Breakfast in the Temple of Health: Battle Creek Michigan - Part I
Wandering Blerds journey to Battle Creek, Michigan where they unearth the secrets of the institution that was the foundation of the American health and fitness movement. Delve delve into the history of the cereal industry and the true motivations of men (in particular the Kellogg brothers W. K. and J. H.) who revolutionized breakfast!
Battle Creek, a bucolic little town with a big historical footprint.
Will you look at a bowl of cereal the same way again?...
Here are some supporting links mentioned in this episode:
- And now for some homework for YOU, listeners. You must watch the movie The Road to Wellville (or at least this trailer if you're just curious). You won't regret it!
Leave us a comment and tell us how you enjoyed this episode! Did you learn anything new?
Meki: Welcome to Wandering Blerds. Coming to you from the city that never sleeps in the deep deep deep… BKLYN. Brooklyn. Brought to you by the Gifted Sounds Network. Wandering Blerds, the show that let’s those on the go know just where to go when they wander the Big Blue Marble!
I’m Meki T, and I’m Meki B
Meki: This week we’re wandering to beautiful Battle Creek. Hidden gem of Michigan, respite for freedom seekers, cereal capital of the world. Battle Creek, the birthplace of the Seventh Day Adventist Church; beautiful, bountiful Battle Creek.
So, would you like to take a guess about how Battle Creek got its name Meke?
Meki: Sure. Uh, ok. I’m assuming that it has to do with the battle that took place by a creek.
Meki: You know what? Most people would assume that. That’s a really safe assumption. However, it has to do with hungry Potawatomi Indians and a few government surveyors.
On March 14th, 1824, two Potawatomi men approached a party of federal surveyors led by Colonel John Mullet. Under the terms of a treaty the Potawatomi people signed with the federal government in 1820, they were promised a delivery of provisions. Now that delivery was late. The Potawatomis were hungry so they asked the survey party, “Where’s the food you promised us?”
Colonel Mullet and one of his surveyors told the men that they didn’t have their food, and they sent the hungry Potawatomis away. The men left but that night they came back to relieve the survey party of a, some burdensome provisions that they had in their possession.
Meki: And, the surveyor wakes up. In the ensuing skirmish one of the Potawotami men was shot and seriously wounded. Now he didn’t die. But the next day the survey party, they suspected that there was going to be problems, the fallout from that. And they fell back to Detroit. Which you would say ok how far is Detroit, not too far. Wrong. It wasn’t close! It was 123 miles away! And the surveyors who returned to the area remembered that incident where the Potawatomi man was shot. And after that skirmish they called that village and the river that ran next to it “Battle Creek”. And if you’re wondering whatever happened to the descendants of those Potawatomis and the Ottawas who lived in the Battle Creek area, they now reside on the Pine Creek Reservation.
Meki: Yeah. *breath in* Kinda deep. Kinda sad.
Meki: It’s like, “You were hungry? Guess what? We’re taking your land.” Yeah.
Meki: *sigh* Hm.
Meki: So. Thoughts on that?
Meki: Um, I mean, so like, I’m not totally wrong. *Laughter* I mean, there was a battle.
Meki: Yeah. Small skirmish…
Meki: … by a river… But still that sounds like so many different stories about the origins of the different states. Um, yeah…
Meki: I’m not surprised.
Meki: Yeah. So essentially this, there were three major factors that were pivotal to the development of Battle Creek, Michigan: Rivers, railroads, and revelations. Battle Creek and the Kalamazoo rivers created an outwash plain, as well as a power source for mills. You had mill pond businesses like flour, grain, knitting mills. And the Erie Canal was used to transport goods and people in and out of Battle Creek, Michigan, via the Michigan central and grand trunk railroads. And they connected the city to the city of Chicago, Canada, and All Points West. It created like a thriving commercial center and it played a critical role as a stop on the Quaker route of the Underground Railroad making it a lifeline for freedom seekers during the Antebellum era. And, so, Battle Creek area owes its initial population boom to religious revelation, um both from the Seventh Day Adventist Church and Quakers. But we’re going to get more in to Quaker contribution in part two of this episode.
The first group that had revelations that grew, you know, led to the growth of Battle Creek were the Seventh Day Adventists. Now they started arriving in Battle Creek in 1852. So what do you, do you know anything about the Seventh Day Adventist church?
Meki: I know that they’re really devout, they are um they’re pretty diverse.
Meki: Um, I know that a lot of Caribbean Americans or people of Caribbean descent are Seventh Day Adventists just from what I’ve seen in NYC in different neighborhoods. And it seems like the the women are treated way differently, like they’re very um conservative and I assume they’re not allowed to wear pants even…
Meki: Um their dress is is pretty much conservative and you’re right it’s a very uh conservative sect of Christianity, however it grew out of a progressive uh doomsday um sect of of Christianity out of Upstate New York.
Meki: UH!… A doomsday!
Meki: … Yes!
Meki: … A doomsday group?! Like a frat… a faction?
Meki: Yes. So like, it started, um, one of the founders was a lady named Ellen White and her husband. And they were both from Upstate New York which is where the movement started. And in 1863 the founder Ellen started receiving visions that the world would end. So the first Seventh day Adventist started arriving in Battle Creek Michigan in about 1852. And they came from upstate NY which is the birthplace of a lot of progressive, spiritual, and religious movement. Ellen White, is, who’s one of the three founders and her husband, um, moved there, and she had started receiving visions. And those visions would launch Battle Creek into the future of American health and wellness here. Um, so it’s really kind of interesting how it all started with her religious revelations, um, Ellen’s vision was that the body was a temple and that it should be maintained in pristine condition through vegetarianism, exercise, and rigorous hydrotherapy, and the body should be maintained in preparation for the second coming of Christ which was at hand.
The Seventh Day Adventist got it wrong three times before they stopped saying that Christ was coming on a certain day. But Ellen’s revelation was published for the church which grew from 16 pages to 19 volumes. Um, there’s still a cornerstone of the Seventh Day Adventist doctrine and Ellen had nearly 2000 revelations from the ages of 17 to 70. So she was seeing things a lot. And talking about the things that she saw. But the biggest one that had the biggest impact for Battle Creek was her Christmas 1865 vision which led to the establishment of the Western Health Reform Institute, which came to be known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium.
In 1866 Ellen White and her husband Reverend James White founded the Western Health Reform Institute, which was our first stop in Battle Creek.
If you’ve ever eaten a bowl of cold cereal or yogurt, granola, or graham crackers, if you’ve ever had a colonic or used a loofah, if you’re an American male who’s not Jewish and you’re circumcised. Or if you’ve used a tens system or sunbathed or ridden an electrical bull, one of those electronic bucking bulls or used a rowing machine *laughing* then you have been personally been touched by the influence of the Western Health Reform Institute. And its most popular um, Director, J Harvey Kellogg.
Meki: OH! J Harvey Kellogg of the Kellogg cereal company?
Meki: … was the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium?
Meki: YES! In fact um he is the most notable Director of the Western Health Reform Institute which he renamed the Battle Creek Sanitarium under his tenure there. Um in fact he he actually um coined the term Sanitarium. He used the words sanitorum, um, which isn’t Santorum, but in a sanitorum is where you would have soldiers come and convalesce and he took the word sanitary and stuck it together…
Meki: … and called it sanitarium.
Meki: Yes. Um and the Battle Creek Sanitarium is in the center of town. Um, it looms large. It is larger than almost all the other buildings in City Hall. It’s megalithic.
Meki: Is it still open?
Meki: It is. It is now a federal building.
Meki: Oh wow. Ok.
Meki: And that’s it’s its third incarnation. So, you’re probably wondering, what is the big deal about the San? Like, why?
Meki: Um, well just from what you told me it sounds like there were a lot of inventions that came out of there, and a lot of breakthroughs in healthcare and medical technology, um, other kinds of um, I guess medical treatments and everyday items that we use… have been developed there and just WOW!
Meki: … just a lot of stuff.
Meki: You know how they say that um, that necessity is the mother of invention?
Meki: Well so was insanity, in a way.
Meki: Um, Kellogg had some cutting, really state of the art, cutting edge technologies that he developed while he was there. I mentioned the rowing machine, he also um, popularized Sitz baths, um, he had hydrotherapies that included everything from um, bathing in carbonated water to hot and cold water blasts to the body, um, colonics, uh, he had… if you’ve ever seen one of those machines that has a belt that goes around your waist…
Both: … that shakes you…
Meki: That is…
Meki: Oh that was his doing!…
Meki: … that is John Harvey Kellogg
Meki: So all that old footage was because of him?
Meki: All that old footage of the bigger folks like…
Both: … shaking
Meki: … and stuff
Meki: He believed in that you know. Um, movement, he believed that, you know, movement was very critical to you know, the body’s health I mean health from the body
Meki: Oh! So like the mechanical bull
Meki: … so exercise machines like your mechanical bull, your rowing machine. Many of his inventions like weren’t just in the San. They were on the Titanic um, the President actually had J Harvey Kellogg’s um, exercise equipment in the White House.
Meki: Um the King of England so Queen’s Elizabeth’s father King George had um what is a light bath. It was called the um, I can’t remember the name of the light bath that he had um but essentially what it is…
Meki: Is it like light therapy?
Meki: It’s light therapy. It looks like a cage and I’ll put a picture of it up on the website, a link to that. But it looks like a cage that goes around your neck and on the inside are several light bulbs, incandescent light bulbs
Meki: And you would sit in there in underwear so that your body would be exposed to as much light as possible.
Meki: Oh my goodness!
Meki: He believed, and it’s hot of course! After a while you’re gonna heat up. But your head is sticking out and I used to see these things on things like I Love Lucy and things. I was like what is this? And we don’t…
Meki: Oh right~
Meki: … have these things like this anywhere. Have you seen something like that before?
Meki: That’s who invented that!
Meki: No way!
Meki: And the King of England bought that from John Harvey Kellogg so that he could get as much light exposure as possible. And it’s interesting because now we have those therapies that have things like Seasonal Affective Disorder
Meki: People who are low on Vitamin D… John Harvey Kellogg.
And if you’re in, actually that would be another stop that you would, if you’re interested in seeing some of the other inventions that John Harvey Kellogg actually uh created for health and wellness as a part of his uh biologic living um and I’ll go into that some more a little later, system, you can visit the Doctor John, JH Kellogg Discovery Center which is right there in Battle Creek Michigan. And it has what, you know, would be prototypes of his inventions. Now one of the things that he didn’t do, what he wasn’t rigorous at was um, patenting his inventions.
Meki: Mm, ok
Meki: So like they were free but um it looks like an antique gem and people can go in and take a look at it.
Meki: Ok. Did a lot of people steal ideas from him?
Meki: Well, it’s kind of interesting because you can say yes and no one ‘cause he also co opted some
Both: … other people’s inventions
Meki: Oh! Alright well.
Meki: But yeah like I said President Coolidge had his mechanical horse which is the precursor to the mechanical bull you know. So his inventions got out there um, but they were innovative like, one of the more twisted ones I’ll explain later, um, because
Meki: Oh wow
Meki: … yeah he’s a… really… Um, he’s a profoundly wacky guy.
Meki: Ok. Alright.
Meki: … Innovative and wacky.
Meki: Ok! I’m staying tuned. I hope you guys are too listeners!
Meki: Yes. Um, join us after a word from our sponsors.
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Meki: Thank you for joining us on this episode of Wandering Blerds Podcast where we’re visiting um Battle Creek Michigan and discovering a little bit about the Battle Creek Sanitarium and uh, it’s Director J Harvey Kellogg. So, life at the San was luxurious and well, *pause* it was different. Um the San was a state of the art health spa and it operated at its height from 1890 to 1928. It’s boarded black and pink gold-veined marble walls in the common areas, lavish oriental rugs, a 60’ x 40’ domed-glassed ceiling lobby with palms and 20’ tall banana and citrus trees, a fountain waterfall, and a fish pond in the lobby. Now there was also a 1500 sq. foot, red-tiled sun garden above the dining room on the roof. The building also had an indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and tennis courts. It had billboard rooms, it had bowling alleys, billiard rooms, several kitchens, and what was once Michigan’s largest laundry. Yes!
Meki: What? Ok.
Meki: It was huge. The facility could accommodate more than 1250 guests at a time and 1800 staff members. Now nurses and support staff were offered room and board for the first year of work, AND the privilege of working with Dr. John Harvey Kellogg in lieu of money. So that first year you worked there you just did it for the honor of working with him and room and board.
Meki: Ok. And so that’s where the HUGE laundry came in.
Meki: Laundry and the grounds. For everyone. Ok *giggle*
Meki: So you have the grounds that would take care of the staff that lived on site there.
Meki: Um, the 400 acre grounds hosted the facilities well. They had a water softening treatment plant, uh several cabins, a creamery, orchards, a power plant, and gardens. Now I want you to think about this. I said a power plant! In 1903 here in NYC on what, Madison? Um, yes, I believe it was Madison. You had the first internal house lighting. 1903. The San…
Meki: It was like 1850’s right?
Meki: Right. This is 1890’s
Meki: Oh, sorry.
Meki: … that this came into being. So they were some of the first people to even HAVE something like this. Period! Like you came into a lighted hotel?! The first hotel with like suites that had bathrooms in it, private bathrooms, Waldorf Astoria! And electrical lighting, that was slowly, a slow transition. So this was way ahead of its time. Um, the guests at the Sans, the San, they were actually given special treatment too. When you came into the San, each person was given a physical exam when they checked in. Stool samples were taken, urine samples, your tongue was inspected, yes. *laughter* In fact I’ll tell you what. Um have you ever seen the Road to Wellville?
Meki: The Road to Wellville is actually parody of life at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. It’s historical fiction however what’s fictional about it is the couple. All those other elements of that movie
Meki: Is real?
Meki: They’re real.
Meki: What is the movie called again?
Meki: It’s The Road to Wellville and it featured Matthew Broderick…
Meki: … as the main a character, Mr. Lightbody, and they show him into his entry exam. He’s asked to squat behind a screen so that Dr. Kellogg can inspect his stool and JH Kellogg just as is depicted in the movie was known to brag about the quality of his stools and how his stools were a reflection of the health of his body. Like I’ll get more of that later. That gets into the prurient aspect of this show.
Meki: And I’ll need to give a disclaimer like parents, a nice little disclaimer that it’s gonna get real. Um, *laughter* So, we just need to let you know that little bit. But back to life at the San. Now, after all this was done, each each person each visitor was given a specialized customized diet. Men and women were housed in separate towers the San. Men were expected to wear nothing but loin cloth diapers when not in mixed company. Why??? Because Dr. Kellogg believed that the body should have maximum exposure to light and fresh air. So the men were expected to expose their bodies to maximum light, maximum air exposure, and even when they weren’t exercising outside. So as much as much air your body can get, as much time as possible, um, and he actually seldom wore anything but that diaper when he retired to the Miami San after he left the Battle Creek San in 1928. Now this was actually a bone of contention, this diaper that he would wear
Meki: ... ‘cause it would look like, let’s put it this way you’ve seen the cloth, the loin cloth Sumos wear?
Meki: It looked a lot like that
Meki: Uh huh. And he had no compunction about being photographed by the media in his loincloth sans anything else.
Meki: By that time his brother WK Kellogg had the Kellogg Cereal Company, and he felt like his brother being photographed by the media was taking away from like the dignity and the name of his Kellogg cereal company. So he actually hired a lawyer to see if he could make his brother put on clothes in public. And the lawyer said I’m sorry but you’re gonna be wasting your money. You can’t make your brother put on clothes in public. Yeah. But *whispering* skipping ahead of ourselves a bit *laughing*
Meki: Just wow Meki/
Both: … and the diaper *laughing* Getting back *more laughing* And the diaper
Meki: Getting back to um our diaper clad guest at the Battle Creek San, um, most of the group activities at the San were set to music. And this included dining and fitness regimens. This is another thing that’s depicted in that movie. Um in fact Columbia Records approached Kellogg about recording his exercise, his daily exercise regimen. His five album health [ ?????? ladder ?????? ] was accompanied by a 55 page instruction manual which included information on Kellogg’s biologic living, how to do the exercises, and how to count your calories.
Meki: That’s actually a really good thing *laughing*
Meki: Yeah! It’s weird!…
Meki: With the movement
Meki: With the movement and the air and… So a lot of his inventions were meant to bring fresh air outside. Now of course if you’re coming to recuperate from you know, tuberculosis he would roll you on the front porch of the San or he’d have a window open so that you can get fresh air and you know the cure could kill. *Laughter.*
Um, ok so the big question is who was John Harvey Kellogg? Um, he was by all accounts an interesting man; A visionary, a progressive, an inventor, a eugenicist, a dogmatist, and not to put too fine of a point on it, a first class kook.
Meki: A eugenicist?
Meki: A eugenicist! Oh yeah!
Meki: Mhm! John Harvey Kellogg was one of, was the fifth of 17 children. He almost died of tuberculosis as a child and his parents kept him out of school until he finally convalesced until the age of 9. Now his parents, Seventh Day Adventists, believed that the second coming of Christ was close at hand. So formal education of his children, of their children, was a waste of time. As such Kellogg was pulled back out of school at the age of 11 so he could take a job in his father’s broom factory. Now John and Ellen White, the founders or the cofounders of the Seventh Day Adventist Movement, they took an interest in young John Harvey Kellogg, and offered him an apprenticeship with the Health Reform newspaper at the age of 12. So the Whites took him out of the broom factory. They encouraged his parents to allow him to continue his education and he made up for lost time out of the classroom very fast. Um, by the age of 16 he was teaching in Hastings, Michigan, under the Whites’ tutelage. And with a $1,000 loan John Harvey went on to earn a medical degree from NYU’s program at Bellevue Hospital.
Now a year after completing his Doctorate at Bellevue, John Harvey came back to the Western Health Reform Institute to assume the role of Director, which he maintained until his death in 1943.
Meki: Now during his tenure at the Western Health Reform Institute what he would DO would change the face of American life. He was the 5’4” charismatic man who walked around the grounds of the San dressed from head to toe in white to exemplify his commitment to clean living. He often had a cockatoo that would sit on his um, his shoulder as he walked around the grounds. Um he also expanded on Ellen White’s vision of vegetarianist, hydrotherapy, and exercise of physical and spiritual health. Well incorporated a rigorous electrotherapy and photo therapies as well. As heat and cold therapies. Now during his time at the Battle Creek San he actually performed 22,000 operations. Now at this point we have to kind of let people know, um, if you’ve got younger listeners you might want to, I don’t know, tune out for about 3-4 minutes ‘cause things are, what we said before, about to get real. Um there is some prurient and sexual content. That’s coming up. Um…
Meki: I’m ready *laughing*
Meki: You ready? All right. Unfortunately John Harvey Kellogg adopted some, and advanced some, of Sylvester Graham’s philosophies on sensual and venal excess. Um, Sylvester Graham was a predecessor in health reform and vegetarianism from England and he also believed that venal excesses, things like hot baths and soft beds for men, was a gateway to sin and disease in the body. So…
Meki: Soft beds…
Meki: Soft beds yes.
Meki: And excess baths
Meki: And excess baths
Meki: So he created graham flour to help with cleaning out the body um and cleaning out desire. So essentially um laughter John Harvey Kellogg created the graham cracker in honor of Graham
Meki: Right?! Um,
Meki: Oh my gosh! Ok
Meki: … as a part of his battle against sensual pleasure. Um, he didn’t, he believed that hot baths, soft beds, salt, sugar, and spices excited sexual urges and should be avoided at all costs.
Meki: But! Doesn’t it have spices and sugar? Ok…
Meki: Yeah, very minimal. Think about the stuff. It turns to paste in your mouth.
Meki: Yeah, true.
Meki: It’s not really all that very exciting.
Meki: Very true
Meki: Um, yeah.
Meki: Yeah. So Kellogg believed that sex was a sewer drain of the body. And that’s a direct quote. And that masturbation was the silent killer of the night. Um *mutual laughing* Yes. Um, he often boasted about his chaste marriage to his wife Ella Eaton. In fact Dr. John Harvey Kellogg drafted his book “Plain Facts for the Old and Young” on his honeymoon; 97 pages of that tome were directed to his personal war on masturbation, which included deterrents like circumcision on boys without anesthetics, application of carbolic acid to girls’ clitorises, genital cages, and hand binding for children, surgical application of sutures attaching the foreskin to the glands of the penis so that like if you were aroused it would be painful so he’s essentially creating an artificial phimosis which is where the head of the penis is fused to the foreskin.
Meki: *Nervous giggle* Yeah!
Meki: John Harvey Kellogg took his battle against what he called the Solitary Vice very seriously as he thought it caused epilepsy, uterine cancer, blindness, acne, eating disorders, physical deformity, and mental illness.
Meki: So being constipated and horny could drive you crazy essentially. Like mentally crazy, not cooky wacky crazy like him. His remedy for this particular condition included daily colonics and enemas, nut consumption, 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, and a high fiber diet.
Meki: Wait a minute. Um, so the 6 to 8 glass recommendation of water, that’s from Kellogg?
Meki: Yeah. That’s it.
Meki: Ok. And also, the high fiber diet?
Meki: High fiber…
Meki: … to poop a lot…
Meki: … and nut eating.
Meki: … and nut eating. That is encouraged.
Meki: Source of uh, protein for those vegetarian. So he really believed this vegetarianist…
Meki: This is true
Meki: … all about keeping your bowels clean. Like he liked to brag about clean bowels.
Meki: Yeah he had some problems. *laughing* He had some problems. We don’t know what they were exactly but um, essentially um one of the things that he prescribed, uh, was water enemas or colonics followed by yogurt enemas and the machine is actually a liter. They have that in that Discovery center, so you had a little of water flushed after by a liter of yogurt. And there is a photo that I will also link to one of the Battle Creek pictures, all of the bowel irrigation processes were done in the bottom of the men and women’s, um, towers of the Sanitarium. So in the basement he would evacuate the bowels. Um…
Meki: … Yeah and there are pictures of men standing outside like lined up outside of toilet stalls I did say it was going to get real right?
Meki: Yes. He believed that the yogurt enemas would replace the [probiotics] lost during the water colonics. Um, so he not only believed in warm and cold water and yogurt enemas but he also believed/advocated daily glycerine, olive, and paraffin oil enemas. Now what the paraffin oil enema would do was wash away all of the fat-soluble vitamin A, D, and K out of the bowels, out of the lower intestines, which would leave the patients vulnerable to things like infertility, clotting disorders, osteo malsea, hemorrhoids and anal leakage which in a way, kind of, you know, achieved his ultimate aim of turning people off because most people aren’t really turned on by anal leakage.
Meki: Yeah! Yeah yeah yeah.
Meki: You know, oily anal leakage is not a big turn on. Yeah. Yes. Mmm, not to mention there was another thing that he, another machine that he created that was a catheter that would go into the urethra of a man’s penis. It would flush it with water and then send a slight electrical shock through the urethra to help with the urge to masturbate and/or have sex which he believed was dangerous, which is why he kept a chaste marital bed.
Meki: I wonder if there’s any kind of role play. Like sexual role play that people do where someone is like “I’m gonna be Dr. Kellogg.”
Meki: “You’re a naughty boy. I’m going to teach you a lesson”
Meki: “You button up that shirt. You button it up high!”
Meki: “You’ve been very naughty today!”
Meki: “You eat your corn flakes!”
Meki: “I saw you get hard!”
Meki: “You eat your corn flakes and you take your enemas.” And it’s funny that you mention this because some historians have speculated that Kellogg’s obsession with bowels may have stemmed from Klismaphilia, which is an erotic stimulation from enemas. And that a childhood bout of measles actually left him impotent hence the war on sex.
Meki: Oh my.
Meki: Ok, that’s deep.
Meki: Yes And like altering the lives of so many other people because you yourself cannot…
Meki: Cannot actually have
Meki: … cannot do stuff UGH! Wow
Meki: Yeah, cannot actually have sex. Um but once again that’s kind of speculation
Meki: … because we can’t know for sure.
Meki: He didn’t discuss that he just liked to talk about his bowels and his actually he spent a lot of time about his scatological functions. Um, what’s interesting about this and this kind of leads to the Corn Flake Wars.
Meki: Corn flakes were developed as a front line to his war on the solitary vice. They were designed as a part of keeping your bowels clean. It was a meat substitute, was originally not meant to be eaten even with milk! You were supposed to take the corn flakes and go, and have this nice, you know, flaky front line food in the battle to keep you from arousal and masturbation. Um, the Kellogg brothers actually parted ways because well, the first thing was they had a hard time getting corn flakes to flake. Um, it was a batch that actually went bad and was about to mold and his brother WK Kellogg who worked with him but he didn’t treat WK very well. It was his younger brother, they were seven years between the two of them and um when WK first came in he came in as a money manager but he was a businessman. He kind of, he was able to take classes and WK would John Harvey would do things like have WH take notes as he exercised around the grounds. He would even have him take notes while he was in the restroom. WK Kellogg felt was very very um humiliating.
Meki: Let’s give them, uh, nickname so we can…
Meki: John Harvey,
Meki: … and that’s the elder
Meki: The doctor
Meki: And Keith, W Keith Kellogg SO when you would see Kellogg corn flakes on the box what ended up happening is Keith discovered the flaking and
Meki: This would be really good if we could put some sugar on it.
Meki: Yeah. Still edible, duh duh duh…
Meki: Right it tastes better. And so the doctor so let’s say the doctor and the businessman The doctor was like NO! These must be sugar free. Don’t pollute people’s bodies with it! Um, and you should only be able to eat it, have these at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. His brother was like NO! Everybody should be able to have these. So the two of them actually parted ways over the sugar thing and they didn’t speak for several years. Um that was like the final um, that was the final nail in the coffin of their relationship. They did finally talk about business matters but this was later in life. Um but let’s get back to John Harvey Kellogg who was um the manager of the Sanitarium. He actually ended up adopting and fostering several children. And this is once again, he was a eugenicist, and I’m gonna tell you again when it comes to eugenicist, but many of the children that he fostered and adopted in excess of 30?
Meki: Yes it was more than 30 and he would take them from low-income um places around the country and an effort biologic living could change the life of anyone including these very low income children. He had black children, he had white children, he even had black and white people working and visiting the Sanitarium so it’s kind of odd to think about eugenicists doing this but he didn’t become a eugenicist until after he adopted um his son George Kellogg. George Kellogg was the son of a Chicago prostitute. John Harvey Kellogg sweeps in and adopts him but he was the one child that never could get with the program of biologic living. He wanted meat, he was very vocal about it. He was not neat. He didn’t live in the same kind of way that the rest of the Kellogg household lived. And so instead of Dr. Kellogg saying ok I have a rebellious child, what he decided was that some people just would never make fit offspring. Um and no matter what you did to try and elevate them to another status they couldn’t get there because their stock was inferior. And he also wrote about this. Actually you could go and Google some of his writings on Eugenics.
Meki: We’ll make a link to that.
Meki: Yeah. We’re gonna put a few of those of his Google books. And what he started, it was an organization called the Race Betterment Society and this was all predicated on his failed relationship with his little boy George who actually, you know, you would think maybe he was a little black boy. No! He was a little white boy, um, but he just decided that certain people shouldn’t have children. Poor people shouldn’t have children, uh immigrants shouldn’t have children, but the interesting thing is um was it Booker T Washington that had the Atlanta Compromise conversation? I believe it was Booker T, I should have had that, I believe it was Booker T Washington he actually invited to come speak at the San. Because he believed that we should have the separate and equal, a very very popular conversation about the Atlanta Compromise. Um, so yeah. Interesting things. He also among his famous people that were famous from all over the world come to the San. Um, another eugenicist JC Penney, was there. Amelia Earhart was a visitor, um Warren G. Harding was a visitor, uh the Rockefellers were there, um, also Sojourner Truth, who we’ll hear more about, was a visitor to the San, she came there uh about 6 months before she died. She was having ulcers in her leg because of what they suspect was diabetes and Kellogg actually did skin graphs on her legs with his own skin. Yes.
Meki: And sent her home, um, after little convalescent time and she never recovered. But it’s kind of interesting to hear about a eugenicist who would give a black woman his skin. Um so now
Meki: Well maybe that’s better than the other way around or something
Meki: *speaks low* I don’t know
Meki: Know what I mean?
Meki: I was still kind of flabbergasted to read about that. Like I said, this was a man of many conflicting and odd, odd wackadoo theories and everything but he, like I said, he was cutting edge, he invented a lot of surgical tools that we now use, um, in surgeries but getting on with the cereal war. One time Battle Creek was home to over 150 cereal companies. And one of the visitors to the San was um, Post. CW Post. He came there because he had dyspepsia. Um, it was 1903 and he had been eating cereal so interesting thing um, Kellogg tried to institute shredded wheat which was actually formulated in Colorado, to the San as a part of his biologic living. He looked at it as a meat substitute. And the people at the San would not eat it. They would NOT eat shredded wheat. Post came there eating grape nuts because there was an article in the newspaper about grape nuts being a remedy for appendicitis so instead of having an appendectomy you’d go and eat grape nuts long enough and it would cure you of appendicitis and you know that didn’t work.
Meki: So Post decides as a businessman he’s going to take a couple of these cereal recipes that he’s eaten at the San and give them to people under the name Postdom. And he started the Postdom Company. Uh of course this creates a lot of friction ‘cause he does it right under Kellogg’s nose there in Battle Creek, Michigan. And he then goes back to the San as a foil to Post, I mean as a foil to John Harvey Kellogg. Kellogg walking around in all white he shows up in all black he’s smoking, he blows smoke in Kellogg’s face, and he was like he whispers and says it loud enough “Dog!” In retort John Harvey Kellogg says “well you know what dogs to to posts”.
Meki: *Silence* OH! I, oh my gosh *laughing*
Meki: You know what dogs do to posts!
Meki: And he walked away. So it’s really interesting. He used to like to, you know, ‘cause biologic living and vegetarianism and the discipline was very difficult. They had a place called the um, the Purple Onion, which served steak *laughing* porterhouse steak and the people that were visiting there would sneak away and go and eat steak at this onion place, the Purple Onion place…
Meki: and Kellogg would go out there often and send spies so he could see which guests were going
Meki: And then he would have them take uh, he would have them take um steak and he would take a slide and show the guests in the dining room what bacteria was growing on the steaks
Meki: … that was rotting in their bowels.
Meki: My goodness
Meki: Um, he also would leave that steak out for overnight the next day so they could see what kind of basically fauna grew in addition to the flora and bacteria on that raw meat, to try and press upon them the dangers of eating flesh and putting flesh in your body.
Yes. So, as you can see Kellogg left an enduring legacy on American healthcare, um, uh, health food, vegetarianism, any number of things um, much of if you’ve ever used a foot massager or massaging chair, or tens system, that’s all Kellogg. Post for his part left an enduring legacy as well. Um, he had at an arboretum, which was gorgeous acres and acres of trees um, and carved sculptures are in the Post Arboretum which you can see coming into town. That’s another place that you may be willing to or may be interested in visiting on your visit to um, Battle Creek. I was extremely impressed with it.
Uh, they also have W Keith Kellogg, the younger Kellogg, established with his cereal money, foundation to take care of underprivileged children. Um, and that organization was one of the biggest philanthropies for children in the United States until the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation came about. So they definitely left their stamps whereas not only on Battle Creek but on America as a whole. Um, John Harvey Kellogg, the elder Kellogg uh really doesn’t isn’t as remembered um, for many of the contributions that he made because of his eccentricities. His brother because that cereal company took off, he is remembered.
Um, and because of his philanthropies he’s remembered. And he actually, eventually, went blind in later life and just before he died, well just before his brother died he wrote a letter apologizing for some of the things that he did to his younger brother and um Keith Kellogg, WK Kellogg, his assistants never read it to him because they didn’t wanna upset him. They didn’t want him to like, *sigh* they didn’t want him to sacrifice any of his dignity by going and giving his brother the time of day so they made that decision for him until about a few weeks before he died. Kind of deep and interest.
Meki: But as you can see much of the first day in um Battle Creek is actually um taken up with the um Battle Creek sanitarium and those things that were uh both John Harvey and W Keith’s contribution to Battle Creek and to the United States uh as a whole in American healthcare as a whole. But for our next episode we’ll be delving a little bit into uh the darker side so to speak the more pigmented side, let’s put it that way.
Meki: … of Battle Creek. Um, not only the health reformers but the freedom fighters. I will say that there’s one um, and I’m, we’ll give some info about this, the one enduring legacy, Cereal Town, USA closed last year. But that was a big interactive cereal um, museum that was there. That closed last year but once a year they have a festival in the spring that is the largest Breakfast Table in the world. And they Invite people to come and eat cereals.
Meki: Oh my gosh I’m so going next year
Meki: Yeah. It should be fun. That’s just one of the fun events. There are two other events that might draw you to Battle Creek but more about that next time.
Meki: On Wandering Blerds so for Wandering Blerds I’m Meki Tate, and I’m Meke Brown…?
Meki: Please join us next time for our second installment of uh Wandering Blerds where we’ll be heading back to Battle Creek, Michigan. This is Wandering Blerds brought to you by the Gifted Souls Network, produced by uh our lovely Producer Lance and…
Meki: … AKA Lance Solo
Meki: Lance Solo
Meki: AKA Papa Lance
Meki: Papa Lance
Meki: AKA the man who makes the world spin *Laughter*
Meki: He makes the world go round and round
Meki: Yeah pretty much.
Meki: So for all of you viewers who were waiting with bated breath for UM our next our next installment we thank you for joining us again.
Meki: Yes, thank you!
Meki: We hope that you join us for our next installation.