Why are grocery store displays everywhere featuring Chex cereal this time of year?
Two words: Chex Mix.
I’m a big Chex Mix fan, both the homemade and the packaged varieties, so I was curious to learn more about the history and popularity of it.
As best as the Chex Mix history books can tell me, the first recipe for “Chex Party Mix” appeared on boxes of Chex cereal in 1952 (Ralston Purina introduced Chex in 1937).
Legend has it that it took until 1955 for Chex Party Mix to become popular as a holiday treat after the wife of a Ralston Purina executive in St. Louis first served it at a holiday function. Nearly 30 years later, in 1987, Ralston Purina introduced the first pre-packaged Chex Mix in two flavors, Traditional and Cheddar.
General Mills purchased Chex Mix and Chex cereals in 1996. Since then, we’ve built up the Chex Mix name with 16 different flavors.
“Traditional, Cheddar and Bold have been the most popular flavors in recent years,” says Kendra Krolik, an associate marketing manager at General Mills. “However, this year we launched Muddy Buddies as a year-round flavor (previously it was only offered over the holidays), and it has been wildly successful.”
Vocal fans of Muddy Buddies on the Chex Mix Facebook page helped urge that switch to year-round.
Kendra says the success of the Muddy Buddies bags led to the launch of a new holiday-only flavor, Cookies and Cream. It will become an everyday item under the Muddy Buddies line next year.
While I enjoy the pre-packaged Chex Mix, the holidays are my time to make my own mix. In fact, my relatives claim I have a gift for it. For what it’s worth, I stick to the original recipe, but with a slight seasoning adjustment here or there, baked in the oven.
I asked Lori Fox, a food creative in the Betty Crocker Kitchens, why the homemade Chex Mix is such a holiday favorite for many families.
“The flavors and variety of crunchy textures make it so appealing,” says Lori. “My mom used to take out her big blue and white speckled turkey roaster so she could make a big batch of the original recipe. Oh, it made the kitchen smell so good. We couldn’t even wait until it cooled down, it was gobbled down warm!”
Those who are more adventurous than me can find more than 100 Chex Mix recipes on BettyCrocker.com, from the sweet, to savory, salty, salty-sweet, or something exotic. You also can find some recipes on Chex.com.
Lori told me the most popular recipes include the Original Chex Party Mix, Muddy Buddies, Moroccan Crunch (with cumin, coriander, cinnamon and ginger), Hot and Spicy Chex Mix, Mexican-inspired Taco-Seasoned Chex Mix, Caramel Crispy Chex Mix, Cheesy Ranch Chex Mix or straight from the coffee shop, Chai Crunch.
Recipes include directions for the oven, the microwave and even a slow cooker.