Generations of faithful Latter-day Saints have stored a jar of caffeine-free Postum in the cupboard, making this instant hot beverage as much of a Utah icon – or joke – as the beehive hairdo or the green Jell-O mold.
Lately, though, Postum lovers have been stirred by emotion after learning production of this powdered coffee substitute has stopped.
“Basically the overall demand for the product, both on a national and regional level, declined to the point that we decided to discontinue the product,” said Rene Zahery, a spokeswoman for Kraft, which purchased the Post-brand products several years ago.
“Whatever remains in the marketplace is all there is of Postum,” she said.
That’s bad news for Postum lovers such as Don Corum. The Salt Lake City resident finished a jar about a month ago and hasn’t been able to find a replacement at any Utah grocery stores. Desperate, he looked on the Internet, but refused to pay $8.50 for a jar that normally costs $3.50.
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Taking a break?
Like many people, he’s trying to find a substitute. There are several caffeine-free beverages from Europe, such as Pero or Cafix. But nothing has the beloved cereal-flavor of Postum.
“I’ll miss it,” Corum said.
In 1895, C.W. Post, a Seventh-day Adventist, created the powdered drink as a healthy, caffeine-free alternative to coffee. At the time it even was called Postum Food Coffee.
Not long after its introduction, Postum became the elixir for faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who eschew coffee and tea. It became such a part of Mormon culture that instead of having a “coffee table” in the living room, some families called it the “Postum table.”
Recent government health studies have listed Postum as having high levels of acrylamide, a substance that can cause cancer and reproductive problems in animals and act as a neurotoxin in humans. But even such findings have not deterred fans.
“This is one Mormon who mourns the death of Postum. I’m quite sure that I’m not alone,” William Morris wrote on his LDS arts and culture blog – The Motley Vision (www.motleyvision.org). The blog has received numerous responses about Postum’s passing.
“I don’t drink it much anymore, but it is still my go-to beverage when I have flu- or cold-related congestion,” Morris said, adding that Postum was a way for conservative Mormons to express themselves.
“There was also the fun of being part of a consumer subculture, of supporting a product that was a little weird, fusty and yet not at all underground,” he writes.
Robert Campbell, a resident of Long Beach, Calif., started drinking Postum after his doctor told him to avoid caffeine. He liked the flavor and the added fiber Postum provided.
Campbell has posted Kraft’s toll-free consumer hot line on several Internet Web sites and blogs (1-800-431-7678) in hopes that people will call the company and complain.
“It’s tragic,” he said. “I’d like to see them bring it back in some form.”