Greater than Seinfeld’s “Unfrosted” – Lessons from Michigan’s serial cereal entrepreneurs

The recent publication of “Unfrosted”, directed by Jerry Seinfeld, had a disappointing debut on Netflix and was even rated “one of the worst films of the decade.”

But with an all-star forged that features Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan and Amy Schumer, plus America's Love for Pop-Tarts$3 billion sold in 2022 – The film has the potential to develop into a cult classic.

And while viewers might need they might rewatch the 93 minutes they spent watching the film, the true story of the toast can teach a worthwhile lesson concerning the persistence of serial entrepreneurs and the strategic decisions that may provide a competitive advantage.

In my Teaching, research and work with student entrepreneurs Over the past 15 years, I even have learned that entrepreneurial ideas don’t must be “new to the world” to achieve success.

“Unfrosted” is silly and silly, but it surely’s meant to be silly and silly, says Rotten Tomatoes.

A brand new invention: cold muesli

In 1876, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a widely known physician and writer, took over the management of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The famous medical spa attracted 1000’s of patients annually to the small town of Battle Creek, Michigan.

John's younger brother, William Keith Kellogg, managed the every day operations while John provided his patients with fresh air and a whole-grain vegetarian food plan, which he called “biological life.”

Black and white photograph of a row of very thin men in white underwear doing exercises on a formal courtyard with iconic columns.
The Battle Creek Sanitarium promoted the health principles advocated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Apic/Bridgeman/Getty Images

The food plan inspired the brothers to develop a formula for a healthy breakfast, which is now generally known as cold muesli in flake formJohn Kellogg considered the cereal as a treatment for his sick patients and founded the Sanitas Food Company to provide it for the sanatorium guests.

Will Kellogg thought that the product might appeal to healthy people as well. Although he recognized the greater industrial potential, he didn’t pursue the thought until he saw the entrepreneurial success of a patient on the sanatorium who was making an analogous product. The patient's name was Charlie “CW” Post.

Post couldn’t afford full board and lodging within the sanatorium, so he worked within the kitchento access the recipes.

After leaving the sanatorium, Post founded his own company, the Postum Cereal Company, in 1894 and introduced the primary ready-to-eat cold cereal.

The success of Post prompted Will Kellogg to provide up the sanitarium business in 1906 and located the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which became a direct competitor to Post. The company was renamed the Kellogg Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1909 and the Kellogg Company in 1922.

Serendipity results in industrial success

Even though the story of cold cereal begins before the Pop-Tart story, it shows a number of the ways by which entrepreneurial ideas come to light.

In the case of Kellogg's Corn Flakes lucky coincidence Played a job.

Although there are barely different versions of the unique story, the gist of the story is that the Kellogg brothers, after rolling out wheat dough and letting it sit overnight, discovered that the stale dough easily broke into thin flakes that could possibly be used to make cold cereal. Will later made the flakes using corn, which was crunchier.

Another lesson for entrepreneurs is that success can come simply from recognize a chance.

The method of constructing cold cereal was discovered by accident after which perfected over time by the Kellogg brothers through trial and error. C.W. Post adopted – some would say stole – the strategy for industrial use without having to spend time inventing and perfecting the product.

Although the Kellogg brothers invented a healthy breakfast alternative, Post was the primary to bring the invention to market – and thus the primary to prove its industrial viability.

The Toaster Pastry Race

While Post can have won the cold breakfast cereal battle within the product's early days, Kellogg's emerged victorious within the toasted biscuit competition depicted in “Unfrosted.”

After Post’s death in 1914, his daughter Marjorie Merriweather Post, played by Schumer within the film, took over the corporate when she was just 27 years old and have become one among the primary female CEOs in AmericaThe Postum Cereal Company became General Foods Corporation in 1929 after Marjorie Post made quite a few corporate acquisitions.

What happened next shows that being first to market doesn’t all the time provide you with a competitive advantage. In fact, there is usually what some marketing experts call a “second-mover advantage.” Industry study suggests that the primary movers beat the late movers in just 15 out of fifty product categories.

A row of colorful Kellogg's cereal boxes stands on a supermarket shelf.
The invention of cold cereal by the Kellogg Company is an example of the worth of being an entrepreneur first.
Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

This is what we see within the history of the Pop-Tart.

It was Announcement by Marjorie Post In February 1964, news of the upcoming “Country Squares” – long-lasting pastries stuffed with fruit – gave Kellogg's the thought of ​​creating their very own version.

A bright blue box features a strawberry pastry and the Pop-Tarts logo.
The Kellogg's Pop-Tart was launched in 1963.
Newscast / GettyImages

Within six months, and before Country Squares even hit the shelves, Kellogg's launched “Fruit Scones.” They quickly renamed Pop-Tarts after the favored pop art movement of the era.

Pop-Tarts were a success. In 1967, Kellogg's added frosting that didn’t melt within the toaster and extra flavors to the unique 4 – Blueberry, strawberry, brown sugar, cinnamon and apple-currant.

And what about Post's Country Squares? They became Toastem' Pop Ups in 1965 and the brand was sold in 1971 to Schulze and Burch Biscuit Co.Today, it’s the world's largest supplier of personal label toaster pastries.

Referring to this story, the Pop-Tarts website states: “Others may have attempted the art of toaster baking, but only one has perfected it.”

While the one that goes first can have the advantage, in the long term the one that follows quickly often wins.

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