The original 1959 product was
a vanilla-flavored powder that was mixed with water. An IBM syllable-scrambling machine came up with the name. Eventually the line was expanded. Cans in flavors such as chocolate and butterscotch
contained about 225 calories and, with minerals and vitamins added, were marketed as nutritional. But many consumers thought the product was just a tad tastier than chalk.
Other extensions included Metrecal cookies, Metrecal clam chowder and Metrecal tuna and noodles. Sales started to slide in the mid-60s as competition intensified. "Even reasonably steadfast diners simply grew tired" of Metrecal, wrote Peter Wyden in The Overweight Society (1965). "The monotony was deadening."