crazy for that thing but sometimes it was nice in the morning."

Milton Anderson, an Adventist living in Decatur, Georgia, said although he wasn't a huge fan of the drink he had noticed the disappearance of Postum from his cupboards.

"I buy the stuff," said Yvonne Vanderhorst, another church headquarters employee. "I'll look to see what store has it now. [Local grocery store] Giant used to have it."

When reminded that similar drinks, such as Roma, Carob and Chicory, are still available, Vanderhorst responded: "I'd rather have Postum."

Cesar Gonzalez, an employee of the church's North American region, said he grew up in Florida and didn't drink many hot drinks. "But every time the temperature dipped, what else was I supposed to drink if I was Adventist?" he said. "We had Postum. I enjoyed it. Now I feel bad; I should have bought some more."

Angela Wickline, associate manager for Employee Food Services at the church's headquarters, said she bought the now half-empty jar of Postum in the cafeteria two months ago "because I was trying to surprise some people here. For a long time all we had was Roma. We don't have a lot of Postum drinkers here so I just pick it up when I need it."

Postum, which normally sold for US$3.50 per jar, can still be found on the online auction site Ebay where one seller is offering three jars for US$70.