Post Cereal Owes Its Success To One Influential Female Leader

Marjorie Merriweather Post was a prominent American businesswoman, philanthropist, and socialite who played a pivotal role in the success of the Postum Cereal Company, known today as Post Consumer Brands. Born in 1887 in Springfield, Illinois, she was the only child of Charles William "C.W." Post, the founder of the titular food and beverage giant. After C.W. Post's death in 1914, Marjorie inherited the majority of the Post estate, including a full stake in its breakfast enterprise. As a result, she became one of the wealthiest women in the U.S. and took control of her father's operation at age 27.

Under Ms. Post's leadership, the Postum Cereal Company flourished, and her keen business sense and marketing prowess were instrumental in the company's reputation. She understood the importance of innovation and diversification, expanding the company's product line beyond its flagship brand, Postum, a caffeine-free coffee alternative made from whole grains. (Her father believed that drinking traditional coffee resulted in a number of negative side effects, including stunting one's growth — a myth that has since been debunked.)

With Marjorie Post at the helm, the company purchased Jell-O, Birdseye Frozen Foods, Maxwell House Coffee, Swan's Down Cake Flour, and Hellmann's Mayonnaise. She continued to merchandise several products her late father invented, such as Grape-Nuts, a wheat- and barley-based cereal, and Post Toasties, a crispy cereal similar to Kellogg's Corn Flakes.

Marjorie Post was also a philanthropist

Even as a young girl, Marjorie Merriweather Post understood many key business concepts, thanks to her father's position, but her eventual influence extended well beyond the boardroom. She was deeply involved in philanthropy and used her wealth to support charitable organizations such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the Boy Scouts of America. She was also particularly passionate about the arts, education, and healthcare and generously donated to various museums and universities, among other institutions.

Throughout her life, Post remained a trailblazer and beloved figure in society, and her accomplishments at the renowned food empire are still celebrated today. Comedian Amy Schumer stars as Post in Jerry Seinfeld's 2024 movie "Unfrosted," which tells a farcical origin story for Pop-Tarts, the real-life toaster pastry created by William Post, who passed away in February 2024. (Despite their identical surname, Pop-Tarts' creator is not related to the heiress.)

Marjorie Post's contributions to the Postum Cereal Company — later renamed General Foods before it became Post Consumer Brands — laid the foundation for its ongoing success and solidified Post's place as one of the most prestigious consumer goods pioneers of all time. Today, the Post brand portfolio also includes pantry staples like Chips Ahoy! cookies, Raisin Bran, Honeycomb cereal, and Premier Protein.