One of the great American food company traditions is promoting one's products through recipes. Period cookbooks and women's magazine ads from the 1950s and 1960s confirm the idea of combining manufactured cereal with other products and toasting them with butter was popular. According to one source, Chex Mix (aka TV Mix, Chex Party Mix. Mix Trix) was introduced in 1955 If so? The Ralston Purina company was not the first to market the idea. The 1950 edition of Betty Crocker's Cook Book [General Mills] has a recipe for "Buttered or Cheese Kix," Kix being a General Mills brand cereal.
"Traditional Chex Brand Party Mix. This crunchy nibble hit the party circuit in 1955. In St. Louis. There's a good reason for this. The recipe was dreamed up by the savvy folks at Ralston Purina--a St. Louis company--as a way to push its Chex Brand cereals (wheat, corn, and rice). Today, it's a staple in millions of homes from Maine to Monterey. Some cooks fiddle with the classic recipe, loading it with a favorite nut, perhaps..."
---The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century, Jean Anderson [Clarkson Potter:New York] 1997 (p. 36-7)
According to the records of the
1/2 cup Kix
1 cup Cheerios
1 cup Wheat Chex
1 cup Rice Chex
2 cups thin short pretzel sticks
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
Mix the packaged cereals and pretzel sticks together. Combine the melted butter and seasoning. Pour over the cereal mix. Stir well together. Spread in a layer on a baking sheet, and bake at 250 degrees F. For an hour, stirring every 15 minutes."
---Martha Deane's Cooking for Compliments, Marian Young Taylor [M. Barrows:New York] 1954 (p. 17)
[NOTE: Martha Deane was a popular radio personality on WOR New York]
"TV Mix...1955...Now, television antennas topped nearly every house, and entertainment meant westerns in the living room. Davy Crockett put a coonskin cap on every kid. And the perfect snack was TV mix, a combo of crisp-srisp toasted cereals and salted nuts." (p. 90)
4 cups crisp doughnut-shaped oat cereal
6 cups crisp cereal corn puffs
3 cups bite-sized shredded -wheat squares
3 cups slim pretzel sticks
1 pound mixed salted nuts
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup bacon drippings
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teasoon Tabasco sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspooon savory
Combine cereals, pretzels, and nuts in roaster pan. Melt butter and bacon drippings; add Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco; mix well, and pour over cereal mixture. Thoroughly combine seasonings; sprinkle over mixture, mixing well. Toast in very slow oven (250 degrees F.) 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Makes 4 quarts." (p. 94)
---Better Homes & Gardens, May 1963
"Party Mix: Easy to Fix Party
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon seasoned salt or 3/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups Chex (mix Wheat, Corn and Rice Chex equally or in any way you like!)
3/4 cup salted nuts.
1. Heat oven to 250 degrees F. 2. Slowly melt butter in shallow pan. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and salt. 3. Add Chex and nuts. Mix until all pieces are coated. 4. Heat in oven 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool. Yield: 6 3/4 cups."
---Display ad, Ralston Purina Company, Better Homes & Gardens, December 1963 (p. 76)
"The town of Sterling, Colorado celebrated its favorite snack food today with a Main Street Parade, the naming of a "Mr. and Ms. Chex Mix" and even the presentation of a college scholarship. Saying they had to see it to believe it, several General Mills representatives flew in from Minneapolis to attend the festivities and hear the mayor proclaim Chex Mix as the city's official snack. The day's events developed after local radio DJ Jason Murphy asked listeners of his KPMX morning show to name their favorite snack food. The resounding answer was Chex Mix. "I was shocked by how many people called in to say Chex Mix ruled," says Murphy...Amused and flattered by the town's efforts, General Mills sent more than 700 bags of Chex Mix to Sterling, most of which will be donated to the local food shelf."
---"City of Sterling, Colorado Names Chex Mix Its Official Snack Food," Business Wire, February 23, 2001
If you want more details on this event, contact
ABOUT CHEX BRAND CEREAL
"In his book Great American Brands, historian David Powers Cleary recorded the origins of Chex cereal. In 1898 William Danforth, an owner of an animal feed business, saw something in wheat germ that cereal manufacturers of the period had overlooked. Cereal makers of the day removed wheat germ from whole wheat cereals because of perennial problems with the wheat germ quickly growing rancid. A miller from Kansas...discovered a way to keep the wheat germ from going bad. Meanwhile, Danforth believed wheat germ to be a form of nature's own purity and therefore importanat to sound health. Danforth soon began a collaboration with the Kansas miller to sell a ready-to-eat cereal for people: that collaboration marked the very beginning of what would become Chex cereal...by 1902, the company name had changed to Ralston Purina Company. To accompany the new name, Danforth wished to develop a logo that people would remember. He decided on a smart red and white checkerboard...[which] symbolized, to him, his philosophy of healthy living...By the time of the Great Depression, Ralston Wheat Cereal was losing money for the company, despite the growth of overall comapny sales to $60 million. The company remedied this lapse in sales by bringing in a famous cowboy, Tom Mix, to lend his name to the cereal. Eventually changing the cereal name to Chex..."
---"Chex," Encyclopedia of Consumer Brands, Volume 1: Consumable Products, Janice Jorgenson, editor [St. James:Detroit] 1994 (p. 114-116)
[NOTES: USPTO records indicate "Chex" was introduced in 1950; this book has much more information than can be paraphrased here. If you need more details ask your libarian to help you find a copy].