Update: Red River Cereal is now available for purchase on Amazon!
Unlike most kids who grew up with oatmeal, I grew up with porridge, and that porridge was Red River Cereal.
It wasn’t an every day thing, because it took longer to prepare that pouring a bowl of dry cereal for milk. But often enough Mom would make us porridge. My brother and I loved it. Mom loved it. My sister, not so much.
Once I left home, I tried those quick, serving size, microwaveable flavoured oatmeal packets. But they were never hearty enough. They didn’t remind me of being a kid and eating my porridge.
If I was travelling, and ordered porridge, I learned that what my Mom called porridge, was nothing like what the rest of the world thought porridge was. My porridge was thick and hearty. Other people’s porridge was basically oatmeal.
When I got a bread maker in the 90’s, I found a multigrain loaf recipe that got all of its magic from Red River cereal! After buying a box to make bread, I made the connection that this was indeed the very same porridge of my youth, and I’ve always had a box in the cupboard since.
Not for every day breakfasts, and likely not even in warmer days. But in the dark cold winters, I have often started my day right with a Red River cereal breakfast.
With my last box almost empty, I was looking to restock last year. At first just casually, but then I realized it was never in our grocery store. So I put it on my Whitehorse shopping list and made a point of looking in the city for it.
When I didn’t find it in the city either, I thought it just must be a supply shortage thing, pandemic hoarding or something.
But after many months, I still hadn’t found a box anywhere. Not even an empty spot on the shelves where they used to be.
I started Googling to find out what’s up, only to find out that Smucker’s, who had bought the product, had discontinued it!! At first it was seemingly temporary, but as I searched on, I found page after page of broken hearted porridge lovers.
I broke the news to my sister while she was labouring in the delivery room:
I knew my brother would be more sympathetic. He is a porridge lover!
Well, after a brief mourning period, I decided this porridge of mine was just basic ingredients. Surely I could find a replacement!
I grabbed the box. The ingredients are:
Steel cut wheat, steel cut rye, cracked and whole flax.
I started Googling and found some people who just bought the bulk ingredients and made their own. That would be easy enough, if I had a Bulk Barn store or a feed mill near by! But I don’t.
But I did find a message in a Facebook group of Red River cereal mourners, that mentioned a similar cereal called “Canada’s Great Northern Style Hot Cereal” being sold out of Emo, Ontario (northwestern Ontario). And oddly enough also milled in the USA, in Cook, Minnesota. I looked into the place it was milled in. They sell it too, under a different name – Country Blend Cereal.
They describe the product on their website as:
CANADA’S GREAT NORTHERN STYLE CEREAL, in our opinion, is both better tasting and healthier than Red River. Canadian Pioneers would have manufactured it this way… small scale production using simple, readily available ingredients: cracked wheat, rye, flax, and wild rice.
CANADA’S GREAT NORTHERN STYLE CEREAL is not made the same as Red River. It is manufactured on a much smaller scale with the natural flavouring of wild rice. You will experience a taste much closer to what the Canadian Pioneer would have experienced. It is not only better tasting but also healthier.
The ingredients are similar, but with some wild rice in addition.
I thought about it for awhile, and decided to place an order to try it. It is sold in 2 pound sacks, so I ordered two.
Usually getting anything shipped to Dawson City, Yukon is an ordeal in itself, and I did have a pleasant email exchange with the vendor to verify shipping and my postal code, but no headaches at all, and they shipped my order via Canada Post (the easiest way to ship anything here).
They arrived yesterday, in the cutest little sacks, nicely packaged in cardboard and shipping up here in the mail. Since today is Saturday, a Saturday in January, I could think of nothing better for breakfast!
The directions are the same as Red River cereal. For just one person (Jeff’s with Julie on his porridge opinions), I used 1 cup of water, and 1/3 cup of porridge, to give just over a single serving size.
I added a few raisins during the cooking, and two teaspoons of maple syrup from my friends’ sugar shack near Thunder Bay, Ontario before diving in.
And my review!?!?!
It is good! It smells like Red River cereal. It looks like Red River Cereal. It cooks the same.
But I find it a bit milder in taste, maybe due to the added wild rice? The difference is very slight though.
I give this a two thumbs up!
UPDATE (August 16, 2022) – Several of you have emailed with some great news! The Arva Flour Mill in Ontario has purchased the Red River cereal brand from Smuckers and is producing it again!!
You can buy Red River Cereal online!
Oh my goodness! You had me on the edge of my seat. This is also the cereal my dad made me as a kid (though I like cream of wheat more). I had no idea it was discontinued. How? I’m not convinced about the wild rice. But maybe I will try it. The one I’ve tried is Bob’s 10 grain hot cereal (or 7-grain, there are multiple versions). Except that one of the things I liked about the original was how it was so cheap.
OMG Red River Cereal is discontinued!!!! I had no idea. I cavalierly used the last of my box some time ago with no thought to it being the last. Not that I went to the trouble of making it often. It could stay in your cupboard for years, Now I want some.
I’ve seen the Bob’s 10 or 7 Grain version before, but hadn’t tried it. What did you think of it Shannon?
Another alternative I found online – there is a store in Elmira, Ontario that sells a Red River like mix:
Shipping of the Elmira product is astronomical!
That looks delicious! I’ve never had anything like it, but I do love real oatmeal (not the instant packets).
I have fond memories of Red River Cereal when in the farm. Mom used to make it for us usually on the weekend but when we ran out of oats red river was always there. With cream and dark brown sugar the taste was unforgettable, mmmm. In the last 15 years, while living at our daughters home, on a Saturday morning, I would make pancakes from PC brand flour mix and I would add Red River Cereal to the batter. The grandkids never forgot the wholesome taste of those pancakes. The delicious flavour Red River added to the pancakes was just amazing and unforgettable. While Red River was always part of our family breakfast as a real treat, I’m saddened the cereal brand like so many has been bought up by someone who wasn’t committed to the iconic cereal product and discontinued. All the best fellow mourners. Jim A
I too have enjoyed Red River Cereal for much of my life and mourn the end of an iconic brand and product. I moved from Calgary to Houston in 2003 and found the grocery store isles lacking in hearty breakfast cereal fixings. So on my frequent trips back to Calgary to visit family and for work. I almost always returned with boxes of RRC, Hawkins Cheezies, China Lily Soy Sauce and the real Mars Bar because I couldn’t find a local product that tasted the same. In recent years i’ve had difficulty getting the RRC because of a fire and other production problems they had at their mill but eventually it was on the grocer shelves. But to hear news of the demise of such a special breakfast staple is disheartening. Even my American wife misses our breakfast staple now that it’s no longer available. I wonder if Smuckers can be persuaded to resume RRC production. The company is obviously proud of it’s Brand Name and promotes quality products so why not write them and request the product?
Red River was made with Bulgar wheat. None of the copycats do this. For me they don’t taste like the original.
C. Brooke Vincent- Stafford
You have Made my day!
You have made my Decade! I too was fed this as a child ( in Manitoba). And about 10 years ago I got back on the Red River Cereal train. I went through pretty much the exact experience in not finding it for some time then going online, only to be heartbroken at the news it was discontinued! But what you bought, and made in pics, looks exactly like it. Thank You! So, So Much!
I can’t believe it’s gone😞
I was born and raised in the NWT and RRC was a staple in our house during Winter, basically October to March🙄
I loved it with raisins and maple syrup, thank you for posting the links I will give them a try!
I was almost convinced to order the Great Northern Cereal from Ontario but the price and shipping was discouraging – especially when the price of groceries has risen so much in every way over these last couple of months. Went to Co-op here in Calgary and bought Sonny Boy Cereal today. I’ve used it before when RRC was out of stock and it’s very similar to RRC and only $4.99 for 907 grams. MUCH cheaper than ordering from Ontario and the list of ingredients is just wheat, rye and flax. Another product I’ve been sorry to see unavailable in Canada now for quite a few years is Junket. We used to have it as kids and I loved it with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. My daughter-in-law makes something similar with rennet from cheese making on the farm but I haven’t tried to do it. I understand Junket’s still available in the US.
Noooooo!!! I just started eating RRC after a bit of a hiatus. But as one of the commenters above mentioned, it lasts for years so I had a box in the cupboard which I just finished yesterday morning. To my horror, I could not find it at ANY local grocery store. My googling led me to your blog. I followed the link to the Great Northern Cereal…but it is $50! Yikes!! I have the luxury of living close to a Bulk Barn, so my mission this week is to attempt to replicate the taste of the original. Anyway…thanks for your blog entry. It reminded me so much of my childhood…including a sister who also disclosed that she never really liked RRC, either.
Lisa I’m happy to tell you that red river cereal brand has been purchased by Arva Flour Mill in London Ontario! They are making it and it’s for sale online. Check out their website 🙂
My daughter was talking about it the other day. We had found some at Scoop and Save in Fredericton, NB. I couldn’t remember how to make it so I had to do the search. That’s when I found out why it was no longer in the grocery stores. I’ll try what we got to compare with the real stuff. Another cereal I made for the kids years ago is Buckwheat Porridge. My parents had gotten it at “King’s Landing”, a historical settlement here in NB. I haven’t been able to get it anymore either. It was a smooth, creamy, yellow cereal once it was cooked. It’s funny how we start thinking about things like this and wonder why we can’t find it. Obviously, there are still lots of people who still like their hot cereal on those cold winter mornings, or any morning for that matter.
We are red river cereal growing up. So I’ve always had it in my cupboard. So during COVID Robin Hood quit making multigrain flour. I used it for years as part of my bread recipe , leaving me with only white and whole wheat flour to make bread with. So I decided to use red river cereal in place of the multigrain flour. I make a pot of RRC and cool then adjusted my liquid in the recipe. It works great. Now they are telling no red river cereal wtheck !!! Yikes. I will not be defeated , I will find a way to fix this as well. I don’t get it. Don’t discontinue a product that obviously people eat and like for decades. 🙄
Arva Flour Mills makes it near London Ontario.
Sunny Boy cereal. Same as red river. Made and sourced with local ingredients in Alberta.
Also BulkBarn has a 5 grain (not the 7grain) cereal that is the same.
CBC has posted another story about the Arva mill taking over production of Red River cereal:
I live in Pontiac Michigan and am looking for a source to purchase red river cereal.
At “Bulk Barn”…5 grain cereal if you have Bulk Barn down there or the mill in Ontario will ship it. Shipping for me in Alberta WAY too expensive.
My family must read my blog – I received a total of SEVEN bags of Red River Cereal from the Arva Mill for Christmas! <3
Ha! The Guardian has linked to this blog post in this story:
Welcome Red River Cereal fans! I had a bowl yesterday – delicious!