Hello – Winnie Griggs here. I saw an interesting little segment on a Sunday morning program that discussed the history of the corn flake. It intrigued me so I decided to do a little follow-up research.
The cornflake was invented quite by accident. The Seventh Day Adventists were very health conscious as a group and one of their sponsored facilities was the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. Among the members of the staff their were the Kellogg brothers. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the Superintendent of the facility and Will Keith Kellogg was the Business Manager. Dr. Kellogg was part of a team there that was experimenting with a number of different grains to develop ways to incorporate them into the strict vegetarian regimen for the patients there. One of the products they developed was a type of granola that they created by forcing it through rollers and creating long sheets of dough.
The development of the corn flakes came about due to a combination of distracted focus and a need to pinch pennies. One day Dr. Kellogg let a container of cooked wheat sit too long while he and his brother were called to attend another pressing matter at the sanitarium. Upon their return, they discovered the wheat had gone stale. But since they were working with a tight budget Dr. Kellogg decided to process it anyway. When the product was forced through the roller process, however, they were surprised to see the wheat had flaked. Dr. Kellogg decided to toast these flakes and feed them to the patients and thus Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were born.
The flakes, which they initially called ‘granose’, proved to be quite popular with the patients. The accidental discovery took place in August of 1894 and the patent for the product was issued in 1896. It wouldn’t be until 1906, however, that Will Kellogg would try to mass produce the corn flakes.
His marketing plan included adding sugar to the flakes to make them more attractive to the general populace, a move that his brother completely disagreed with. This eventually caused a rift in the relationship between the brothers, but it proved to be a smart marketing move as the flakes became quite popular.
In an interesting footnote, Kellogg’s major rival, Post cereals, was started by C.W.Post who was a former patient of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
Today most everyone in the US has had corn flakes at one
time or another and dozens of variations have been developed. And it all started from one little accident.