Muesli was not originally intended as a breakfast food, but as an appetiser similar to bread and butter. It was consumed as Schweizer Znacht, but not as a breakfast cereal.
It was introduced around 1900 by Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. It was inspired by a similar “strange dish” that he and his wife had been served on a hike in the Swiss Alps.
Bircher-Benner himself referred to the dish simply as “d’Spys” (Swiss German for “the dish”, in German “die Speise”); it was commonly known as Apfeldiätspeise (Apple Diet Meal). Bircher opened a chalet-style sanitorium in Zürichberg called Lebendige Kraft (lit.: lively power). These facilities had risen in popularity during the era of lebensreform, a social movement which valued health foods and vegetarianism.
Muesli is a cold oatmeal dish based on rolled oats and ingredients such as grains, nuts, seeds and fresh or dried fruits. Muesli was traditionally prepared with milk or cream, a squeeze of citrus juice, often with a sweetener such as honey, and soaked overnight.Yoghurt or other milk products are now commonly added to packaged and homemade muesli recipes.