John Harvey Kellogg And His Anti-Masturbation Cereals

The controversial life of America’s cereal king

A Renaissance Writer


John Harvey Kellogg

John Harvey Kellogg was born February 26th, 1852, in Tyrone Michigan. To say that he was a complicated man doesn’t quite do him, or the controversy surrounding him, justice. While we might imagine him as a devoted industrialist praying at the altar of 19th capitalism, he was, in fact, a deeply flawed, troubled and religious man, riddled with enigmas.

J.H Kellogg

To understand J.H Kellogg’s beliefs about the world he found himself in, it helps to look at his personal beliefs. A vocal member of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, after gaining his medical degree the now Dr Kellogg would go on to lead the Battle Creek Sanatorium in Michigan, which was owned and operated by The Seventh Day Adventist Church.

The Church stands outside many mainstream Christian viewpoints, focusing much of its attention on the Second Coming, as well as promoting healthy eating and vegetarianism, and encouraging members to be chaste, to abstain from alcohol or smoking and, critically for Kellogg, from masturbation.

It may seem an odd thing for a church to fixate on, but they were by no means the first and generations of theologians had debated the issue before them. Kellogg was distinctly on the anti-masturbation side of the argument.

Through his support from the Church and position as director of the Battle Creek Sanatorium, he was able to implement a great deal of church policy into his treatment of patients. Even after he left the Church during the middle of his life, due to disagreements over books he’d written, he would continue to promote church doctrine through the institution.

Inventing Corn Flakes

Classic Kellogg’s advertisement

The origins of cornflakes are, murky to put it best. The traditional story goes that Kellogg left wheat-berry dough on his counter one night and rather than throw it out, he rolled it out and was pleased with the resulting delicate ‘cornflakes’ that came out of his oven.



A Renaissance Writer

I love all things Italian Renaissance, cooking and writing. I can often be found reading, drinking espresso and working on too many things at once