by AT News Team

The cereal giant Sanitarium Foods is threatening small, independent restaurants that make their own “Granola” because the company, owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, holds the trademark on that word in Australia. At least, that’s what Jared Ingersoll, proprietor of Danks Street Depot in Sydney, told The Sunday Telegraph.
 
Considering how much publicity he got out of the story, it is possible to wonder if he simply made it up. Australians are known to love an underdog. Sanitarium Foods would only confirm to the newspaper “that Granola is a registered trade mark … and has been held by the company in Australia since 1921.” The reporter complained that corporate offices were “closed for religious observance reasons” on Friday afternoon.
 
“It is believed others have been contacted by Sanitarium,” the copyrighted story by Elizabeth Meryment said. “Mr. Ingersoll said it was overkill to employ lawyers to pursue small operators over a commonly-used name.”
 
Granola is a word in the same class with “Xerox” (meaning a photocopy) and “Hoover” (meaning a vacuum cleaner). A trade name can become so successful that it makes its way into general usage in the English language. When the founder of Adventist health care, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, invented the product it was actually called Granula. A competing company produced a similar product and first used the name “Granola,” which Kellogg’s brother and business manager later bought the rights to.
 
There are many thousands of Adventists and others who make their own mix of nuts, grains and other things and call it Granola. There could be hundreds of variations on the recipe. As it is trademarked by Sanitarium Foods, Granola includes oats, wheat, corn, rice, sugar, sunflower oil, dried apple pieces, corn maltodextrin, salt, wheat gluten, barley malt extract and flavoring.
 
According to The Sunday Telegram, Ingersoll’s version is made from rolled oats, almonds, pepitas, hazel nuts, cashews, walnuts, maple syrup, butter and cinnamon. He toasts in his kitchen and serves it with pear yogurt. He has removed the word “Granola” from his menu, replacing it with “Cereal Nuts” and an explanation that it is “not you know what … you can’t use that name.”
 
“This is an example of an institution that is on the defensive because it does not know what to do with its success in the mass culture,” an American observer told Adventist Today. “Adventists have for generations defined themselves as a small, marginalized sect. When they come to a position of real influence, even in something as simple as breakfast cereal, they are instinctively defensive and usually do not come up with ways to leverage that influence for larger goals.”