With its headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan, the Kellogg's Company is the world's largest manufacturer of packaged, ready-to-eat breakfast cereals and related snack products. Many of the company's products, like Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, and Rice Krispies, have become familiar breakfast foods around the globe. In 2001, the company reported more than $6 billion in sales worldwide.
Kellogg's evolved from the religiously based "health industry" of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The company can trace its roots to the work of two brothers, John Harvey Kellogg (1852–1943) and Will Keith Kellogg (1860–1951). Both men were Seventh Day Adventists, although both men were expelled from the church for worldliness and heresy in 1907. Seventh Day Adventists have traditionally adhered to high nutritional standards, and the Kellogg brothers were active in helping that denomination develop its early programs. John Harvey was medical superintendent of the Adventist Battle Creek Sanitarium, where he promoted a vegetarian diet, hydrotherapy (water therapy), and abstinence from alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco. He also served as editor of the church's monthly publication, Good Health.
In 1894, the Kellogg brothers invented flaked cereals, which they marketed as an easily digestible food product. In 1906, Will founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company to sell sweetened versions of these products as cereals, not just as health foods. By 1909, the brothers had become bitter rivals, and Will won the right to use the Kellogg's name as a trademark in 1920, after which he established the company as it is known today.
By the second half of the twentieth century, Kellogg's was arguably the nation's most recognized cereal brand, with some thirty-five different products, ranging from All-Bran to Strawberry Mini-Wheats. It also manufactures Pop-Tarts and Nutri-Grain snack products. Many of the cartoon characters it developed to promote its various brands have become familiar icons, most notably Tony the Tiger (and his familiar slogan, "They're gr-r-reat!") from Frosted Flakes, and the Snap!, Crackle!, and Pop! gnomes from Rice Krispies. Kellogg's and other cereal manufacturers are often criticized by nutritionists and educators. Nutritionists disapprove of the high sugar content of their products, and educators protest how cereals are aggressively marketed to children, especially on Saturday-morning television (see entry under 1960s—TV and Radio in volume 4).
For More Information
Hunnicutt, Benjamin Kline. Kellogg's Six-Hour Day. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1996.
Kellogg's Company. http://www.kelloggs.com (accessed January 2, 2002).
Lindsay, David. House of Invention: The Secret Life of Everyday Products. New York: Lyons Press, 2000.
Money, John. The Destroying Angel: Sex, Fitness & Food in the Legacy of Degeneracy Theory, Graham Crackers, Kellogg's Corn Flakes & American Health History. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1985.