John Harvey Kellogg
– December 14
) was an American medical doctor
in Battle Creek, Michigan
, who ran a sanitarium
methods, with a particular focus on nutrition
, and exercise
. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism
and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal
with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg
Kellogg was born in Tyrone, Michigan
, to John Preston Kellogg (1806–1881) and Ann Janette Stanley (1824–1893). John lived with two sisters during childhood. By 1860, the family had moved to Battle Creek, Michigan
, where his father established a broom
factory. John later worked as a printer's devil
in a Battle Creek publishing house.
Kellogg attended the Battle Creek public schools, then attended the Michigan State Normal School (since 1959, Eastern Michigan University), and finally, New York University Medical College at Bellevue Hospital. He graduated in 1875 with a medical degree. He married Ella Ervilla Eaton (1853–1920) of Alfred Center, New York, on February 22, 1879. They did not have any children of their own, but raised over forty children, legally adopting seven of them, before Ella died in 1920. The adopted children include: Agnes Grace Kellogg, Elizabeth Kellogg, John William Kellogg, Ivaline Maud Kellogg, Paul Alfred Kellogg, Robert Moffatt Kellogg, and Newell Carey Kellogg. Kellogg died in 1943 and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek.
Battle Creek Sanitarium
Kellogg was a Seventh-day Adventist
until mid-life and gained fame while operating the Battle Creek Sanitarium
, which he ran on the church's health principles. Adventists believe in a vegetarian diet, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, and a regimen of exercise, which Kellogg followed, among other things. He is remembered as an advocate of vegetarianism, and wrote in favor of it, including after leaving the Adventists. His dietary advice in the late 19th century, which was in part concerned with reducing sexual stimulation, discouraged meat-eating, but not emphatically so.
Kellogg was an especially strong proponent of nuts, which he believed would save mankind in the face of decreasing food supply. Though mainly renowned nowadays for his development of corn flakes, Kellogg also patented a process for making peanut butter and invented healthful "granose biscuits."
At the Battle Creek Sanitarium, Kellogg held classes on food preparation for homemakers. Sanitarium visitors engaged in breathing exercises and mealtime marches to promote proper digestion of food throughout the day. Because Kellogg was a staunch supporter of phototherapy, the sanitarium also made use of artificial sunbaths.
Kellogg made sure that the bowel of each and every patient was plied with water, from above and below. His favorite device was an enema machine that could rapidly instill several gallons of water in a series of enemas. Every water enema was followed by a pint of yogurt — half was eaten, the other half was administered by enema “thus planting the protective germs where they are most needed and may render most effective service." The yogurt served to replace the intestinal flora of the bowel, creating what Kellogg claimed was a squeaky-clean intestine.
Kellogg believed that most disease is alleviated by a change in intestinal flora; that bacteria in the intestines can either help or hinder the body; that pathogenic bacteria produce toxins during the digestion of protein that poison the blood; that poor diet favors harmful bacteria that can then infect other tissues in the body; that the intestinal flora is changed by diet, and is generally changed for the better by a well-balanced vegetarian diet favoring low-protein, laxative and high-fiber foods; and that this natural change in flora could be sped by enemas seeded with favorable bacteria, or by various regimens of specific foods designed to heal specific ailments.
Kellogg was a skilled surgeon, who often donated his services to indigent patients at his clinic. Although against any unnecessary use of surgery to cure diseases, he did advocate circumcision.
Disagreements with Adventist leaders
In the early 1900s, Kellogg published The Living Temple, a book whose sale was intended to raise funds for the sanitarium. Several Adventist leaders, including A.G. Daniells and Ellen G. White, concluded that the book was pantheistic in its portrayal of the nature and work of the Holy Spirit. The theological disagreement led to a break, and in 1907, Kellogg took himself and the sanitarium out of the denomination.
With his brother, Will Keith Kellogg
, they started the Sanitas Food Company to produce their whole grain
cereals around 1897, a time when the standard breakfast for the wealthy was eggs and meat, while the poor ate porridge
, and other boiled grains. John and Will later argued over the recipe for the cereals (Will wanted to add sugar to the flakes), so in 1906 Will started his own company, the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which eventually became the Kellogg Company
, triggering a decades-long feud. John then formed the Battle Creek Food Company to develop and market soy products.
(John did not invent the concept of the dry breakfast cereal. That honor belongs to Dr. James Caleb Jackson who created the first dry breakfast cereal in 1863, which he called Granula. A patient of John's, Charles William Post, would eventually start his own dry cereal company selling a rival brand of corn flakes.) Dr. Kellogg later would claim that Charles Post stole the formula for corn flakes from his safe in the Sanitarium office. Also, a large portion of the common stock of the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company was given to the Race Betterment Foundation by Dr. Kellogg. Whether any of that stock has been converted into Kellogg Company stock is unknown. [See Investigation of Race Betterment Foundation by the Attorney General of Michigan; also see, Ruth C. Engs, Progressive Era's Health Reform, 2003, Greenwood Pub. Co., Race Betterment National Conferences, p. 276].
Anti-sex and Anti-masturbation positions
Kellogg, an advocate of sexual abstinence, devoted large amounts of his educational and medical work to discouraging sexual activity, on the basis of dangers both real - as in sexually transmissible diseases
- and purported. He outlined his views on the subject in his book, initially titled Plain Facts about Sexual Life
. Kellogg's book was published in various editions in the late 19th Century, later retitled to Plain Facts for Old and Young
. Some of his work on diet was influenced by his belief that a plain and healthy diet, with only two meals a day, among other things, would reduce sexual feelings. Those experiencing temptation were to avoid stimulating food and drinks, and eat very little meat, if any. Kellogg also advocated hydrotherapy and stressed the importance of keeping the colon clean through yogurt enemas.
"Warfare with passion"
He warned that many types of sexual activity, including many “excesses” that couples could be guilty of within marriage, were against nature, and therefore, extremely unhealthy. He drew on the warnings of William Acton
and expressed support for the work of Anthony Comstock
. He appears to have gone beyond his own advice, since though he and his wife were married for over forty years, they never had sexual intercourse and had separate bedrooms all their lives. It has been suggested he worked on Plain Facts
on their honeymoon.
He was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation; this was an orthodox view during his lifetime, especially the earlier part. Kellogg was able to draw upon many medical sources who made claims such as that "neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism," credited to one Dr. Alan Clarke. Kellogg strongly warned against the habit in his own words, claiming of masturbation-related deaths "such a victim literally dies by his own hand," among other condemnations. He felt that masturbation destroyed not only physical and mental health, but
the moral health of individuals as well. Kellogg also believed the practice of "solitary-vice" caused cancer of the womb, urinary diseases, nocturnal emissions, impotence, epilepsy, insanity, and mental and physical debility. Kellogg was the first to mention the psychological role in producing insanity. Most of the degeneration supposedly induced was mental, and blindness was seldom if ever mentioned.
Kellogg worked on the rehabilitation of masturbators, often employing extreme measures, even mutilation, on both sexes. In his Plain Facts for Old and Young
, he wrote
A remedy for masturbation which is almost always successful in small boys is circumcision, especially when there is any degree of phimosis. The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases.
In females, the author has found the application of pure carbolic acid [phenol] to the clitoris an excellent means of allaying the abnormal excitement.
He also recommended, to prevent children from this "solitary vice", bandaging or tying their hands, covering their genitals with patented cages, sewing the foreskin shut, and electrical shock.
Kellogg would live for over sixty years after writing Plain Facts
. Whether he continued to teach the “facts” in it is not entirely clear, although it appears from the later books he wrote that he moved away from this subject matter. One source, taking a positive view of his nutritional and anti-smoking work, suggests he “dropped his obsession with the evils of sex” around 1920, but another, highly critical source maintains he “never retracted his claims”. He did continue to work on healthy eating advice and run the sanitarium, although this was hit by the Great Depression
and had to be sold. He ran another institute in Florida, which was popular throughout the rest of his life, although it was a distinct step down from his Battle Creek institute.
Race Betterment Foundation
Kellogg was outspoken on his beliefs on race and segregation, in spite of the fact that he himself adopted a number of black children. In 1906, Kellogg founded—together with Irving Fisher
and Charles Davenport
—the Race Betterment Foundation, which became a major center of the new eugenics
movement in America. Kellogg was in favor of racial segregation and believed that immigrants and non-whites would damage the gene pool.
Relationship with William K. Kellogg
Kellogg had a long personal and business split with his brother after fighting in court for the rights to cereal recipes. The Foundation for Economic Education
records that the nonagenarian J.H.K. prepared a letter seeking to reopen the relationship, but that his secretary decided her employer had demeaned himself in it, and refused to send it. William K. Kellogg did not see it until after his brother’s death.
- Kellogg, John Harvey (1877). Plain Facts for Old and Young.
- Kellogg, John Harvey (1888). Treatment for Self-Abuse and Its Effects.
- 1893 Ladies Guide in Health and Disease
- 1903 Rational Hydrotherapy
- 1910 Light Therapeutics
- 1914 Needed -- A New Human Race Official Proceedings: Vol. I, Proceedings of the First National Conference on Race Betterment. Battle Creek, MI: Race Betterment Foundation, 431-450.
- 1915 "Health and Efficiency" Macmillan M. V. O'Shea and J. H. Kellogg (The Health Series of Physiology and Hygiene
- 1915 The Eugenics Registry Official Proceedings: Vol II, Proceedings of the Second National Conference on Race Betterment. Battle Creek, MI: Race Betterment Foundation.
- 1922 Autointoxication or Intestinal Toxemia
- 1923 Tobaccoism or How Tobacco Kills
- 1927 New Dietetics: A Guide to Scientific Feeding in Health and Disease
- 1929 Art of Massage: A Practical Manual for the Nurse, the Student and the Practitioner
- Schwarz, Richard W. John Harvey Kellogg: Pioneering Health Reformer. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 2006