In this Food Non-Fiction podcast episode, we talk about the creation of the Rice Krispies Treats. In 1928, Kellogg’s introduced the Rice Krispies cereal to the public. In the same year, the company hired a recent home economics graduate of Iowa State University - her name was Mildred Day. Her job was to test recipes for Kellogg’s and she also travelled around the country conducting cooking schools for the company’s customers.
Kellogg’s recipe testers were asked to develop recipes using Kellogg’s cereals. So Mildred Day and her friend Malitta Jensen put their heads together to create something delicious.
They created what we now know as Rice Krispies Treats or Rice Krispies Squares, but back then they called it “marshmallow squares”.
By the way, they didn’t create the recipe from thin air, it’s likely they tweaked the recipe using either the Puffed Wheat Squares recipe in the 1938 cookbook, It’s Fun to Cook, or they may have used an older recipe from 1916 which was a recipe for something called Puffed Rice Brittle.
Either way, the molasses and vinegar were removed from the original recipe and Campfire Marshmallows were added. One source said that Mildred Day chose to replace molasses with marshmallows because marshmallows are less sticky.
You should also note that Mildred Day and Malitta Jensen were part of the Campfire Girls organization.
The Campfire Girls sold boxes of Campfire Marshmallows back then, much like how Girl Scouts sell Girl Scout Cookies. So perhaps that inspired the use of marshmallows in the recipe.
Soon after the marshmallow squares recipe was created, the Campfire Girls organization needed to raise some money to support their summer camp and activity programs. So, Kellog’s, being a company with a reputation for helping out in the community, lent a hand.
It was a good opportunity for them to test out their new marshmallow squares on the public after all. They set up a temporary kitchen to produce batches of marshmallow squares for the Campfire Girls to sell as part of a fundraiser.
Mildred Day worked in the temporary kitchen for two intensive weeks, every day from 6:30AM to 10PM. She was a dedicated Campfire Girls Troop leader and her scouts were able to sell hundreds of Rice Krispies Treats in Michigan during that summer in 1939.
Kellogg's executives noted how much families loved the marshmallow squares.
Kids loved them because of the taste and parents loved them because of the price. Remember, this was 1939 - the back-end of the Great Depression and the front-end of the second world war, so price was important.
So, Kellogg's trademarked the Rice Krispies Treats name in 1940 and added the recipe to the back of the Rice Krispies cereal boxes in 1941.
In 1995, Kellogg's started making the packaged version of the treats for grocery stores.
We spoke with Malitta Jensen's grandson, Jay Hewlett about his grandmother. She was a determined and successful businesswoman and a loving grandmother.
Special Thanks to Our Guest:
Thank you to Looperman Musicians:
What’s Goin Down by rasputin1963
Visuality by danke
140 BPM Acoustic Guitar by ferryterry