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By Roz Rogoff

Fiber or Roughage?

Uploaded: Mar 10, 2014

When I was growing up in the 1950's my mother would buy the Kellogg's Variety Packs with 10 mini-boxes of different kinds of Kellogg's cereal. My favorite was Raisin Bran. My brother and I would fight over who would get the lone box from the package.

My mother would tell us Raisin Bran isn't good for us because it is full of roughage. Bran, which is the cellulose wrapping around wheat, was considered waste material. Roughage was the indigestible leftovers from grain or vegetables. It was like corn husks, something to throw away. lists the origin as, "bran c.1300, 'the husk of wheat, barley, etc., separated from the flour after grinding,'

In 1926 U.S. Mills, which also made the laxative Uncle Sam Cereal, introduced a new cold cereal under the name Skinner's Raisin-Bran. In 1944 Skinner sued Kellogg's over the name Raisin Bran. The Judge ruled it was not an exclusive name since it simply described the ingredients in the cereal. The name Raisin Bran is now a generic name for any cereal made with wheat, bran, and raisins.

My mother told my brother and me that it wasn't good for children to eat "roughage." The Raisin Bran was for my Grandmother, who lived with us. But I ate it anyway whenever I could get the little box away from my brother.

In his 1973 film, "Sleeper," Woody Allen made fun of how health foods change from generation to generation. After his character is "defrosted," from cryogenic preservation, he's asked if his health food store sold "hot fudge and deep fat," which are considered health foods in the year 2170.

Many of the gags in Allen's 40 year old film apply more to now than they probably will 156 years from now. Regardless of what you think of him on a personal level, and I believe he didn't do what Mia and her children accuse him of, he's a film genius.

I loved what are now referred to as his "early, funny films." He observed human thought and behavior with a keen eye for its absurdities. "Sleeper" is a mock science fiction film about the distant future, but Allen's imagined future seems far closer to our current future of now.

Times change and food fads move along with them. "Roughage" is now called "Fiber," and is supposedly good for everyone, not just old folks. The American food industry found a way to make money off of something they used to throw away. I still consider it roughage, but now I'm old enough to eat Raisin Bran for the reason it was originally made.