John Harvey Kellogg: More Than Cereal

John Harvey Kellogg: More Than Cereal

Megan Woodworth

Hearing the name Kellogg typically evokes thoughts about Tony the Tiger and Frosted Flakes, while both John Harvey and William Keith accidentally stumbled upon the first cereal product for Kellogg Cereal, J. H. Kellogg is known for much more. Dr. J. H. Kellogg was a well established physician and a health food pioneer. Kellogg became superintendent of the Seventh Day Adventist Western Health Reform Institute in 1867, which later became the infamous Battle Creek Sanitarium. Dr. J. H. Kellogg believed the body should be regarded as a temple and took a particular interest in the effects of tobacco on the human body.

Dr. J. H. Kellogg discusses the importance of feeding our bodies proper nutrients and how they will benefit us directly and in the future. Dr. J. H. Kellogg studied adequately the discipline of food chemistry, discovering the importance of dextrinizing the starch in foods before digesting them. In Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s book, The Living Temple (1903) he says, “Toasted Wheat Flakes, Granose, and Corn Flakes are cereal preparations in which the grain is first thoroughly cooked, then partially dried and compressed into thin flakes, which are afterward baked until slightly brown, by which process they are thoroughly dextrinized and prepared for prompt digestion and assimilation.” (Kellogg 1903). Using these cereal methods prolonged the baking process and broke down the starch which cereal grains are high in. The dextrinization process was used to make Granola, Granose, Browned Rice, Crystal Wheat, Protose, and Malted Nuts which were all products of the Battle Creek Sanitarium Health Food Company. The continued production and consumption of these products and similar products around the world show the impact of Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s discoveries concerning food and substance consumption. Another of Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s greatest interests and investments was his investment in the effects tobacco products had on the human body. One of Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s biggest arguments against tobacco was that of the stigma that smoking destroyed the nicotine and its effects. In Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s book, Tobaccoism or How Tobacco Kills, he discusses that “It thus appears that tobacco smoke contains not less than nineteen poisons, every one of which is capable of producing deadly effects. Several of these, nicotine, prussic acid, carbon monoxide and pyridine are deadly in very small doses so that the smoker cannot possibly escape their toxic effects.” (Kellogg 1922, 18-19). Dr. J. H. Kellogg not only attacked the use of tobacco because of its effects on the physical body but also the effect it has on your emotional and mental state. He also contributed to the anti-tobacco movement that led to regulations of tobacco.

While most people are familiar with the Kellogg name because of the economic weight it pulls in the breakfast food industry, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was a big advocate for human health and vocal about how he felt about topics surrounding it. Dr. J. H. Kellogg found a way to produce products and reduce the amount of starch found in them and he also was a vigorous advocate against the use of tobacco. Dr. J. H. Kellogg’s discoveries concerning food and substance consumption continues to impact the breakfast food industry and the economy of Cereal City. The legacy of John Harvey and his brother will continue to radiate for generations to come. Growing up in the city of Battle Creek it was tradition to either tour the cereal factories or in later years tour Cereal City U.S.A. Being a resident in the city it is hard to forget the legacy of the Kellogg family when the aroma of cereal fills the air on any given day.

Primary Sources:

John Harvey Kellogg,The Living Temple (1903)

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This source discusses John Harvey Kellogg’s regard for the human body and how certain foods and substances can affect our immediate and future health. This source also discusses the process used to produce certain foods in a way to generate better health benefits.

Tobaccoism or How Tobacco Kills (1922)

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This book discusses John Harvey Kellogg’s stance on the use of tobacco. He discusses not only the effects on physical health but that of mental and emotional health. This sources his strong feelings and reasoning to backing the anti tobacco movement.

Secondary Sources:

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. John Harvey Kellogg, MD: Health Reformer and Antismoking Crusader: v. 96(2). June 2002. (Available online: )

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