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.