Cream of Wheat is a hot cereal made from whole wheat kernels. Although not made of whole grain because it is missing the bran, it has been a popular hot cereal since the 1900s. The cereal has a smooth texture and mild taste. Cream of Wheat Original is the traditional variety cooked over the stove, but instant varieties have since been added to grocery store shelves across the country.
Whole grains are foods that contain the three components of the seed, or kernel, of the grain. As grain grows, it produces a head of grain that contain seeds. These kernels are harvested and either milled, cracked or used whole to produce food products. The grain kernel contains an endosperm, or center core of the grain; the bran, which is the outer covering; and the germ, which is the small embryo part of the seed. All three parts must be present for the food to be called a "whole grain" product.
Cream of Wheat has a long history. A small flour mill located in Grand Forks, North Dakota developed the hot cereal during the Panic of 1893 -- a serious U.S. economic depression -- to keep the business from failing. The head miller at the factory had been using this hot cereal at home for his family. Inspired by the idea, the partners agreed to send a shipment of this new cereal along with their order of flour to New York. Twelve hours later, they received a telegram requesting more Cream of Wheat cereal. In 1962, Nabisco took over the production of the cereal. Later, Cream of Wheat was acquired by B&G Foods in 2007.
Today, there are several varieties of Cream of Wheat. One such variety, called Instant Healthy Grain, is made from the whole wheat grain and contains the wheat germ, bran and endosperm; this variety is considered whole grain. Additionally, the Instant Healthy Grain -- Maple Brown Sugar variety is also whole grain. Other varieties that are not considered whole grain include Instant Cinnamon Swirl, Instant Maple Brown Sugar and Instant Cinnabon Cream of Wheat.
Instant Original Cream of Wheat is made from wheat farina, which is made from the germ and endosperm of the grain. It does not include the bran, which is why it is not considered whole grain. Defatted wheat germ, guar gum, natural flavor and BHT to preserve freshness are added. B vitamins, vitamin A, calcium carbonate and iron are also added. There are 100 calories in one packet of the instant original Cream of Wheat, 0 g of fat, 0 cholesterol, 3 g of protein, 1 g of fiber and 18 g carbohydrates, according to B&G Foods.