According to a story published January 1st, 2008 in the Deseret Morning News, Postum has been discontinued. Dark and hot — but caffeine-free — Postum reigned supreme for decades as the "Mormon coffee" among members of the LDS Church. However, Kraft Foods chose to discontinue manufacturing it earlier this fall, leaving the aficionados of the hot wheat bran drink looking for a suitable substitute.
"It's always a difficult decision to stop making a product, even when there is a very small-but-loyal user base," said Renee Zahery, spokeswoman for Kraft Foods. "But the reason is that the demand for this product overall, both nationally and on a regional level, had continued to decline." And despite numerous e-mail and phone complaints to Kraft Foods, the decision to stop production of Postum is likely permanent, Zahery said.
However, that "small-but-loyal fan base" isn't taking the news well and has been filling online blogs with Postum memories. "Postum was a part of my childhood," blogs William Morris, the creator of "A Motley Vision," (click HERE for specific post) a site devoted to discussing Mormon arts and culture. "My mom is a fan, and us kids developed a taste for it. As a kid I saw it as something Mormon. Not as Mormon as Brigham tea, but much, much tastier."
Ironically, the product's origin has nothing to do with Mormonism. It was developed in 1895 by Charles William Post, a Seventh-day Adventist who felt that caffeine was an unhealthy, addictive substance. Read the Wikipedia entry on Postum for more background.
Black-and-white Postum ads from the early 1900s show a masked and caped Mister Coffee Nerves flying around, reprimanding people for their nervous, irritable behavior — all caused by coffee. But when the characters switch to Postum, the non-addictive coffee alternative, Mister Coffee Nerves disappears until the next cartoon.
Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chose the beverage because the church's health code, known as the Word of Wisdom, prohibits caffeinated coffees or teas. And Postum was particularly helpful for folks who grew up drinking coffee, but later joined the LDS Church and had to renounce their caffeinated-beverage ways.
"I am a recent LDS convert and had no trouble giving up alcohol," wrote one person on a blog titled, "Postum: Coffee Substitute". She characterized giving up coffee as painful, and claimed Postum really helped with the transition. Others liked Postum because it was easier on their stomachs and digestive systems.
But not everyone is mourning the loss. Karol Palmer of Orem said her father used to drink it all the time, and tried to persuade her to do the same. "I tasted it a couple of times — and that was that," Palmer said. "I hadn't heard of it for so long I thought it had died long ago."
Many tone down the strong, dark flavor with brown sugar and milk or non-dairy creamer. Some throw in Nutrasweet or maple syrup. Some just use good old-fashioned cream. "I love this stuff," writes another woman on the Postum blog. "My grandpa used to drink it, he'd add a little milk and sometimes honey. Best stuff ever. But he'd only share a spoonful with us. I'm going to be on a hunt for it now."
Alternatives? There are other products still on the market, like Pero, a hot drink from Switzerland made from barley, chicory and rye, or Cafix, another Switzerland concoction similar to Pero but with the addition of beet roots. But for some, it's just not the same.
Commentary: My grandma used to give me Postum occasionally when I was a teenager, and I enjoyed it when it was spiked with Coffeemate. The last time I tried Postum was several years ago, but since I've been drinking coffee in the interim, Postum kind of "lost its magic". Too bad Kraft has quit making it; this is one of the drawbacks of the global economy. Either get big or get out. Postum's simply another victim of globalization.
As an afternote, many people may not be aware that the Word of Wisdom isn't merely a health code. One verse actually contains an excellent description of the modern day advertising industry. Here's Section 89:4 of the Doctrine of Covenants, where the Word of Wisdom is codified:
4 Behold, verily, thus saith the Lord unto you: In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days, I have warned you, and forewarn you, by giving unto you this word of wisdom by revelation—
This statement alone is proof that Joseph Smith was indeed a prophet. Remember how the alcohol industry once glamorized and misrepresented tobacco, and how it continues to glamorize alcohol today? Beer commercials portray macho men driving macho trucks picking up glamorous women. They don't portray the stumbling drunk with his "Will Work For Food" sign staggering on the street corner. And the pill commercials on the nightly news programs? Kevin Trudeau blew the lid off the health care industry with his books which illustrate how the mission of the pharmaceutical industry is to make you sick and keep you sick to ensure a perpetual profit stream. In general, the mission of the health care industry today is no longer to heal the sick, but to create "lifetime patients". Note: Be advised that while some of Kevin Trudeau's "natural cures" have fallen under close legal scrutiny, I consider his assessment of the health care industry to be on target.
And there are other advertising issues which rarely, if ever, see the light of day. Frank Weltner, a longtime scholar and research analyst on Jewish issues, provides additional information on the advertising industry which is frequently suppressed by the mainstream media.