If you don’t believe it, detour here on your summer road trip and ask at the Grand Forks Historical Society.
It’s not just Cream of Wheat here. Grand Forks is also home to the “Olive Garden heard around the world.” At least it’s the one that prompted a glowing, earnest review by Grand Forks Herald writer Marilyn in 2012—then spread through social media. Read her review, then drop by for that raspberry lemonade.
The society’s museum, which features a complex of historic buildings, has a little exhibit on the lore and majesty of creamed wheat put together in 1993, the centennial of the hot cereal’s debut. It tells of the curious lunch habits of Frank Amidon, the head miller of Diamond Milling Company. He’d spend his break time experimenting with farina, which led to the beginnings of Cream of Wheat as we know it. Within a few years, operations moved to Minneapolis, but Grand Forks remains eternally linked to the cereal.
“I remember going to my grandparents and eating it,” says Leah Byzewski, director of the society and Grand Forks native. “There was always something soothing about it—adding some butter, sugar, a little bit of milk. We kids definitely preferred it to the oatmeal my English/Scottish grandparents would make us.”
The Diamond Milling Company grain elevator burned down in 1974. The site is now the headquarters of the Grand Forks Police Department.
Elsewhere, the town of 90,000 doesn’t necessarily tout its cereal ties with parades or steaming-bowl “welcome” signs, but you can get a bowl at the Roadhouse Café, a popular truck stop just off I-29 that serves them all day for $2.99.
While you’re there, tip your hat to Frank Amidon’s snacking experiments from days past. And maybe get a side of bacon.
Robert Reid is a travel writer based in Portland, Ore. He’s covered the Great Plains for Lonely Planet’s USA guidebook and is now the Offbeat Observer for National Geographic Traveler.
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