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The Surprising Origins: Unveiling the Real Reason Behind Breakfast Cereal’s Invention

The real reason breakfast cereal was invented

Breakfast cereal has become a staple in many households around the world, but have you ever wondered why it was invented in the first place? The story behind the creation of breakfast cereal is quite fascinating and involves a colorful cast of characters, including John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of cornflakes. In this article, we will explore the real reason why breakfast cereal was invented and delve into the fascinating history behind it.

John Harvey Kellogg and the Fight Against Dyspepsia

John Harvey Kellogg, along with his brother Will, introduced the concept of flaked cereal when they filed a patent for “flaked cereal” in 1895. However, their motivation for creating these cereals was not just to provide a tasty breakfast option. Instead, their main goal was to combat “dyspepsia,” a condition characterized by indigestion, among civilized people.
Kellogg believed that a bland diet could help alleviate the symptoms of indigestion and improve overall health. He prepared thoroughly cooked and compressed flakes of various grains, including corn flakes, at the Battle Creek Sanitarium Health Food Co, a spa he operated. This spa offered a number of unconventional treatments, including electric shocks, water therapy, and mechanical horse rides. Kellogg’s cereals became popular with the sanitarium’s patients, and their success paved the way for the emergence of breakfast cereals as a new food category.

The controversial link to self-stimulation

One of the most intriguing aspects of the invention of cornflakes is its controversial link to self-stimulation. It has been widely rumored that cornflakes were created as part of an anti-masturbation crusade. However, this claim is mostly false, according to fact-checking sources such as Snopes.
While Kellogg expressed his disapproval of self-stimulation, he never explicitly recommended eating cornflakes for this purpose. Instead, he advocated a diet free of stimulants and believed that certain foods, such as tea, coffee, spices, and even cinnamon, could lead to heightened emotions and “abominable” behavior. Kellogg’s primary intention with cornflakes was to provide a simple, pure, and unstimulating breakfast option that would aid digestion and promote obedience and courtesy.

The Rise of Breakfast Cereals

John Harvey Kellogg’s introduction of cornflakes sparked a revolution in the food industry. Charles William Post, a former patient at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, was so impressed with Kellogg’s cereal that he created his own line of breakfast foods, including Postum Cereal Coffee and Grape-Nuts. Post was not alone in being inspired by Kellogg’s success. In the years that followed, more than 100 companies flocked to Battle Creek to emulate Kellogg’s process, leading to the widespread popularity of breakfast cereals across America.

Corn Flakes and the Racial Purity Movement

The history of breakfast cereals takes an even darker turn when we examine John Harvey Kellogg’s involvement in the eugenics movement. Kellogg invested money from cornflake dividends in the eugenics movement, which sought to improve the genetic quality of the human population. He funded organizations such as the Race Betterment Foundation and supported nationwide educational campaigns based on eugenics principles.
Kellogg’s ideas went beyond dietary recommendations, as he proposed placing the entire population under government medical supervision and rewarding families with prizes for their health records. Although these proposals were extreme even for eugenicists of the time, they were fortunately not adopted.


The invention of breakfast cereals, particularly cornflakes, is a story that intertwines health, morality, and social movements. John Harvey Kellogg’s battle with dyspepsia and his unconventional beliefs about diet and behavior played a significant role in the creation of breakfast cereals as we know them today. While the initial intentions behind the invention of cereal may have been rooted in health and wellness, the history of breakfast cereal also reveals the complex and sometimes controversial aspects of its development.
As breakfast cereal remains a popular choice for many people, it’s important to remember the origins of this seemingly simple and ubiquitous food. The real reason why breakfast cereal was invented offers a fascinating glimpse into the intersection of science, culture, and individual beliefs.


Was breakfast cereal invented just for health reasons?

While health reasons played an important role in the invention of breakfast cereals, it is important to note that other factors, such as combating dyspepsia and promoting docility, also influenced their creation.

Did John Harvey Kellogg invent cereal to suppress sexual desire?

While Kellogg expressed his disapproval of self-stimulation and believed that certain foods could contribute to heightened emotions, there is no explicit evidence that cornflakes were invented solely for the purpose of suppressing sexual desire.

How did the invention of corn flakes lead to the rise of breakfast cereals?

The success of cornflakes at Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium inspired others, including former patient Charles William Post, to create their own breakfast cereal brands. This led to a wave of companies emulating Kellogg’s process, ultimately popularizing breakfast cereal across America.

What other unconventional treatments did the Battle Creek Sanitarium offer?

The Battle Creek Sanitarium was known for its unconventional treatments, which included electric shocks, water therapy, and mechanical horseback rides. These treatments were administered along with the consumption of Kellogg’s cereal.

What was John Harvey Kellogg’s involvement in the eugenics movement?

Kellogg invested money from cornflake dividends in the eugenics movement, supporting organizations such as the Race Betterment Foundation and advocating nationwide educational campaigns based on eugenics principles. However, his extreme proposals were not adopted.

Are there any health concerns associated with breakfast cereals?

While breakfast cereals have become a popular choice, it’s important to note that some processed cereals may contain additives and refined grains that may not be as beneficial to your health. Choosing whole grain cereals and reading labels can help you make healthier choices.

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