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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Theodore Drake

Dr. Theodore Drake came to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in 1922 on a Medical Internship, over the next 30 years he would go on to become a top paediatrician and nutrition expert.

In 1929, working with Dr. Frederick Tisdall, Dr. Drake began to intensify and expand his experiments with animals, and tested foods on groups of children in the hospital and in orphanages.

At that time infants were being fed cereal and biscuits consisting mostly of wheat, oats or corn meal. All the bran and germ had to be removed because whole grain cereal was difficult for a baby to digest.

The effort paid off when the doctors discovered how to make a mixture that would contain all the essential vitamins and minerals that babies needed, yet wouldn't cause undue constipation or diarrhea. They added ingredients such as honey to make it more palatable and baked it into a biscuit, which they arranged to have manufactured by a prominent biscuit company under the name "Sunwheat."

But they weren't done. They realized that tiny babies couldn't eat biscuits. A cereal was needed that could be mixed with milk and spoon-fed. So they produced a cereal that had many of the same ingredients as the biscuits. For three months babies and older children in the hospital were fed on the mixture. They liked it, they didn't become constipated and their health improved. But the cereal had one serious drawback. It required lengthy cooking. About this time the practice of drying milk by letting it drip on a red-hot revolving drum and immediately scraping it off was coming into use. The researchers tried this technique with their cooked cereal and it worked. The mixture came off the drum as a bone-dry, flaky powder. Now they had a baby food that filled all their requirements and would keep indefinitely. They called it Pablum.

In 1934, Dr. Drake and Dr. Tisdall, working with the National Dairy Council demonstrate the value of enriching milk with vitamin D. This greatly helped reduce the incidence of the crippling disease called rickets.

Dr. Drake was appointed head of the Research Institute at SickKids in 1949. He held the post until his retirement in 1953.

He was awarded the Order of the British Empire after the Second World War for designing nutrition levels for Royal Canadian Air Force meals and prisoner-of-war parcels.

Dr. Drake died in 1959 at the age of 68.