Cracked Wheat for Breakfast

Cracked Wheat for Breakfast

Sift wheat in the wind, wash it in three waters then put in the big flat pan in the oven to dry and brown a little. “And say,” Leora Wilson wrote her Navy boys in 1934, “it is delicious when cooked. I like it with just butter, no sugar.”

The Wilsons received small allotments from Delbert and Donald in those Depression days. In early December, they used the money for rent and a couple tons of coal from Waukee. “Sure is a blessing to us. Guess you know how thankful we are,” she wrote them.

Danny Wilson (age 12), Cousin Merrill Goff (14), Dale (13) and Junior Wilson (10). Spats is in front of Merrill. Dexter, Iowa, August 1935.

In November 1935, she wrote, “You bet, we have good old cracked wheat for breakfast–got it on cooking this eve–whole pan full. Gets good and done. These kids, especially the boys, just can’t get along for breakfast without it. We couldn’t find any for about 2 weeks when we ran out this fall. Ate oatmeal until we finally got some at the elevator and we got 2 ½ bushels. It was so nice and clean–$1.15 per bu. The boys think it’s punishment to eat oatmeal.”

Leora, Junior, and Clabe Wilson. Dexter, 1935.

During World War II, the Wilson brothers wrote home about great chow they got in the military. From Dale, 1942, who’d enlisted in the Army Air Force, “I gotta say the chow here is pretty good. Some of the best eatin’ in my life. I have all the fruit, vegetables, milk, and buttermilk that I like. I even have my cracked wheat for breakfast with all the rich cream I want, along with whole wheat bread. Can’t complain.

Even Junior, in 1944, also in the Army Air Force, “The other morning I had some good ol’ wheat! I ate it with the same kind of tablespoons you have had ever since I can remember. Boy it was good. So was the reminder of home.

Isn’t it amazing the humble things that evoke nostalgia!

Here are the spoons Junior mentioned.



  1. This post caught my eye this morning because I am very fond of cracked wheat as the basis for a salad. Growing up in the Depression, my dad developed a real aversion to oatmeal. He couldn’t abide the stuff.

    • I enjoyed bulgar salad years ago, before I could no longer tolerate gluten. I was surprised to learn that wheat is also the basis of Postum, which my grandmother also enjoyed. (I have a jar that still has the aroma in it!)

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