The Kel­log­gs

  • From the Publisher
May 16, 2017

From the much admired med­ical his­to­ri­an, author of An Anato­my of Addic­tion, the sto­ry of the two Kel­logg broth­ers: one who became Amer­i­ca’s most beloved physi­cian between the mid-nine­teenth cen­tu­ry and World War II, a best-sell­ing author, lec­tur­er and health mag­a­zine pub­lish­er who was read by mil­lions, and founder of the world-famous Bat­tle Creek San­i­tar­i­um in 1876; the oth­er, his younger broth­er, who found­ed in 1906 the Bat­tle Creek Toast­ed Corn Flake Company.

In The Kel­log­gs, Howard Markel tells the sweep­ing Amer­i­can saga of these two extra­or­di­nary men whose life­long com­pe­ti­tion with, and enmi­ty toward, each oth­er changed Amer­i­ca’s notion of health and well­ness, and who helped to alter the course of Amer­i­can med­i­cine as it emerged from the ash­es of super­sti­tion and quack­ery into our mod­ern era of heal­ing, cures, and prevention.

Dr. John Har­vey Kel­logg, inter­na­tion­al­ly known and revered, at the cen­ter of the most sig­nif­i­cant cen­tu­ry of med­i­cine for almost sev­en­ty years, cre­ator of the Bat­tle Creek San­i­tar­i­um that became the Per­cy Jones Hos­pi­tal; Amer­i­ca’s patron saint of the pur­suit of wellness …
His broth­er, Will, who, with John, exper­i­ment­ed with malt, wheat, and corn meal to make a prod­uct he called corn flakes, fol­lowed by puffed rice, shred­ded wheat, bran flakes, and toast­ed oat cereals.

Will saw the cere­als as a poten­tial gold mine after a for­mer patient of Kel­log­g’s Bat­tle Creek San­i­tar­i­um, C. W. Post, stole Kel­log­g’s recipes in 1895 (they were nev­er copy­right­ed; John saw them as his gift to human­i­ty) and opened his own food com­pa­ny in Bat­tle Creek. (C. W. Post’s Post Toasties — his ver­sion of corn flakes— his Grape Nuts, a wheat-based cere­al con­tain­ing nei­ther grapes nor nuts; and Pos­tum, a chico­ry-based cof­fee sub­sti­tute, were devoured by mil­lions.) The Post Cere­al Com­pa­ny even­tu­al­ly became Gen­er­al Foods.

Will found­ed his own cere­al com­pa­ny in 1906, the Bat­tle Creek Toast­ed Corn Flake Com­pa­ny, lat­er the Kel­logg Com­pa­ny, cre­at­ing a finan­cial boun­ty that result­ed in end­less law­suits between the brothers.

Markel writes of the Kel­log­gs’ ascent into the pan­theon of Amer­i­can indus­tri­al­ists by build­ing the Bat­tle Creek San­i­tar­i­um (it became a world famous med­ical cen­ter, spa, and grand hotel). Among the guests: Mary Todd Lin­coln, Amelia Earhart, John­ny Weiss­muller, Sarah Bern­hardt, George Bernard Shaw, and U.S. pres­i­dents from William Howard Taft to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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