Saturday, 28 October 2017

Skulduggery between two brothers whose last name is entirely known in English speaking countries.

I have been engrossed in this book (Pantheon Books 2017).

It's a gripping tale of the Kellogg brothers -  John Henry (1852-1943), and Will Keith (1860 - 1951).

John Henry was spotted and destined for greatness  by Ellen Harmon White ("Prophetess" and founder of the Seventh Day Adventist) and her husband James White. They mentored him and sponsored his education at Bellevue Hospital Medical College.  They prepared him to be the Director of their Sanatorium in Battle Creek, MI.

J.H. Kellogg emerged as a masterful surgeon, a brilliant diagnostician, and a powerful advocate of meat free healthy diets.

Brilliant as he was, JHK was an arrogant despot. He eventually wrestled control of the San from the General Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and it became his fiefdom.  He was excommunicated by the SDA's for his pains.

Brilliant as he was as a Surgeon, Diagnostician, and far sighted dietician, JHK also has some quirky and dangerous ideas.   He saw indigestion and masturbation  as major actors against human health. He and his wife almost certainly did not consummate their marriage, and slept in separate roomsfrom day one of their marriage.

Quite disastrously JHK also became a fervent advocate for the pseudo-science of eugenics.

John Henry Kellogg

He treated his younger brother Will Keith Kellogg  with contempt and cruelty even through WK was the business brains of the San.

 In due course WKK, separated from JHK,  (in a law suit which reached the Michigan Supreme Court), was declared  to be the sole owner of the Kellogg Company which we all now know.

Some of us will remember the days when the W.K. Kellogg signature was reproduced on boxes of Kelloggs Corn Flakes.

John Henry Kellogg with all his brilliance (and quirkiness) was a failure as a business manager, largely because he was a dictatorial control freak.  He lost control of the San and was mortified because some of the new leaders smoked cigarettes and ate meat. The San went belly up. It became a military hospital during WWII and is now a Federal Government building in Battle Creek

Will Keith Kellogg when out from under his brother's thumb turned the Kellogg Corn Flake Company into an outstanding success.  He knew how to run a business and he was a genius at advertising and marketing. His enormous wealth was used to create the Kellogg charitable foundation.

The brothers feuded throughout their lives and never reconciled. JHK did write a letter of contrition to WKK but the latter did nott read it until after his older brother's death.

My copy of "The Kelloggs - The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek" will be returned to the Sarasota County Library system today.  It is an intriguing tale, and an excellent read.

Not the most attractive name for a breakfast cereal.


(In 1928, Battle Creek Sanitarium expanded with a fourteen-story tower, built across the street from the main sanitarium. This tower went into receivership in 1933, while the sanitarium continued to operate from its main facility. In 1942, the U. S. Army purchased the tower and established the Percy Jones General Hospital; the hospital closed permanently in 1953 and one year later became the Battle Creek Federal Center { squib from Wikipedia]) 

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