Puff Piece: Breakfast Cereal’s Secret Weapon

Ted Allen. (Photo by Jason Bahr/Getty Images for Pure Leaf)

You couldn’t fault a passerby for running for cover last Tuesday night in Carroll Gardens. The rounds sounded like large-bore ammunition, as if the Battle of Brooklyn was restaged on Union Street.

But it was no gun—or at least not a deadly one—that caused such a racket. It was a puffing gun, an archaic 3,200-pound, truck-size piece of food technology that uses intense pressure to create puffed cereals (hence the name). In the mid-20th century, the puffing gun revolutionized breakfast cereal. It’s responsible for everything from Cheerios to Cap’n Crunch to Kix. In other words, it changed the grain game.

Standing atop the puffing gun, which was parked outside the Green Building, a former brass foundry, was David Arnold, the visionary mixologist of Booker and Dax and founder of the as-of-yet homeless Museum of Food and Drink, or MOFAD.

There were plenty of chefs in attendance, like Anita Lo, Pichet Ong, Cesare Casella and Mark Ladner, who were all hoping to puff stuff. Wylie Dufresne, of Alder and wd~50, told the Transom he was “going to puff some amaranth.”  

The event, which cost other sundry foodie types $300 each to watch shit get puffed and was titled “Puff Party,” was held to support the embryonic museum. While the fledgling institution ultimately hopes to have a home—exact location TBD—for now, MOFAD is a traveling series of exhibitions, of which “BOOM! The Puffing Gun and the Rise of Breakfast Cereal” is the first installment.

Chopped host Ted Allen, who was an early supporter of MOFAD, was the evening’s guest of honor. “When I first heard about their Kickstarter, I tweeted it out,” Mr. Allen, who has more than 88,000 followers, told the Transom, before pausing.

“I hate saying that word,” he soon continued. “I always want to say twatted.”

This line of discussion evolved—or maybe devolved?—into a conversation about a not-yet-existent app to be called Twattr (its purpose could be along the lines of Grindr). At any rate, we should mention that the Kickstarter campaign surpassed its goal by $26,000. Score one for Twattr!

The Transom soon fell into conversation with TV producer Tad Low, who is a longtime friend of Mr. Arnold and is currently working on a new food show. “It’s called Don’t Let Them Eat Cake,” he explained. “Basically, when we see people about to eat things that are bad for them, our host comes and swats it out of their hand.”

Sadly, we had to inform Mr. Low that show already existed. It’s called Michael Bloomberg. Puff Piece: Breakfast Cereal’s Secret Weapon