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What Is Puffed Cereal?
Cereals made out of rice, wheat and corn can be puffed. This is a process that expands or puffs up the food product using air pressure. This makes the food larger and gives it a more pleasant texture that is spongy or crunchy.
How It's Done
To puff the cereal, slightly moistened grain kernels are placed in an airtight container which is then heated up by a flame. This causes the pressure to rise quickly inside the container. When a door to the container is opened suddenly, the rapid change in air pressure causes the piece of cereal to instantly puff up. The food shoots out of the container at the same time, which is why this procedure is often called "gun puffing." This whole process happens very quickly and is similar to popping popcorn. The puffed cereal is then caught in a large container that has air constantly circulating in it to prevent the cereal pieces from flattening each other.
Puffed cereal has been around for more than 100 years. Puffed rice was introduced by Quaker at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis. The puffed rice was shot out of eight bronze cannons over a large crowd.
The popularity for Quaker's puffed rice took off in 1913 when they began an advertising campaign that included the slogan "the grains that are shot from guns" which referred to the gun-puffing process.
Although puffed cereal can be tastier than flakes, a study in 2006, led by Francisco Morales, found that puffs aren't as healthy as flakes. The puffs were found to have more furosine, a chemical process caused by heat which reduces the amount of nutritionally available protein in the puffs. There wasn't any significant difference found between rice, wheat and corn.