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EVER WONDER: Rice Krispies


By Jacque Scott

As a kid, one of my most favorite cereals was Rice Krispies. Have you ever wondered why Rice Krispies go ‘snap, crackle and pop’ when you add milk to the bowl? Of course if you are a bit older than a little kid, you may not have thought about this in a great while. You just haven’t listened. I mean REALLY listened. It is a comforting sound, and it is still there. All of us are so busy with all of the things forever moving around us and all of the hustle and bustle in our lives, that we take the little comforting sounds for granted. It is kind of like stopping to smell the roses… It is the kind of thing that brings a smile to our faces and starts our day off right. It doesn’t mater if we are 5 or 95. Listen and smile.

In 1927, Kelloggs produced a cereal they called Rice Krispies, and in 1928, they released it to the public. Australia and New Zealand know our cereal as Rice Bubbles.

A food scientist named Labuza from Minnesota, says that he has figured out why Rice Krispies go ‘snap, crackle and pop’. There have been no studies done because there has been no funding for such a seemingly small project. It is just hard to find such funding.

When you get out that bowl in the morning and pour in the Rice Krispies, take a moment to look at an individual kernel of rice. Each kernel looks like a piece of glass. If you carefully crack one, it will shatter into many tiny pieces. Under a powerful microscope, using lots of determination, one can actually put all of the pieces back together again. Sounds like Humpty Dumpty, doesn’t it……..

Rice Krispies are like glass because high temperatures were used in the making of the cereal. This high temperature cooking creates strong bonds which hold the starch molecules together. Each piece of rice expands, and many air-filled caves and tunnels are formed inside.

When milk is poured onto the crispy rice kernels in the bowl, the milk puts pressure on the air inside the caves and tunnels. It actually pushes the air around. The air keeps moving around until it pushes against the walls of the little caves and tunnels until they crack or shatter like glass. It is then that we hear the familiar ‘snap, crackle and pop’. Sometimes, if you look closely enough, you can even see tiny bubbles of air rising to the surface of the milk. When the milk is completely absorbed into all of the Rice Krispie kernels and the air pockets have all burst, your cereal becomes very quiet and very soggy.

The breakfast cereal’s popularity with youngsters didn’t come until a decade later, when Rice Krispies treats were created quite by accident. A Campfire Girls troop leader mixed some marshmellows with the cereal and created the perfect snack for an inexpensive fundraiser. A favorite snack was born.

Labuza seems to have solved the mystery behind our talking cereal. Next time you eat that familiar old cereal that you are taking for granted, don’t forget to take a moment and listen before taking that first spoonful. It may start your day off with a smile…..

God bless you.