Quaker Oats was founded in 1901 by the merger of four oat mills:
The Quaker Mill Company of Ravenna, Ohio, which held the trademark on the Quaker name and was founded by Henry Parsons Crowell, who bought the bankrupt Quaker Oat Mill Company, also in Ravenna. He was holding the key positions between the general manager, president and chairman of the company from 1888 until late 1943. He was called the cereal tycoon. He donated more than 70% of his wealth to the Crowell Trust.
A cereal mill in Cedar Rapids, Iowa owned by John Stuart, his son Robert Stuart, and their partner George Douglas;
The German Mills American Oatmeal Company, owned by “The Oatmeal King”, Ferdinand Schumacher of Akron, Ohio;
The Rob Lewis & Co. American Oats and Barley Oatmeal Corporation. Formally known as “Good For Breakfast” instant oatmeal mix.
The company expanded into numerous areas, including other breakfast cereals and other food and drink products, and even into unrelated fields such as toys.
In 1969, Quaker acquired Fisher-Price, a toy company and spun it off in 1991.
Quaker Oats’ “Chewy Yogourt” Granola bars (available in Canada)
In the 1970s, the company financed the making of the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, obtaining in return a licence to use a number of the product names mentioned in the movie for candy bars.
In 1982 Quaker Oats formed US Games, a company that created games for the Atari 5200. After one year they went out of business.
In 1983, Quaker bought Stokely-Van Camp, Inc., makers of Van Camp’s and Gatorade.
Quaker bought Snapple for $1.7 billion in 1994 and sold it to Triarc in 1997 for $300 million. Triarc sold it to Cadbury Schweppes for $1.45 billion in September 2000. It was spun off in May 2008 to its current owners, Dr Pepper Snapple Group.
In 1996, Quaker spun off its frozen food business, selling it to Aurora Foods (which was bought by Pinnacle Foods in 2004).
In August 2001, Quaker was bought out by Pepsico because Pepsi wanted to add Gatorade to its arsenal of beverages and thus break into the isotonic sports beverage market. The merger created the fourth-largest consumer goods company in the world. Though the main prize for PepsiCo was Gatorade noncarbonated sports drink, Quaker’s cereal and snack food division serves as seemingly healthier complement to the existing Frito-Lay salty-snacks division.
Since the late 1980s, actor Wilford Brimley has appeared in television commercials extolling the virtues of oat consumption, typically to a young child, as to introduce the concept of oatmeal consumption as a long tradition.