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Fascinating facts about Will Keith Kellogg inventor of Kellogg's Corn Flakes® in 1894.

Will Keith Kellogg
Will Keith Kellogg along with his brother John Harvey Kellogg, developed and promoted eating cereal as healthy breakfast food, especially corn flakes. In 1906 he founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company which later became the Kellogg Company. In 1930 Kellogg established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation.
Inventor: Will Keith Kellogg
Will Keith Kellogg photo courtesy W K Kellogg Foundation
Criteria; First to invent. First practical. Entrepreneur.
Birth: April 7, 1860 in Battle Creek, Michigan
Death: October 6, 1951 in Battle Creek, Michigan
Nationality: American
Invention: Kellogg's Corn Flakes®
Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal box courtesy Kellogg Company
Function: noun / breakfast cereal
Definition: A crisp, flaky, commercially prepared cold cereal made from coarse cornmeal. To be used as a breakfast food.
Trademark: #73586717 (US) first used in commerce 12/22/1925
1860 Born in Battle Creek, Michigan
1894 Invented cereal flakes as a  healthy food
1990 started mail-order business called the Sanitas Food Company
1906 founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Co., the world’s first ready-to-eat cereal co.
1930 founded the W. K. Kellogg Foundation
1951 Died in Battle Creek, Michigan
CAPS: Kellogg, Kellogg's, Will Keith Kellogg, John Harvey Kellogg, Battle Creek Michigan, Sanitas Food Company, Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Co., Kellogg Company, ARY, invention, cereal, corn flakes, Kellogg's' corn flakes, cornflakes, SIP, history, biography, inventor.
The Story:
Will Keith Kellogg, creator of the cereal company and the foundation that bears his name, led three professional "lives" while making his mark on Battle Creek, Michigan and the world. Born April 7, 1860, Will Keith Kellogg lacked a formal education beyond the sixth grade. When he died Oct. 6, 1951, at the age of 91, he had amassed a fortune and enriched the lives of people in his hometown, and millions of people around the world.

The world-renowned benefactor and cereal industry leader began as a clerk at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, also known as the San. It was there, searching for a vegetarian diet for patients, that he discovered cereal flakes. His first job was as a stock-boy, followed by the life of a traveling broom salesman in his late teens. He finally went to work as a young man in the San, where his older brother, John Harvey Kellogg, was physician-in-chief. Will Kellogg was bookkeeper and manager of the world-famous hospital, which put virtually any task outside of medicine under his purview.

For years he assisted his brother in research aimed at improving the vegetarian diet of the San's patients, especially the search for a digestible bread-substitute by the process of boiling wheat. They never achieved their basic purpose, but stumbled on a major dividend. In 1894, Will Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and become tempered. When it was put through the usual rolling process, each grain of wheat emerged as a large, thin flake. Will persuaded his brother to serve the food in flake form, and it was an immediate favorite among the patients.

Soon it was being packaged to meet hundreds of mail order requests from persons after they left the San. Because John Kellogg had little interest in such matters, his brother added another task to his long list of responsibilities: that of managing the burgeoning packaged food enterprise. Using his sense of economics, an understanding of marketing techniques and hard work Kellogg constantly increased production, advertising budgets and sales. He expanded his business to Australia in 1924, guided the cereal company through the Depression (he increased advertising while others cut back), and brought Kellogg's cereal into England in 1938.

W. K.. Kellogg, who at 46 founded the Kellogg Company, was never comfortable with his riches. In the 1920s, when many captains of industry were building castle-sized summer "cottages" with 40-car garages, Kellogg lived a comparatively modest life. Even as a millionaire, he resided for years in a two-story stucco house on 256 West Van Buren Street in Battle Creek Michigan.

As a father, he feared the pitfalls of unearned wealth. None of his children would ever become rich through inherited money. Explaining his tight rein on the family purse, Kellogg once wrote, "I want that my sons develop into conscientious and truthful men." As his wealth grew, Kellogg gave generously to charitable causes, many involving children. By establishing the Kellogg Foundation, W.K. Kellogg sought to focus his philanthropy. In 1934, W.K. Kellogg donated more than $66 million in Kellogg Company stock and other investments to establish the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Kellogg was fiercely competitive, but also quiet, reserved, somber—an introvert. Still, over the years, his support of charitable causes was enormous and varied. He became convinced that the most good could be accomplished by helping young people. So in 1925, he established the Fellowship Corporation. The Fellowship Corporation helped to build an agricultural school and a bird sanctuary, and to establish an experimental farm and a reforestation project. Kellogg also donated nearly $3 million to hometown causes, such as the Ann J. Kellogg School for handicapped children, a civic auditorium, a junior high school, and a youth recreation center.

President Herbert Hoover named him a delegate at a White House Conference on Child Health and Protection. He returned from the conference determined to help. As a result, in June 1930, the W.K. Kellogg Child Welfare Foundation was born. A few months later, he broadened the focus of the charter, and renamed it the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Through his philanthropic work, Mr. Kellogg demonstrated great compassion and caring and acted on his belief that the most good came from helping people to help themselves--giving them the opportunity to do what is important to them. Kellogg worked at the Foundation until just before his death. His grave in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek is marked by a simple monument of stone. But his legacy lives on. 


The Entrepreneur    from The Great Idea Finder
The Philanthropist   from The Great Idea Finder
Kellogg's Corn Flakes    from The Great Idea Finder
History of Snacks and Food    from The Great Idea Finder

Kellogg's Six-Hour Day (Labor and Social Change)
by Benjamin Kline Hunnicutt / Paperback (November 1996) / Temple Univ Press

In 1930, W. K. Kellogg, the famed breakfast cereal magnate from Battle Creek, Michigan, established a six-hour workday for his laborers. In the depths of the Depression, this policy provided more labor for more workers, and the experiment continued until the mid-1980s.

Kellogg's (Vgm's Business Portraits Series)
by William Gould / Hardcover - 48 pages (September 1997) / McGraw Hill - NTC
Introduces basic business concepts and explains what makes an enterprise successful by telling the history of the Kellogg Company and the story of its founder

Accidents May Happen: 50 Inventions Discovered by Mistake
by Charlotte Foltz Jones, John O'Brien (Illustrator) / Hardcover - 86 pages (1996) / Delacorte
Fifty inventions discovered by mistake receive entertaining cartoon embellishment but are actually serious subjects which will delight and entertain kids.

The Kellogg Brothers
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / Biography Channel / Less than $25.00 / Also VHS
One was an eccentric crusader for health. The other was a sober businessman who turned their humble invention the corn flake into the cornerstone of one of the most successful companies in the nation. John Henry Kellogg and his little brother Will Keith played out one of the most dramatic and bitter family feuds in American history, but for twenty years before their split they were partners.


W. K. Kellogg Biography
Adapted from an article prepared by the Kellogg Foundation for the Battle Creek Enquirer, on the dedication of the Kellogg Foundation International Headquarters in 1992.
W. K. Kellogg Foundation
In 1934, W.K. Kellogg donated more than $66 million in Kellogg Company stock and other investments to establish the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
Marketing Corn Flakes
Cornelius has been closely associated with Corn Flakes and appeared in commercials from time to time since 1958.
Invention Dimension - Inventor of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

Michigan Historical Marker: WK Kellogg / Kellogg Company
W. K. Kellogg. At the age of fourteen, Will Keith Kellogg (1860 - 1951) began working
as a salesman for his father's broom business.
A Grandson Remembers
Keith Kellogg remembers his grandfather as a stern man with firm notions about childrearing, a man who valued the rare commodity of common sense and passed his values on to his descendants.
CerealCity USA
Kellogg's Cereal City USA™  is a themed family attraction celebrating the cereal industry  in an educational, historical and, most importantly, entertaining manner. As a guest you can even purchase your very own Kellogg’s Corn Flakes® box with your picture on it. Say cheese!
W K Kellogg Ranch
In 1925 breakfast food millionaire W. K. Kellogg purchased 377 acres for $250,000 in Pomona as the site of his Arabian Horse Ranch. Mr. Kellogg acquired only the best of stock, many head coming from Lady Wentworth's historic Crabbet Stud in England.


  • To avoid confusion with his competitors products, W K Kellogg had his name and signature scripted on each package of Kellogg’s® Corn Flakes along with the explanation " The original has this signature"
Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised June 30, 2006.

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