What was the idea behind breakfast flakes

How the Kelloggs brothers invented cornflakes

The invention of corn flakes? An accident! In fact, dried scraps of dough gave the brothers John Harvey and Will Keith Kellogg the idea of ​​making breakfast cereal. But the chance invention sparked a bitter argument ...

Do you happen to read this story over breakfast? And are you crunching a few cornflakes? Then you will be amazed when we tell you that they were invented more than 100 years ago - in a hospital! And that a bitter quarrel broke out over the cereal, a quarrel between two brothers that soon turned into treason. Put a spoon in your mouth - you can need some strengthening for this crazy story ...

Cornflakes were invented in the hospital over 100 years ago

It begins in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1876, the doctor John Harvey Kellogg made a name for himself where the Kellogg Company's headquarters are still located today. In the "Battle Creek Sanitarium" he treated patients who suffered from stress and hectic in the growing US cities. And who also often ate unhealthily. Many ate sausages and bacon morning after morning. Everything together paralyzed their intestines: they tormented themselves with all kinds of digestive problems.

And John Harvey Kellogg? Treated the women and men with electric shocks and ice baths. He let those who are grumpy about exercise come to morning exercise at dawn. In addition, he preached, himself a staunch vegetarian and devout Christian, to renounce meat, sugar, alcohol and tobacco. The doctor even demonized salt, pepper and vinegar. Instead, he served porridges and breads made from grains and nuts. Tastefully bland - and yet John Harvey Kellogg was quickly considered the star doctor of his time. Patients made pilgrimages to Battle Creek from all corners of the country.

John Harvey and Will Keith Kellogg: Two Brothers, One Invention

There was only one thing John Harvey Kellogg was not: a good businessman. Writing invoices, bookkeeping, mail - he preferred to leave these tasks to his eight years younger brother Will Keith. He had previously been a brush dealer. And failed. From then on, he wanted to take off in Battle Creek. For this he toiled, sometimes 80, sometimes even 120 hours a week for a wage of barely three dollars a day(around 76.50 euros based on today's purchasing power). "I'm afraid I'll always be a poor man," he wrote in his diary at the time.

But one morning in 1894 everything turned out differently: by chance the brothers discovered a piece of dough left over from the day before in a bowl. When they pressed the dried mass, it did not hold together as flat cakes, but crumbled between their fingers. John and Will had an idea: They baked the crumbs into crispy flakes and served them to the patients - who actually crunched the new breakfast. And so the so-called Granose of the Kellogg brothers was soon literally on everyone's lips and attracted the first imitators to Battle Creek. Within a few years the city of 30,000 had several hundred breakfast cereal producers.

The cornflakes inventors disagree: expand the business or not?

Will quickly realized what a huge deal the Kelloggs could lose. He really wanted to expand the company! But John remained stubborn: "We should be satisfied with the small company," he kept repeating. Why should he risk his reputation as a doctor?

But Will didn't let the flakes rest. Whenever John was away he would sneak into the kitchen and fine-tune the recipe. He replaced the wheat with corn and added a pinch of salt. But his cornflakes only got really tasty when he added sugar. That ingredient that John had banned from the clinic kitchen ...

The brothers go their separate ways - and Kelloggs becomes a global success

When John found out about it, he was beside himself. His brother had betrayed him and his work! Shortly afterwards they went their separate ways. John kept serving granose - Will started his own company that grew more successful month by month. Soon, on tables across the country, sweet cornflakes were rustling in the breakfast bowls.

And when the brothers met again in court in 1917, where it should be decided who was allowed to sell which flakes under the name Kellogg, Will won the bid.

He did not remain a poor man, as he had once noted in his diary. On the contrary! He soon made a fortune with the Kellogg Company. He developed new products and expanded his company.

Today, Kellogg’s has a turnover of almost twelve billion euros a year. In more than 180 countries, people eat cornflakes and the like for breakfast. In fact, however, the company has been relying on a new, old recipe for success in recent years: it offers cornflakes with less sugar. It is true that the brothers never reconciled. But maybe John Harvey Kellogg would have been happy about that too.

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