Wednesday, 23 June 2004

Remembering Chex Party Mix

Like most people I have fond memories of various foods from childhood. One of those is Chex Party Mix. My mother never made Chex Party Mix herself, although I had friends and relatives who did. I also seem to remember that, for a time in the Seventies, Ralston sold pre-made Chex Party Mix in boxes. We used to buy quite a bit. Either home made or store bought, I always loved Chex Party Mix myself.

Of course, the core of Chex Party Mix are the Chex cereals. The origins of Chex go all the way back to 1898 when Ralston-Purina entered the cereal business. In 1902 Ralston-Purina introduced Ralston Wheat Cereal, the precurssor of the modern day Chex cereals. By the mid-Thrities, Ralston Wheat Cereal was falling in sales. It was then decided to revamp the cereal. In 1937, Wheat Chex was introduced. It proved successful enough that in 1950 Ralston Purina added Rice Chex to the line. Corn Chex was introduced later.

Chex Party Mix was introduced in 1955 in recipes on the sides of Chex boxes. The traditional story is that the wife of one Ralton-Purina's executives made the mix for a party and it was a big hit. As a result Ralston Purina decided to use the recipe as a means of promoting their cereals. It was not the first party mix to involve cereal. I have read that the 1950 edition of Betty Crocker's Cookbook included a recipe for "Buttered or Cheese Kix (both Kix and the Betty Crocker products are owned by General Mills)."

Throughout the years, the recipe apparently changed. As a child I remember Chex Party Mix as having Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, and Corn Chex, little pretzel sticks, and mixed nuts. From what I have heard the original recipe from the Fifties did not include the pretzel sticks. In 1997 Ralston sold their Chex cereals to General Mills, along with Chex Party Mix. General Mills includes the Chex Party Mix on the sides of the boxes of Chex cereals and makes a variety of Party Mixes sold in bags, although it seems to me that they have changed the recipe. The current recipe includes pretzels (rather than pretzel sticks) and bagel chips. Curiously, they market this recipe as "the Original Chex Party Mix." The pre-made bags of Chex Mix contain no mixed nuts, but do include rye chips and bread twists.

Personally, I much prefer the Chex Party Mix I grew up with. To me, at least, it tasted much better. Of course, if it was up to me Chex would still be owned by Ralston-Purina. While I respect General Mills and I like many of their cereals, it just seems odd for them to own Chex, something like Dr. Pepper/Seven Up Inc. owing Coca-Cola. Too, I don't like the changes General Mills apparently made to the Party Mix recipe. Of course, the old Ralston Purina recipes are still floating around out there, so I can always make my own. (-:

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