The word muesli is a Swiss-German variation of the German word “müs” meaning porridge and the diminutive suffix, “-li.” The “invention” of muesli is credited to Swiss physician and nutritional pioneer, Maximilian Bircher-Benner. The recipe consisted of oat flakes, raw apples, condensed milk, nuts and lemon juice and it led Dr. Bircher-Benner to overwhelming improvements in the health of many of his patients. Dr. Bircher-Benner determined that much of the sickness experienced by his patients could be alleviated with increased exercise and a more nutritious diet. He was able to heal and prevent disease through a diet rich in raw grains, fruits, and vegetables, and with moderate exercise including walking and gardening daily.
The first mass-produced muesli was introduced in 1959 by Somalon AG (now bio-familia AG), a Swiss company that got its start with muesli. Somalon AG used Dr. Bircher-Benner’s recipe to create Bio-Birchermuesli, “the healthy food for the whole family.” Bio-Birchermuesli was exported to Germany, the US, Austria, England and the Netherlands in 1960. In the 1970s, Somalon introduced “Crunchy Muesli,” a muesli toasted with sugars and oils, similar to today’s granolas. The product was introduced in response to US taste preferences.