Chex Mix is a lot older than you might think. Especially once you realize that it was not always produced commercially in packages. In the early days Chex cereal was produced owned by Ralston Purina. Yes, the animal food company.
Ralston Purina began making cereal in the early 1900’s. They introduced Chex cereal in 1935. However, in those days, it wasn’t called Chex, it was called Shredded Ralston, and was only made with wheat. These little squares were really just bite-sized shredded wheat biscuits, much different than the Wheat Chex we know today.
The name Shredded Ralston was changed to Wheat Chex in 1950, and Rice Chex was introduced the same year. The name Chex came from the Raltson Purina checkerboard logo. Their early cereal boxes, such as Ralston Wheat cereal, featured a checkerboard background on the label, and Chex brand cereal boxes followed this design, as well.
Some sources erroneously report that recipes for Chex Mix began appearing on the back of Chex cereal boxes in the 1930’s, as well. Chex Mix is old, but its not that old. The first recipes for Chex Party Mix began appearing in 1952. Recipes for snack mixes made from breakfast cereals were not a new idea, but a clever one. Like other cereal snack mix recipes, Chex Mix was simply called “Party Mix” at first.
Ralston Purina wanted a way to get people to eat lots and lots of its cereal. The first and classic recipe called for Wheat Chex and Rice Chex mixed with Worcestershire sauce, butter, garlic salt, salt, and nuts and baked in an oven. Notice that two varieties of Chex are included. Clever!
No, there were no pretzels, bagel chips, melba toast, or onion powder in these early recipes, despite the fact that many so-called “original” recipes call for one or more of these ingredients. Also, there was no corn chex. Corn chex did not appear until 1958.
Chex mix became very popular early on. People made big batches for parties or other large gatherings, or to eat while watching TV, etc. The recipe appeared in other places besides on Chex cereal boxes, such as Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook. Chex Mix recipes still appear on Chex cereal boxes to this day.
This Party Mix was not the only recipe that Ralston suggested for Chex. Recipes such as Cheese Chex and Bite Size Rice Chex Candy Balls also appeared.
Pre-made Chex Mix sold in packages did not actually appear until 1985, and today many different varieties of Chex Mix are sold. The recipe used for the packaged variety is not the same as the classic Chex Party Mix recipe, which is more flavorful and more salty. Today, the Chex brand of products is owned by General Mills, who sells many Chex Mix products.
The True Original Chex Mix Recipe
2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
2 cups Rice Chex Cereal
1/3 Cup Butter
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup nuts
1/ tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic salt
Preheat oven to 300 F. Melt the 1/3 cup butter and pour into a shallow baking pan. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce and mix well. Add the 2 cups Wheat Chex and Rice Chex, the nuts, and sprinkle on the salt and garlic salt. Mix well. Heat the mixture in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring once every 10 minutes. Cool before serving.
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