Dr. John Harvey Kellogg
, born 26 Feb 1852, died 14 Dec 1943, was a pioneer in what we now call the natural
or whole foods
movement. He trained at Bellevue Hospital Medical College
and at the young age of 24 took over the operation of the Battle Creek (Michigan) Sanitarium
, founded by the Seventh-Day Adventist
s. He eventually bought out the church and ran "the San
" as a fiefdom
. It was a resort
, and laboratory
. He ran the San until his death at the advanced age of 91 -- a testimony to his methods.
Although Kellogg employed many techniques no longer accepted in medicine -- hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, mechanotherapy, and the inhalation of radium emissions, among others -- he is remembered today for his concentration on the gastrointestinal tract. For Kellogg, proper diet was essential, and he gave enormous attention to the bowels as well, prescribing daily enemas of water and yoghurt for his patients. He was a strict vegetarian and often lectured on the evils of meat. Naturally, he permitted neither tobacco nor alcohol at the San.
His interest in diet, particularly roughage, led him to develop with his brother, Will, the ready-to-eat breakfast cereal now known as Corn Flakes. Will added sugar to the recipe, and eventually formed Kellogg's, his own company, to manufacture and market it. This so annoyed Kellogg that he (unsuccessfully, of course) sued his brother to stop him from using his name.
Kellogg also invented peanut butter and developed Granola -- not to be confused with Dr. James C. Jackson's "Granula". He dressed exclusively in white, and was famous for his fiery temper:
"Is God a man with two arms and legs like me?" (Kellogg) demanded (of an annoyingly pious Seventh-Day Adventist): "Does He have eyes, a head? Does He have bowels?"
"No," the Adventist answered, deeply offended.
"Well I do," cried Kellogg," and that makes me more wonderful than He is!"
--Josh Clark, quoted in "Great American Quacks"
Kellogg also prescribed vigorous exercise
and believed that laughter healed
. He was so strictly against sex
of any kind that it is said he never made love to his own wife, Ella Ervilla (nee Eaton). He adopted perhaps 42 children. His puritanical stance on sex gave rise to the legend
that he invented corn flakes in order to stop young boys from masturbating on the toilet.
Kellogg and the San were satirized in the extremely funny book and film The Road to Wellville. Although the fiction does not do justice to Dr. Kellogg, it paints a vivid portrait of the bedlam that was turn-of-the-century Battle Creek, as every quack and would-be breakfast food king tried to leap on the bandwagon.
Although today we rarely hear of Kellogg's "biologic living" or the evils of "auto-intoxication", many of his ideas have become firmly rooted in modern medicine, a century after he advanced them. And, of course, breakfast cereal has become a staple food.