Today marks the 147th anniversary of the birth of Will Keith Kellogg, the inventor of Kellogg's Corn Flakes and founder of what would become the W K Kellog company, the giant of breakfast foods.
Kellog was born in Battle Creek, Michigan on April 7, 1860. Before he died, 91 years later, Kellogg changed what people viewed as "breakfast food" to include corn flakes and the sugar-frosted version, sold by a lovable tiger.
As a young businessman Kellogg started out selling brooms, before moving to Battle Creek, Michigan to help his brother John Harvey Kellogg run the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Together they pioneered the process of making flaked cereal. Because of the commercial potential of the discovery, Will wanted it kept a secret. John, however, allowed anyone in the sanitarium to observe the flaking process and one sanitarium guest, C. W. Post, copied the process to start his own company. The company became Post Cereals and later General Foods, the source of Post's first million dollars. This upset Kellogg to the extent that he left the sanitarium to create his own company.
Though he invented the corn flaking process (with his brother, John Harvey Kellogg), his two biggest contributions were changing the public's perception about what to eat for breakfast and the use of advertising to promote his cereal products.
At one time, Kellogg's had the World's Largest Billboard: 106 feet wide and 50 feet high.
W. K. Kellogg helped discover the process that gave the world flaked cereal, leading to a revolution in breakfast foods. His true genius, however, may have been as a marketer, not an inventor. By the time Kellogg launched his own company to sell toasted corn flakes, more than forty other companies were producing cold cereals. What helped set Kellogg's flakes apart was advertising, as Kellogg used every method possible to sell his "original" corn flake.
"Mr. Kellogg appreciated the power of the new force that was beginning to be used by progressive businessmen—the force of consumer advertising. Visualizing his foods on breakfast tables in millions of homes, he knew that the entrée to these homes was chiefly through advertising."
—Horace B. Powell, biographer of W. K. Kellogg
Kellogg Corn Flakes print ad from 1949.
Kellogg's cereal products, besides Kellogg's Corn Flakes, include: Sugar Frosted Flakes, Special K, Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, Fruit Loops, All-Bran, Apple Jacks, Frosted Mini-Wheats, Kellogg's Raisin Bran and more.
So, next time you sit down to breakfast, raise high your spoonful of Frosted Mini-Wheats and salute the founder of tasty breakfast grains for the masses: W.K. Kellogg.
He was G-g-r-r-r-reat!
* W.K. Kellogg: Corn Flake Inventor Born 147 Years Ago Today
* Will Keith Kellogg
* W K Kellogg
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