John McCann's Oatmeal can painting

McCann's Oatmeal by Jen Norton, Acrylic on Paper

In my quest to paint everyday objects and food related themes, I recently rediscovered my “John McCann’s Steel Cut Oatmeal” can while preparing breakfast. Oatmeal is a great way to start the day. I love it with brown sugar and butter, or topped with nuts and berries. When I’m feeling especially healthy, I’ll add in a little flax seed. But one shouldn’t overlook the other true gem of John McCann’s…the can itself! A veritable Who’s Who of the historical oat world to study while your cereal simmers (and it may take you the whole-grain-30-minutes to read it).

The 200 year history of the Irish oats, including their award in 1893 for “Uniformity of Granulation” can be found here. Doesn’t sound like the most exciting competition to judge, but good for good ol’ John. I personally appreciate his attention to granulation.

Just in case you ever get an oatmeal question on Jeopardy, I’ve provided the text on the historical sections of the can for you. Let’s all pause to remember the lives of the oatmeal men listed:

Side One:
World’s Columbian Exhibition, Chicago, 1893
John McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal
Certificate of Award, Uniformity of Granulation
Approved: N.B. Critchfield, President of Departmental Committee
Signed: Chas Keith, Individual Judge
Approved: John Boyd Thacher, Chariman Executive Committee of Awards
Dated 28th June, 1894

Side Two:
International Exhibition 1876
Certificate of Award
John McCann Steel Cut Oatmeal
Group IV
United States Centennial Commission
(In accordance with the Act of Congress)
Philadelphia, September 27th, 1876.
John L Campbell, Secretary, A.T. Goshorn, Director General, Jos. R. Hawley, President

By coincidence I was introduced to The Sweet Beet, a blog about food origins, just after I painted my oatmeal can. They have a good discussion of the health benefits of various oatmeal styles here.

May the “Men of Oats” live on in our creative imaginations, blogs and breakfast bowls! Now, if I could only get my husband to eat them. What’s your favorite way to eat oatmeal?