- Food and Cooking
What is Postum? The Most Wonderful Hot Drink In the Universe.
Where can I buy Postum?
Halleluyah, Postum is back! Sadly, Kraft discontinued its production in 2007, but happily, Eliza Quest's Foods resurrected it in 2012!
If you are here because you want Postum and can't find it in grocery stores here are 2 options for purchasing the ambrosia:
You can purchase directly from Eliza's Quest Foods which is likely the cheaper option:
You can also purchase from Amazon. This is probably the more expensive option, but if you have prime shipping, you'll get your Postum fix faster!
My current opinion is that original Coffee-mate is THE only way to enhance Postum.
The directions on the jar only say to add 1 tsp of Postum, but do not say how much water to use. I've found the following recipe to work for me, but you'll have to find your sweet spot.
-1 cup water
-2 tsp Postum
-Coffee-mate creamer to taste (not so optional)
-Sweetener to taste (optional)
(The picture to the right is prepared Postum, before creamer)
An Acquired Taste
Do not give up on the first attempt. I remember it took me a few cups to realize that I liked Postum, and many more to perfect the recipe to my liking, and now I'm a lifetime Postum lover.
(The picture to the right is prepared Postum, after creamer)
What Is Postum?
One cannot justly describe Postum with ingredient and historical facts, and so after a few facts I share personal experience further below that I hope paints a full picture. (Click here to read my personal journey now)
First, some facts from Wikipedia:
Postum was invented by C. W. Post in 1895. The first version was brewable, but In 1911 Post invented the instant version. It is made from a carefully roasted blend of wheat, bran, molasses, and maltodextrin from corn.
For decades it was marketed as a healthy alternative to coffee. Quotes from a 1910 ad said,
"Children brought up on Postum are free from the evil effects of caffeine - the habit-forming drug - in coffee and tea." and "Begin early to insure a healthy nervous system for the little ones."
Postum Is Not Like Coffee
Early ads explicitly stated that Postum did not taste like coffee, but had its own great flavor. Here's what one ad said:
"You've been thinking of Postum as a coffee substitute. Get that idea out of your head!"
The rest of this full page ad is very entertaining and I highly recommend reading it. It was in a 1942 issue of LIFE and is on google books:
Interestingly, the current jar label contradicts advertisements of old, saying:
"Its rich savory roasted flavor is similar to coffee, but with none of the caffeine, acidity or bitterness." I've never tasted real coffee, so this may not be authoritative, but I confidently assert that the only similarities that coffee and Postum have are that they are hot, wet, and roasted. After that, I'd bet the flavors are unique and to suggest that Postum tastes like coffee only ends in disappointment.
Mr. Coffee Nerves, the definition of pure evil
For years, Postum used a cartoon anti-hero named "Mr. Coffee Nerves" to evangelize the negative effects of coffee. Postum marketers asserted that coffee caused bad health and was a direct cause of divorce and dysfunctional families! When I read the following comic strip I was hard pressed to argue against its sound logic:
The captions are very difficult to read so I have the text here:
Mr. Coffee Nerves: That's Mrs. Smith, Mr. Smith - and ME! ...Heh,Heh, Heh...I'll break up their marriage EASY 'cause coffee steals their sleep, makes 'em irritable...
Mrs. Smith: Turn off that light! I can't sleep a wink!
Mr. Smith: So What? Neither can I...
Mrs. Smith: - And I've had just about enough of your bad temper...
Mr. Smith: Oh, shut up!
Mr. Coffee Nerves: Lady, don't take that...get a divorce!
Lawyer: Let your lawyer give you some good advice...you and George need a divorce from COFFEE - not from each other! Caffein in coffee can cause nervousness, indigestion, sleepless nights...Try Postum - it's 100% caffein - free!
M. Coffee Nerves: Curses!
Mrs. Smith: 8 wonderful hours sleep again last night - I feel like a million!
Mr. Smith: Darling, we're really smart for sticking to Postum...and to think "coffee nerves" almost wrecked our marriage!
Mr. Coffee Nerves: Foiled again by Postum!
Postum = Happy Marriage
There you have it:
Coffee = less sleep and irritability
Less sleep and irritability = divorce
Ergo: Coffee = Divorce
Makes perfect sense to me, and now I understand why my wife and I are so happily married:
Postum = more sleep and patience
More sleep and patience = happy marriage
Ergo: Postum = happy marriage!
My Postum Journey
In the beginning...
When I was very young, perhaps 11, I remember being in a constant state of hunger. It was such a relief, after telling my dad that I was hungry, to hear his wise counsel: Have a drink of water. I wasn't sure back then why my dad repeated this advice each time I announced my hunger because I knew by experience that drinking water did not remove my hunger. As a dad myself I finally understand my dad's perspective better and so my own children enjoy the same time-tested wisdom, repeatedly, and for some sadistic reason that makes me smile inside.
But back to my 11-year-old self. Though I looked in the cupboards 20 times already in a day, nothing could squash my undying hope that the 21st search would yield something tasty that I had previously overlooked. There was always hope, bordering insanity. Little did I know that these were the qualities I would need to endure parenthood, but I digress. This hope did indeed motivate me to take a closer look at something I had overlooked hundreds of times: Postum.
I had repeatedly passed by Postum because I knew it was not many things. Postum was not deliciously rich and sweet hot cocoa. Postum was not deliciously rich and sweet chocolate or strawberry milk. Postum was not rich and sweet Kool-Aid, lemonade, Tang or orange, apple, or grape juice. In my 11 year-old mind, I could not imagine there was anything less rich and sweet than Postum, except perhaps, water. But it was on that 21st inspection of the cupboard that I knew that my choices were water or Postum. Furthermore, I did not know what postum tasted like, and so there was hope.
The rebel mormon
I had no idea what Postum was. The jar label made the drink look like coffee, and the label said that it had a taste similar to coffee. What excitement! I felt like I was breaking the rules, a kid like me drinking coffee. I'm a Mormon, and little did I know that I was playing right into the Postum nickname of "Mormon coffee." However, the label had the word "coffee" on it, even though it only compared Postum with coffee, and I felt like I was livin' on the edge...don't mess with me cuz pretty soon I'll be drinking Mountain Dew. But there was still the issue of taste. I'd never tasted coffee and thus I had no idea what I was in for.
The moment of truth
Per the directions, I boiled water, added some Postum, and tasted...possibly the worst drink in the universe. But all was not lost. I already knew there was a possible remedy. I distinctly remember having this question in my mind as a child, "Why, if we did not drink coffee, did we have Coffee-mate in the cupboard? I don't remember asking my sweet mother, but I surely must have before I ever attempted Postum, and thus I had an idea that Coffee-mate could improve the taste...and it did, a little. And a little was all I needed to acquire the taste. Yes. Postum is an acquired taste, even with creamer, which for me is a requirement..
Once I acquired the taste, it never left me. Let me explain, and don't get me wrong. Given the tweenaged to thirty-something choice of hot cocoa Vs. Postum, it was no contest. Duh! Hot cocoa won out every time. For years, at least 20, I didn't drink Postum at all. Once in a while I saw Postum at the grocery store, reminisced, and moved onto the excitement of hot cocoa. For the longest time, Postum was only a reminder of the powdered luxuries I did not have as a youth but now have anytime I want. Things have changed. I'm older and my tastes are perhaps a bit more mature. Very recently, in my 39th year, I truly caught a craving for Postum that could not be satisfied with any other hot drink.
But what could be so good and so unforgettable that I could crave it after 20 years of abstinence? It's difficult to describe the allure, but here goes: The crystals and the prepared drink smell roasted, foreshadowing the robust flavor about to come. When the scalding hot liquid first hits your tongue, it's a disappointment that there seems to be no detectable flavor. Patience is required to realize the satisfying taste and joy that is Postum. Waiting a few moments for the liquid to pass toward the back of your tongue, and a few moments longer after swallowing, the aftertaste eventually arrives and is, in my estimation, life-changing. Once the first sip has been had, each sip thereafter is an immediate reminder to your taste buds of the incredible aftertaste, and therefore you don't have to wait anymore for Postum pleasure with each subsequent sip.
Here's the hook, and I will compare with hot cocoa. Hot cocoa is of course very rich and immediately gratifying. After you are done with the hot cocoa, however, the aftertaste is bitter as it is with anything containing a lot of refined sugar. I would go so far as to say the aftertaste is unpleasantly bitter and undesirable, to the point that I sometimes wonder if it was worth drinking it. Instant gratification with a negative consequence, a young person's game. Postum is quite the opposite. It starts off subtle and rewards the drinker with a bold roasted flavor, with a very light touch of molasses, resulting in the most satisfying and long lasting aftertaste. But wait, there's more. This Postum rapture comes without the sugar induced coma, not to mention the caffeine let-down. Welcome to the world of adulthood, where delayed gratification with zero negative consequences reign supreme.
I cannot stress enough the importance of the aftertaste. The aftertaste is so powerful that it has burned itself into my tongue's soul. The aftertaste is so potent that it is unforgettable even after 20 years. It is so robust that before I tasted my first cup in 20 years, I knew with certainty what the aftertaste would be like, and I was right. Same satisfying aftertaste. The aftertaste is so impressive that if I were Pavlov's dog, at the sound of his bell, I would wish that I could be cryogenically frozen until sometime after 1912, when C. W. Post invented the most wonderful instant hot beverage in the world.
The aftertaste is so endearing that when I looked (in 2012) for Postum at my grocery store, and couldn't find it, I deeply mourned. When I looked in the innerwebs for where to buy Postum, I was shocked and angered that Kraft had discontinued its production back in 2007, to the extent that I had thoughts of somehow resurrecting Postum myself. When I searched a little harder, I was relieved to find that Postum had been restored by Eliza's Quest Foods, who I now consider one of my guardian angels sent from heaven to save me from Postum starvation. The aftertaste is so heavenly that when I found Postum on Amazon for $25.00 with (prime shipping!), I didn't complain that the cost was outrageous relative to when it was distributed by Kraft. Instead I rejoiced that I could have that taste back in my mouth in only 2 shipping days! The aftertaste is so indescribably beautiful that I'm pondering on how I might purchase Postum by the case so that I can have a lifetime supply.
Apology to Coffee Drinkers
If you drink coffee, and you by some miracle you read all this, you must be chuckling and thinking, "you poor, poor, ignorant soul." I freely admit that if I was not so faithful to my doctrine, I would love and adore coffee and polygamously marry every version of it until there was no room for Postum in my life. But I do not regret my monogamous Postum loyalty. Its aftertaste has been a quiet and faithful companion of mine since those early days of courtship.
Dear Postum, I love you and I always will.