The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek

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About the Book

From the much admired medical historian, author of An Anatomy of Addiction, the story of the two Kellogg brothers: one who became America's most beloved physician between the mid-nineteenth century and World War II, a best-selling author, lecturer and health magazine publisher who was read by millions, and founder of the world-famous Battle Creek Sanitarium in 1876; the other, his younger brother, who founded in 1906 the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company.

In The Kelloggs, Howard Markel tells the sweeping American saga of these two extraordinary men whose lifelong competition with, and enmity toward, each other changed America's notion of health and wellness, and who helped to alter the course of American medicine as it emerged from the ashes of superstition and quackery into our modern era of healing, cures, and prevention.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, internationally known and revered, at the center of the most significant century of medicine for almost seventy years, creator of the Battle Creek Sanitarium; America's patron saint of the pursuit of wellness . . .

His brother, Will, who, with John, experimented with malt, wheat, and corn meal to make a product he called corn flakes, followed by puffed rice, shredded wheat, bran flakes, and toasted oat cereals.

Will saw the cereals as a potential gold mine after a former patient of Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium, C. W. Post, stole Kellogg's recipes in 1895 (they were never copyrighted; John saw them as his gift to humanity) and opened his own food company in Battle Creek. (C. W. Post's Post Toasties--his version of corn flakes--his Grape Nuts, a wheat-based cereal containing neither grapes nor nuts; and Postum, a bran- and molasses-based coffee substitute, were devoured by millions.) The Post Cereal Company eventually became General Foods.

Will founded his own cereal company in 1906, the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, later the Kellogg Company, creating a financial bounty that resulted in endless lawsuits between the brothers. Among the many Kellogg's products that became household staples are Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, All-Bran, Special K, Sugar Frosted Flakes ("They're Great!") , Froot Loops, Eggo waffles, Pop-Tarts, Keebler cookies and even Pringles potato chips.

Markel writes of the Kelloggs' ascent into the pantheon of American industrialists by building the Battle Creek Sanitarium (it became a world famous medical center, spa, and grand hotel) . Among his patients: Mary Todd Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Johnny Weissmuller, George Bernard Shaw, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Eddie Cantor, and U.S. presidents from William Howard Taft to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

About the Author

Howard Markel
track author

Professor Markel's work has been recognized with numerous grants, honors and awards. In 1996, he received the James A. Shannon Director's Award of the National Institutes of Health and the Burroughs-Wellcome Trust 40th Anniversary History of Medicine Award. In 1998, he was named a Centennial Historian of the City of New York and was an inaugural fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers of the New York Public Library from 1999-2000; in 2003 he received the Arthur Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association. In 2007, he received the Theodore Woodward Award from the American Clinical and Climatological Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Health Investigator's Health Policy Award. In 2008, in recognition of his scholarly accomplishments, Dr. Markel was elected as a Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, which in July of 2015 was renamed the National Academy of Medicine (of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. In 2015, he was named a Guggenheim Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation for "demonstrating exceptional capacity for productive scholarship."

Item Details

Publication Year:
US Salesrank: 480200


Bottom Line:
 3.5 / 5 - Good
Reviewed by: Brian McCulloh

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