Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Cereal hit store shelves in 1928, and was a moderate success. 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, seeking an inexpensive fundraiser idea mixed the cereal with butter, and a sensation was born.

History of Rice Krispies Treats

Rice Krispies treats were originally called “Puffed Wheat Squares” with a recipe included for the tasty treat included in a dessert book written in 1938 by Lucy Maltby. The author’s recipe included cereal, butter, sugar, molasses, and vinegar. A similar recipe for dessert squares called, “Puffed Rice Brittle” was also featured in an earlier cookbook in 1916. The Campfire Girls troop leader, and Kellogg’s employee, Mildred Day is generally credited in bringing the inexpensive treat to life, and public consciousness, after her scouts sold hundreds of Rice Krispies Treats during the summer of 1939 in a small town in Michigan.

Campfire Girls Leader Starts a Sensation with her Recipe

Mildred Day needed a fundraiser, which would allow her Campfire Girls the ability to raise a large amount of money for their summer camps and activity programs. The Kellogg brand was popular in her area of Michigan not solely for value of their products, but for commitment to community. During the Great Depression, the company didn’t fire workers, and shipped products overseas to the armed forces. Banking on the loyalty of families of Battle Creek, Day planned to promote the Campfire Girls fundraiser as a way to not only assist the young scouts, but to support the company, which had shown compassion, and support to working families and soldiers.

Campfire Marshmallows Added to Older Puffed Rice Recipes

The creative scout leader had a copy of the “Puffed Rice Brittle” recipe, adapted the concoction to add sweeter flavor to the treats. During that era, Campfire Girls also sold “Campfire Marshmallows” in a box, similar to the Girl Scout Cookie drives of today. Day decided to remove the molasses and vinegar from the recipe, and add Campfire Girls Marshmallows to the mix.

Kellogg’s Adds Rice Krispies Recipe to Back of Cereal Box

Kellogg’s executives took notice of the mania Day’s recipe created among both children and price-conscious mothers. In 1941, the company added Day’s recipe to the back of the Rice Krispies cereal box and trademarked the name and recipe for the simple dessert. The treats created by a clever Campfire Girls leader to raise money for her troop soon became a national sensation.

Rice Krispies Treats Produced and Sold in Grocery Stores

Rice Krispies Treats became a staple at children’s birthday parties and elementary school classrooms. They developed into a treat for all occasions with the use of cookie cutters and food coloring. Holiday-themed treats were easy to make, and allowed young children to participate in the process in the kitchen. In 1995, Kellogg’s began producing and packaging the treats for grocery stores. The treats are also available in various colors and shapes for holidays and seasonal promotions.

References and Resources

Food Timeline Webpage on RIce Krispies