About John Harvey Kellogg
John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943), American surgeon, hygienist, and food manufacturer. Kellogg was born in Tyrone, Michigan, and educated at Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York City. Kellogg was interested in nutrition, and he and his brother, Will Keith Kellogg, developed processes for improving and successfully manufacturing healthy cereal foods, such as corn flakes.
A Seventh-day Adventist, Kellogg became superintendent of the Adventist Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1876. He was the founder, and from 1923 to 1926 the president, of Battle Creek College and the founder and medical director of the Miami-Battle Creek Sanitarium in Miami Springs, Florida.
In 1906, Will Keith Kellogg founded the W. K. Kellogg company, which continues to be the world’s largest manufacturer of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals. The company makes more than 50 different cereals, including Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, Corn Pops, and Special K. The company also makes convenience foods, such as Pop-Tarts toaster pastries and Eggo frozen waffles. Kellogg is based in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Flaked cereals were invented by accident in 1894 at Battle Creek Sanitarium, a Seventh-Day Adventist health spa run by physician John Harvey Kellogg. For his patients Kellogg prescribed a rigorous regimen of exercise, a strict vegetarian diet, and abstinence from caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco. Kellogg and his brother, William Keith “W. K.” Kellogg, the sanitarium’s business manager, experimented with various foods for the patients’ diets. One day, an experiment with wheat dough was interrupted when Dr. Kellogg was called away for an emergency operation.
When the two men returned the next day, the dough had dried out, but they decided to put it through a roller. Individual flakes resulted, which they baked and served to the patients. Soon former patients began requesting the popular wheat flakes, prompting Dr. Kellogg to start the Sanitas Nut Food Company to produce the cereal and distribute it by mail order. W. K. Kellogg managed the company, which also produced flakes from corn and rice.
Dr. Kellogg had no interest in expanding the company, but 42 other companies sprang up in Battle Creek to take advantage of the cereal-making process—including one started by C. W. Post, a former sanitarium patient. In 1906 W. K. Kellogg formed his own business, the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, to produce an improved corn flake he had developed. Kellogg made the new flakes using only the grit, or heart, of the corn kernel and added malt for flavor.
He found success in the crowded cereal market by spending a substantial portion of his money on advertising. A $4000 ad in Ladies Home Journal increased sales from 33 cases of cereal boxes per day to 2900 cases. By 1911 the company’s advertising budget had reached $1 million. That year Kellogg erected what was then the world’s largest electric sign, in Times Square in New York City, featuring a K in Kellogg that was about 20 m (about 66 ft) tall.
Renamed the Kellogg Company in 1922, the company grew quickly, adding All-Bran in 1916, Rice Krispies in 1928, and opening new cereal plants in Canada, Australia, and England. It weathered the Great Depression by forging ahead with production and advertising. In 1930 Kellogg established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to support agricultural, health, and educational projects. One of the world’s largest philanthropic institutions, the foundation now owns about one-third of the company. In the early 1930s tiny gnomes named Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop! appeared on boxes of Rice Krispies, becoming the first cartoon characters associated with a Kellogg product.
After World War II (1939-1945) Kellogg expanded dramatically, adding more plants in the United States and opening new ones in South Africa, Mexico, Europe, South America, and New Zealand. The postwar baby boom and television advertising boosted sales. Kellogg marketed new lines of presweetened cereals to children, introducing Tony the Tiger in 1953 to promote Kellogg’s Sugar Frosted Flakes of Corn. By 1960 Kellogg had 40 percent of the ready-to-eat cereal market. In the 1980s Kellogg developed high-fiber cereals, such as Nutri-Grain and Mueslix, in response to a trend toward whole-grain foods.
In the 1980s and early 1990s sales flattened due to competition from General Mills, Inc., Post cereals ( now part of Philip Morris Companies Inc.), and low-cost cereals. Kellogg maintained profits by raising prices. In 1995 U.S. Representative Charles E. Schumer of New York alleged that Kellogg and other cereal companies had colluded to keep prices high. Philip Morris slashed its cereal prices and Kellogg followed, cutting the prices of 16 brands by an average of 19 percent. In 1996 Kellogg acquired Lender’s Bagels from Philip Morris subsidiary Kraft Foods, Inc. In 2001 Kellogg purchased the Keebler Food Company, a well-known cookie and cracker maker.