Puffed grains have been made for centuries with the simplest methods like popping popcorn. Modern puffed grains are often created using high temperature, pressure, or extrusion.
People eat puffed grains in many ways, but it can be as simple as puffed grain alone and with salt for taste. Commercial products such as Corn Flakes and Corn Pops mix many ingredients into a homogeneous batter. The batter is then formed into shapes then toasted and/or extruded. This causes them to rise, but not puff or pop. Puffed grains are very healthful if plain, but when other ingredients are mixed with them they lose some of their previous health benefits.
Puffed grains are popular as breakfast cereals and in the form of rice cakes. While it is easy to recognize that cereals came from whole grains, the expansion factor for rice cakes is even greater, and the final product is somewhat more homogeneous.
The oldest puffed grain was found in west central New Mexico in 1948 and 1950. Ears of popcorn were found that were up to 4,000 years old. These pieces of puffed grain were smaller than a penny to two inches in size and can be made in a similar way to popping popcorn. The modern process of making puffed grains was invented by Dr. Alexander P. Anderson in 1901. He was doing an experiment dealing with the effect of heat and pressure on corn starch granules where he put them in six glass tubes, sealed them, and put them in an oven until they changed color. When Dr. Anderson took them out and cracked them open an explosion happened, he had made the corn starch turn into a puffed, white mass. Dr. Alexander’s invention of puffed grain was first introduced at the World’s Fair in St. Louis in 1904. The puffed grain was shot from a battery of eight guns and on a poster it was called “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”