The Strange History of Corn Flakes

Original post from Daily Kos

‘…………..By Lenny Flank

Corn flakes cereal is a staple on breakfast tables all over the world. Today it is marketed as a healthy part of a balanced breakfast. But corn flakes were originally invented by a fanatically religious doctor as a way to stop people from masturbating.

The country's most popular anti-sex food.
The country’s most popular anti-sex food.

In 1894, two brothers, Dr John Harvey Kellogg and Will Keith “WK” Kellogg, were running a sanitarium and health spa in the town of Battle Creek, Michigan. John was the Superintendent, and WK was the bookkeeper. Among the treatments offered at the sanitarium/hospital for various ailments were hot and cold water baths, hydro-therapy with water enemas, electric-current therapy, light therapy using both sunlight and artificial lamps, and a regimen of exercise and massage. Among the more famous of the hospital’s clients through the 1910’s and 1920’s were President Warren G Harding, actor Johnny Weissmuller, Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, Sojourner Truth, and Mary Todd Lincoln.

Both of the Kellogg brothers were Seventh-Day Adventists, a fundamentalist church emphasizing strict Biblical literalism and clean living, and their religious beliefs had a huge influence on many of their “treatments”. The Adventists believed in maintaining the purity of the “body’s temple”, and forbade the use of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. They were also strict vegetarians.

Dr John Kellogg, however, took the Adventist faith in the purity of the body to an even further extreme. He was firmly convinced that sex itself was impure and harmful–and most especially the “solitary vice”, the “self-pollution” of masturbation. Kellogg married, but never consummated the union–he and his wife had separate bedrooms, and they adopted all their children. Kellogg became famous across the country for his books condemning sex, promoting celibacy, and luridly describing the evil health effects of “onanism”, which included everything from epilepsy to mood swings to dementia. “Neither plague, nor war, nor small-pox,” he thundered in one of his anti-sex books, “have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism. Such a victim dies literally by his own hand.” Among the “treatments” that Kellogg proposed for masturbation were piercing the foreskin with silver wires to prevent erections, and using carbolic acid to burn the clitoris so it wouldn’t be touched.

But another part of his anti-sex and anti-masturbation “treatment” came from his traditional Adventist reliance on vegetarianism. Kellogg convinced himself that eating meats and spicy foods increased the desire for sex, and forbade any of them at his sanitarium. Instead, he prescribed a bland tasteless diet containing mostly whole grains and nuts. In this, he was following the earlier lead of Presbyterian religious fanatic Sylvester Graham, who had invented the whole-wheat graham cracker as part of a diet that would reduce people’s sexual desire and stop them from both copulating and masturbating. Kellogg now attempted to make his own anti-sex food, by mixing corn meal and oatmeal into dough, adding nuts, and baking them into biscuits which were then crumbled into pieces. He called it “granula”. Unfortunately for Kellogg, that name was already being used by another health food fanatic with a similar product, and he threatened to sue–so Kellogg changed the name of his concoction to “granola”.

The Kellogg brothers also experimented with different types of bread, and with using whole-grain dough to make thin rolled sheets of toasted crackers. One day, after just having cooked some wheat for rolling, they were unexpectedly called away. When they got back, they ran the cooled wheat through the rollers, and each grain was flattened into an individual flake. It was, they thought, a wonderful health food. In 1898 they tried the same process using corn instead of wheat, and “corn flakes” were born.

John Kellogg immediately began serving corn flakes to his patients at the sanitarium, as a method of cleansing their bodies and reducing their sex drive. His bookkeeper brother WK, meanwhile, had less religious fervor and more business sense than John did, and thought they should add sugar to the mixture to eliminate the cardboard taste (a heretical thought to John) and sell it to the public as a breakfast cereal. After some arguing, the two patented their flake cereals and formed the Sanitas Food Company to sell them through mail-order, mostly to former patients of the sanitarium. After a time, the wheat flakes were dropped. But corn flake sales remained low, mostly because John Kellogg still refused to add sugar to the recipe to make it more palatable. Finally in 1906, in frustration, WK Kellogg purchased the rights to make “corn flakes” from his brother, changed the recipe, and set up the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company. After a long legal battle with his brother over the use of the name “Kellogg”, this became the Kellogg Cereal Company, adding Bran Flakes to its product list in 1915 and Rice Krispies in 1927.

By 1930, the Kellogg Cereal Company was the largest breakfast cereal maker in the world. Its primary competition, the Post Cereal Company, had been founded by CW Post–a former patient at the Kellogg Sanitarium, who, WK Kellogg always claimed, had stolen the recipe for corn flakes from the hospital’s safe. Today, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are the best-selling breakfast cereal in the US.



£622m sales a year but Kellogg’s pays next to no tax in Britain: Cereal giant warns shareholders could be hit if Government closes loopholes

Original post from the Daily Mail


  • Kellogg’s makes hundreds of millions from annual sales to British families
  • But latest figures show it effectively paid no corporation tax in UK in 2013
  • Uses complex legal tax manoeuvres involving subsidiary companies
  • But new measures introduced by George Osborne set to close loophole   

Kellogg’s is the latest US owned multinational to be embroiled in the controversy over tax avoidance in Britain.

The cereal giant warned shareholders its profits could be hit by government moves to close tax loopholes.

Kellogg’s, which makes hundreds of millions of pounds each year from sales to British families, uses a complex web of companies to do business here.

Kellogg's is the latest US owned multinational to be embroiled in the controversy over tax avoidance in Britain
Kellogg’s is the latest US owned multinational to be embroiled in the controversy over tax avoidance in Britain

Its two main UK subsidiaries are owned by an operation based in the Republic of Ireland, where corporation tax is 12.5 per cent, compared with the UK’s 20 per cent.

The latest figures show Kellogg’s effectively paid no corporation tax in Britain in 2013, as payments to HMRC by some of its offshoots were wiped out by tax credits elsewhere.

These tax manoeuvres are perfectly legal. Kellogg’s has so far not faced criticism for its tax affairs in Britain, unlike Google, Amazon and Starbucks, which have come under fire for paying a minimal amount to the Exchequer despite huge sales here.

But in its latest annual report the cereal-maker, whose worldwide sales last year hit £9.8billion, admitted ‘contemplated changes in the UK and other countries’ to ‘long established tax principles’ could have a ‘material impact’ on its business.

It added VAT increases and other changes ‘may have an adverse effect on our business’. Kellogg’s has produced cereals in the UK since 1938, and says it has several hundred employees here.

It sells in the UK through two main subsidiaries owned by Irish-based Kellogg Europe Trading Ltd. One is Kellogg Marketing & Sales, which distributes breakfast food for Irish and Swiss-registered companies, and reported sales of £622million to Britons in 2013.

The second, Kellogg Company of Great Britain, makes cereals under contract for an Irish-based operation.

These two subsidiaries paid corporation tax of £8.4million on profits of nearly £50million in 2013. Kellogg’s also has six Luxembourg registered companies which collectively paid corporation tax of £210,000 on profits of about £57million – a rate of 0.37 per cent.

But this £210,000 and the £8.4million were offset by an £11.8million tax credit at another UK-registered operation, Kellogg Group Ltd.

Kellogg’s said comments in its annual report are not related to Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘diverted profits tax’ – which aims to snare companies that shunt profits overseas with the main purpose of saving tax

A Kellogg’s spokesman confirmed the figures but said some profits through the Luxembourg business would relate to companies outside the UK.

He declined to comment on whether Kellogg’s accepted it had in effect paid zero corporation tax in Britain, but said it is ‘a responsible taxpayer’.

Kellogg’s said comments in its annual report are not related to Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘diverted profits tax’ – which aims to snare companies that shunt profits overseas with the main purpose of saving tax.

Richard Murphy, of Tax Research UK, said: ‘It looks as if Kellogg’s is trading in similar fashion to many of the better known tax avoiders.’



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