Battle Creek Sanitarium (the former Western Health Reform Institute of the Church of The Seventh Day Adventists) circa 1880
The Kellogg story is a fascinating confluence of religion, colon health, and good old American Entrepreneurialism. It all began in 1854 when the Adventist Church was established in Battle Creek, Michigan. By 1860, the Church changed it's name to Seventh-day Adventist (SDA): “Seventh Day,” being their Sabbath day--Saturday, the seventh day of their week. “Adventist,” because they were remnants of the Millerite movement that erroneously predicted the advent of the Second Coming of Christ in 1844 (oops!). The Seventh Day Adventists believe in the sanctity of body and soul, and advocate temperance in all things, and preventive medicine, especially, as a way of life. In support of this belief, the Adventists opened their first health retreat in 1866 in Battle Creek--"The Western Health Reform Institute".
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) took charge of the Institute for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1876, changing the name to The Battle Creek Sanitarium. He coined the word “sanitarium” to better reflect his idea of a sanitary retreat for both health restoration and training in contrast with “sanitorium,” which customarily referred to a hospital for invalids or for treatment of tuberculosis and other infectious diseases of the era.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943) and younger brother Will Keith Kellogg (1860-1951)
Both Dr. Kellogg and his younger brother Will Keith Kellogg, his bookkeeper and business manager (from 1880, on), were men of very short physical stature; Dr. Kellogg 5 feet four inches, and his younger brother the taller at 5 foot seven inches. But as history would bear out, they were both destined to become men of great stature as inventors, entrepreneurs, and humanitarians.
Among his various duties, W.K. Kellogg assisted his brother in food experiments. Dr. J. H. Kellogg, was the extrovert of the two, and somewhat more eccentirc as well, later in life adopting a wardrobe of completely white outfits (shoes, socks, suit, shirt, tie, hat, coat, galoshes), further accentuating his white hair, mustache and goatee. By contrast, W. K. Kellogg heavier, bald, unsmiling and introverted. W.K. inconspicuously served his older brother for 26 years at the Sanitarium.
The Sanitarium Lab circa 1906
The 'shy' brother, W. K. Kellogg, is believed to have developed the first edible corn flake product, working after hours as business manager, in the food laboratory at the Sanitarium, though both Kellogg brothers were probably involved in the discovery. The most significant food products developed by the Kellogg brothers were the flaked cereals: Sanitas, the first corn flake (1895), and Granose, the first wheat flake (1898).
W.K. Kellogg sought an alternative to the nutritious, but tasteless, breads on the sanatarium's menu. He experimented with running boiled wheat through rollers in search of an alternative. The 'flake' discovery was somewhat serendipitous. Called away from their experiments, the were forced to leave the cooked wheat exposed to the air for a day. Upon returning, the brothers decided to run the wheat through the rollers anyway, despite the fact that it was no longer fresh. But this time, instead of the single, large sheet of wheat that they had been producing, the rollers produced a flake for each wheat berry. When baked, they produced a light and crisp flake. This flake, much like the breakfast cereals we know today, was first formed in 1894.
This new cereal, Granose, proved so popular with the patients at the sanatarium that many continued to request a supply, even after their time to return home approached. Inspired by the demand, the brothers started the Sanitas Food Company in 1898 to develop Corn Flakes cereal. W.K Kellogg, the general manager of the company, discovered that adding malt flavouring and using the grit or heart of the corn made the flakes even tastier! In 1906, W.K. Kellogg formed the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company, which was officially named the Kellogg Company in 1922, heralding the beginning of the ready-to-eat cereal industry.
1907 The original plant burns to the ground. The present day Battle Creek plant is built.
1910 W. K. Kellogg buys a full-page ad in Ladies' Home Journal. “The Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Book” becomes the first of thousands of premiums offered to consumers who purchase Kellogg's® products.
1914 W. K. Kellogg begins worldwide expansion of the cereal business with introduction of Kellogg's Corn Flakes® in Canada.
1916 Kellogg's® introduces All-Bran®
1922 Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company renamed Kellogg Company. Sales begin in the United Kingdom.
1923 Kellogg Company hired Mary Barber, a registered Dietitian, to establish one of the industry's first professional home economics departments to develop recipes using Kellogg's® cereals.
1924 Kellogg plant is built in Sydney, Australia.
1928 Rice Krispies® appears on the market
1930 Kellogg became the first company to print nutrition messages, recipes and product information on its packages.
1931 Kellogg Company sponsors the nation's first radio network program for children, “The Singing Lady.”
1933 Snap! Crackle! Pop!® first appears on the side of the Rice Krispies® box
1938 Kellogg plant is built in Manchester, England.
1942 Raisin Bran is first available in stores
1951 Kellogg plant is built in Querétaro, Mexico. Founder, W. K. Kellogg, dies at age 91.
1952 Kellogg's introduces Sugar Smacks® and Frosted Flakes®.
1953 Cornelius®, the rooster, made his debut on boxes of Kellogg's Corn Flakes®.
1958 Tony the Tiger® won a contest over Katy the Kangaroo to become the sole spokescharacter for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes®. Cocoa Krispies® appeared on store shelves.
1963 Kellogg operations begin in Takasaki, Japan. Froot Loops® were introduced along with its character, Toucan Sam®.
1964 Kellogg's® introduces Pop-Tarts® toaster pastries.
Kellogg's developed an impressive stable of popular Radio Show sponsorships and both showing their understanding of their target audience as well as developing a continuing demand for their products:
Kellogg's Kaffee Hag spot ad for Sumber Music circa 1937
Slumber Hour was billed as providing 'the sweetest music' of the era, presumably to underscore Kellogg's Kaffee HAG Coffee's abscence of caffeine. One has to wonder how many of it's listeners fell asleep during the show, before all the commercial spots had aired. That may explain it's relatively short run. Indeed, soon after the demise of the program, Kelllogg's Kaffee HAG Coffee was sold to General Foods in 1928, later to become the Sanka decaffeinated coffee we know today.
Irene Wicker (Ireene Wicker), Kellogg's 'The Singing Lady' circa 1933
The Singing Lady, or "Kellogg's Singing Lady" was billed as the first radio network program directed at children. Ireene Wicker was "The Singing Lady". The Singing Lady's songbook was made available to her listening audience as a promotion from Kellogg's. Indeed, in 1932, Kellogg's ran a promotion by which mom's could acquire The Singing Lady's songbooks by redeeming Kellogg's boxtops. The promotion was both a runaway success for Kellogg's and an eye-opener for the radio advertising agencies of the era. Irene Wicker not only sang songs to her audience, but actually did more story telling than singing. The Story Lady parody shorts of later years were based on Irene Wicker's delivery and program. Ireene Wicker herself, is credited with 'discovering' Mel Torme, at the 1934 Chicago's World Fair, where she was judging the chldren's section of the singing contest. Torme was only 10 yrs old when he was judged the winner. In 1935, Kellogg published When the Great Were Small, a book developed to inspire children to pursue the great skills and talent of the artists and musicians who precded them. In 1960, for her devoted work in children's media, Irene Wicker was later awarded a Peabody Award, in honor of her outstanding achievement in radio and television.
One of Kellogg's more prestigious programs of the era was The Circle, which aired during the 1938-1939 Radio Season. The caption reads: "Stars of NBC’s Kellogg Radio Show look pretty for the camera--starting left, Groucho Marx, Cary Grant, Lawrence Tibbett, Carole Lombard, Chico Marx and Ronald Colman."
Throughout 1939 Kellogg's sponsored the Howie Wing Program. Howie Wing is a fascinating and relatively recent re-discovery in the World of Golden Age Radio. The airplane had great impact on our popular culture after the dogfights of WW-I. The Howie Wing Radio Program, created by Wilfred G. Moore, aired from 1938 to 1939. Howie Wing was a 21-year-old "junior pilot" whose adventures were typical for juvenile air fiction of the era. Wing was mentored by Captain Harvey, a WW-I Ace. Howie's girlfriend is Donna Cavendish and his fellow pilot was "Zero" Smith, one of the best "tough weather pilots" but cranky, devious, generally irascible, and sometimes suspected of working for the Germans. The true villain of the show is Burton York, posing as an insurance agent to discredit Captain Harvey, Howie Wing's mentor and father figure. Airlines had bridged both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by then and the public interest in aviation had piqued. Kellogg's sponsored the First Air Express Round-the-World shipment to generate interest in the Howie Wing program. They prepared two suitcases; one to be sent Round-the-World by air in an easterly direction and the other westerly. The race was to see which suitcase would win its Round-the-World trip. The suitcases travelled on:
- Eastern Airlines
- American Airlines
- Pan American Airway
- Air France
- KLM Airlines
- Imperial Airways
- United Airlines
- Western Airlines
- Chicago & Southern Airlines
The suitcases departed Battle Creek, Michigan on February 22, 1939, the Westerly suitcase arriving first back in Battle Creek 25 days later and the Easterly suitcase 29 days later each suitcase having made approximately 75 different stops while traveling 31,188 miles around the World.
The "Breakfast Programs" were a natural for Kellogg's. From Breakfast At Sardi's, to The Breakfast Club, to Breakfast In Hollywood, the Breakfast shows were the perfect vehicle to underscore Kellogg's history-long campaign to convert the World to the idea of starting every day with a meal of one of Kellogg's Breakfast Cereals. Breakfast at Sardi's was actually the precurson to Breakfast in Hollywood., Tom Brenneman hosting both shows, the second from his own restaurant, Brenneman's. Both C.W. Post and General Foods had joined as many as 40 other competitors to much of Kellogg's product line, from their Grain Breakfast Cereals, to their grain based Dog meal to their non-caffeintated hot beverages, their competitors were nippping at Kellogg's heels and both copycatting or outright stealing Kellogg's yearly product and marketing innovations. Breakfast in Hollywood was so successful that it was spun off into a full length movie of the same name in 1946.
The Adventures of Superman and Kellogg's sponsonship of the program once it moved to The Mutual Network, proved to be one of the better natural pairings of product to protagonist in the history of early radio advertising. Of the over 1300 episodes of The Adventures of Superman, well over half were produced under Kellogg's sponsorship. Indeed, so mutually beneficial was the relationshiop between Superman and Kellogg's, that when Superman moved from Radio to Television, it was a natural for Kellogg's to sponsor the TV version of the program. This was yet another long running program for Kellogg's, while further expanding it's juvenile demographic target to include a strong range of the fast growing adult viewer demographic.
Mark Trail was another natural juvenile adventure program well suited to Kellogg's Pep's target demographic during the Breakfast Cereals advertising wars of the 40s and 50s. Mark Trail had a highly successful New York Post syndicated, then King Syndicated comic strip penned by Ed Dodd in 1946,.and later drawn by Jack Elrod from 1978 forward. Beginning with January 30, 1950, the Mutual Broadcasting System launched the Mark Trail Radio Program, featuring Matt Crowley as Mark Trail. Airing three time weekly, 174 thirty-minute episodes were produced, running through June 8, 1951. A second radio series, starring Staats Cotsworth, of Casey, Crime Photographer fame, aired by ABC beginning September 18, 1950, with 51 half-hour shows that ran three times weekly until January 1952. The series then switched to a 15-minute format, producing another 125 episodes that aired weekdays through June 27, 1952. Of the approximately 350 episodes originally commited to transcription, only 10 of the 15-minute episodes are known to have survived. Trail's adopted son, Rusty is the son of an alcoholic and abusive father. Mark Trail's intervention saved Rusty's life. Trail is accompanied by "Andy", his faithful Saint Bernard. Cherry Davis is Trail's longtime girlfriend. Cherry lived with Mark and her father (Doc) at Lost Forest. Doc Davis, a Veterinarian is Cherry's dad.
Tom Corbett, Space Cadet was a relatively short lived sponsorship for Kellogg's--on Radio, especially. It ran for five years on Television and only six months on radio from January 1952 through July 1952. A juvenile space adventure, it began on TV, then a year later on radio, three days a week for ABC. The program was loosely based on the famous Robert Heinlein science fiction novel, "Space Cadet" of 1946. Legendary voice talent Jackson Beck was the announcer. Direction was by Drex Hines, with scripts from Richard Jessup, Jack Weinstock and Willie Gilbert, Don Hughes, and Gilbert Brann. Frankie Thomas was Tom Corbett, Al Markim was Astro and Ed Bryce was Captain Strong. Together they fought and vanquished criminals, space pirates, renegade Solar Guard officers, treacherous colonists and all manner of space disaster. Jan Merlin reprised his TV role as the ill-tempered Roger Manning, who tended to get into one serious scrape or another in almost every episode.