The Surprising Origin Of Chex Mix

For many of us, Chex Mix is an iconic childhood snack that was both brought to grade school in ziplock bags and laid out at holiday parties. It's often savory, umami taste from cheddar squares, pretzels, and other salty crackers combined with the more neutral crunch of Chex cereal has been beloved for decades.

Whether store-bought or from your grandmother's kitchen, the seemingly glorified trail mix was something we all enjoyed as tots, but few of us know about the surprising origin story of this snack.

It already might be a surprise to find out that before being sold to General Mills in 1996 (via The Wall Street Journal), Chex cereal was the creation of Ralston Purina. If you're a pet parent, that name might sound familiar — it's the same name that's on puppy's food and your cat's litter. So how did a pet food company come up with such a robust line of cereal and subsequently, one of America's favorite snacks?

How did Chex Mix arrive at our party tables?

Like how Chex cereal came to be, Chex Mix was also the creation of Ralston Purina, the pet food company. But if the possibility that your favorite breakfast cereal was produced in the same factory as wet cat food makes you uneasy, don't worry. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ralston Purina passed on all of its "human" products to Ralcorp in 1994. And as stated before, the Chex brand was sold to the popular consumer foods company, General Mills, only a couple years later. Ralston Purina was then acquired by Nestle S.A. of Switzerland in 2001, forming the Nestle Purina Petcare Company, according to the same article.

However, despite all these acquisitions and merges with other companies, Ralston Purina gets all the credit for creating Chex Mix. According to a blog post on the General Mills' website, the Chex Mix was popularized by the wife of a Ralston Purina executive when she brought it to a holiday party in 1955. This homemade variety had actually originated before the prepackaged mixes were put out into stores in 1987, according to Mental Floss. Nonetheless both kinds of mixes are still hits today and we love them in all varieties — Cheesy Ranch, Cajun Kick, and Queso Taco — no matter their bizarre origins.