• Li Juaneza

God and oats

Henry Seymour and William Heston registered Quaker Oats in 1877, making it the first trademarked breakfast cereal. Four years later, the company declared bankruptcy. Enter 26-year-old Henry Parsons Crowell, a novice in the oats business who had a deep faith in God.

The young Crowell envisioned oatmeal as the breakfast food on every American table. He studied the business, did his research but still faced many problems. The next thing he did was unusual in his time - he sought God's help for his business.


During this period, oats were sold in barrels or boxes placed on the floors of stores making them prone to worm, insect, and pest infestation. In a brilliant move, Crowell sold the oats in individual cardboard containers instead with the original image of the Quaker Oats brand - a Quaker man holding a scroll with "pure" written on it.

With the help of his newly formed organization the Oatmeal Millers Association (composed of 20 other millers, and later renamed American Cereal Company), Crowell was able to roll his idea out to American consumers. They loved it and suddenly everyone wanted to have "pure" Quaker Oats for breakfast.

Crowell was an innovator in branding, advertising, and marketing. He launched "the first national magazine advertising

program for a breakfast cereal."

Under his guidance, the American Cereal Company ran the first all-Quaker Oats train from Iowa to Oregon and pioneered direct mail marketing of 1/2 oz. "trial-size sample" boxes of Quaker Oats in Portland, Oregon. They also printed a recipe for Oatmeal Bread on the Quaker Oats box, the first to ever do so.

As the United States plunged into economic depression in what was known as the Panic of 1893, Quaker Oats became the healthy budget choice for families. Businesses folded, but Henry Crowell dared to spend money on advertising buying newspaper and magazine ads which he himself wrote and putting billboards on railroad boxcars.

He created "contests with prizes for mailing in the top of the box." Soon, housewives across the country became Crowell's quasi salespeople requesting their local grocers to stock Quaker Oats in their stores.

Crowell also got involved in "Perfection Stoves". His business-savvy wife Susan Coleman introduced him to Frank Drury who invented the lamp-stove. They founded the Cleveland Foundry Company which sold the stoves turning them into millionaires by the end of the century.

Quaker continued its creative evolution in Crowell's time when it launched the Quaker Quick Oats in 1922, making it one of the first convenience products in the world.

Funding the Kingdom

From a bowl of oats came a branding and marketing revolution and backing for Christian organizations including the famous Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

Henry Crowell knew full well that his wealth was not for his enjoyment alone, but was for funding the work of the Gospel.

He not only financially supported the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago but also served as the chairman of its board for 40 years. He and his wife Susan used every opportunity to share the Word of God that many of their peers came to put their faith in Jesus Christ.

The Crowell's during their lifetime sponsored more than "100 like-minded evangelical organizations through the Henry Parsons and Susan Coleman Crowell Trust." Today, the trust continues to fund work among "unreached, biblically illiterate, highest need and least resourced areas and populations of the world, holistic gospel expressions, key influencers, and care for the oppressed, especially women, needing care, protection & enablement."

Upon his death, Henry Parsons Crowell had contributed 70 percent of his business earnings. He was the steward who was faithful with the five talents. He was not only given an additional five talents but was set over many things. His endowment into God's kingdom continues to endure touching thousands of lives for the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The "cereal tycoon" sought the counsel of God, made a fortune, invested into the advancement of the Kingdom of God, and received more blessings which have flourished beyond his lifetime.


Alcorn, R. (2020, September 11). Meet Henry Parsons Crowell, founder of Quaker oats and a Generous christ-follower - blog. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from


Challies, T. (2013, November 17). The philanthropists: Henry CROWELL. Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.challies.com/articles/the-philanthropists-henry-crowell/

God, G. (2013, September 15). Henry Parsons Crowell – Quaker Oats. Retrieved May 12, 2021, from http://www.giantsforgod.com/henry-parsons-crowell-quaker-oats/

The Henry Parsons Crowell and Susan Coleman Crowell Trust. (n.d.). Our funding priorities. Retrieved May 13, 2021, from http://crowelltrust.org/our-funding-priorities/

Old fashioned oats, quick OATS, SNACKS. (n.d.). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://www.quakeroats.com/about-quaker-oats/quaker-history

Quaker oats Company. (2021, May 10). Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaker_Oats_Company

Silliman, D. (2015, October 26). How a pioneer of Branding Invented Christian Fundamentalism. Retrieved May 12, 2021, from https://religiondispatches.org/how-marketers-invented-old-time-religion/

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