How Breakfast Cereal Got Its Start as a Cure for Sin and Sickness


In a recent video exploring the assertion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, Vox relates the story of how brothers John Harvey and Will Keith Kellogg developed Corn Flakes while still working at their original family business – the Battle Creek Sanitarium.

Yes, while the name Kellogg might be better known today for their various breakfast brands including Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Pop Tarts, the founders of the company got their start developing medical treatments for their residents. Their therapies typically included fresh air, sexual abstinence and dietary restrictions.

John Harvey Kellogg, a medical doctor, developed Corn Flakes as a simple grain-based food that would have “nutritive and therapeutic properties.” Being a devoutly religious man, Kellogg also believed that sin and sickness were linked, and that the cereal would promote heath by developing one’s moral fortitude.

In 1906, John Harvey’s brother Will Keith began to mass-market the cereal to the world, as the cereal began to take off, a medical journal edited by John Harvey promoted the cereal as part of a healthy breakfast, which he deemed “the most important meal of the day”.

As self-serving as that might seem, things aren’t much different today. Many of the current studies proclaiming the importance of a regular breakfast today continue to be funded by Kelloggs and other major breakfast brands.

To learn more about how breakfast became known as the “most important meal of the day,” watch the full video below.


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