Many of us start the day with a bowl of Corn Flakes, which, as we know are best eaten with “ice cold milk.”
The simplicity of the cereal is its big selling point, as we look to move away from sugar-laden breakfasts.
However, what many people might not know is that their favorite cereal has an interesting past based on some rather curious religious beliefs.
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“Curbing sexual desires”
One of the founders of the company was John Harvey Kellogg, a physician who was seen as being ahead of his time in terms of his understanding of nutrition.
But he was also a devout Seventh-day Adventist, who believed eating rich food would increase a person’s sexual desire, which he saw as damaging to the mind.
His beliefs were so strong he slept in a separate room to his wife and never consummated the marriage, which led to the couple adopting all their children.
Kellogg believed the best way to stop the craven desires of Americans was to ensure they were fed a bland, boring diet, which would enable them to focus on higher matters.
And that’s how Corn Flakes were created.
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A marketing success
Will Kellogg was the one to spot an opportunity as a result of his brother’s bizarre beliefs.
He spotted that if you added a bit of sugar to the humble flakes and put some money into advertising them, they became an endlessly popular breakfast cereal.
The sad thing was that the brothers had a troubled relationship, with John viewing his younger brother as “dim-witted.”
However, it was Will Kellogg who started the company we know today, and showed the business acumen to recruit talented marketers to promote it.
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John Kellogg attempted to set up his own cereal company, also bearing the Kellogg name.
This led to a bitter row, which eventually ended up in Michigan Supreme Court.
Will Kellogg’s promotional skills paid off as he won the case, with the judge saying:
“Look at all these ads – millions and millions of dollars of ads.”
“Millions of Americans read these ads or hear about it on the radio. And when you hear the name Kellogg, you think of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.”
More of the story is told in Howard Markel’s book “The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek“.
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