Introduced in 1991
- Rain Forest Crisp and Rain Forest Granola cereals were introduced in 1991 by Bob Weir and Mickey Hart of the the hippy, jam band The Grateful Dead. The product line was conceived by the band's former manager Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa.
This cereal was part of Rainforest Products, an environmentally-conscience company established in 1991 with a mission to educate people about the disappearing rainforest. A portion of the company's profits were donated to environmental groups. Rainforest Products was originally located in Mill Valley, California.
The product line was conceived by former Grateful Dead manager Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa. When the company introduced its first two products, Rainforest Crisp and Rainforest Granola in 1991, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart from the Grateful Dead were on hand. Bob Weir was quoted as saying the new products would make "eating breakfast an environmentally responsible act." Weir also provided some financing for the launch of the products.
The cereals included nuts that were grown in the Amazon rain forests. The back of the cereal boxes informed morning readers about the plight of the rainforest and what they might do to help. According to the company's then-CEO Steve Bogoff, "In most households, the cereal box is the only package that gets read."
The cereals were available primarily in Hawaii and California.
Rainforest Products also produced Rainforest Flakes cereal before the line was absorbed by the equally-environmentally-minded company Golden Temple. Through it's Peace Cereal Brand, Golden Temple now offers Banana Nut Rainforest Crisp and Vanilla Nut Rainforest Crisp.
SatSantokh.com offers a first person account of the cereals' origins from their creator, Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa:
I started Rainforest Cereals in 1991 - a result of my organizing the Grateful Dead Rainforest Benefit at Madison Square Garden in 1988. I had been a manager of the Grateful Dead in the late 1960Ôs, and had maintained a close relationship with Jerry Garcia ever since.
I invited Ben Cohen (of Ben & Jerry's) to the post show party where he met Jason Clay of Cultural Survival. Jason had just come back from the Rainforest with a variety of products, about which rainforest residents had told him that if could find a way to sell some, they could continue to live in the rainforest, but if he failed, they would be driven out. This led to the development of Rainforest Crunch [we believe this cereal was renamed Rainforest Crisp after the development phase]. The following summer, both Jason and Ben were speakers at the Creating Our Future summer camp. We were discussing what should be put on the back of the Rainforest Crunch box when I said that if we really wanted people to read the back of a box, we should have a cereal box. This led to the development of Rainforest Products (packaged cereals with Brazil nuts from the rainforest), and my first serious venture into the business world.
The reason Rainforest Products uses Brazil nuts is that they thus far only bear fruit in undisturbed rainforest (there are ongoing attempts to grow Brazil nuts as an orchard crop but none have succeeded). The more value Brazil nuts have, the more incentive there is to maintain the rainforest. Rainforest Products currently buys its Brazil Nuts from Candela Peru, a non-profit Fair Trade Organization located in an area known as the Madre de Dios (about 75,000 square kilometers of rainforest), which assists Brazil nut gatherers by: providing funds via no interest loans which enables gatherers to buy food, fuel, and other essential supplies; providing transportation up and down the rivers in small boats; operating a tree nursery program, planting Brazil nut trees; running a child care center for women cracking nuts; and, most importantly, buying Brazil nuts at above market prices.
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