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The Kelloggs : The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek
by Howard Markel


Overview - "What's more American than Corn Flakes?" --Bing Crosby

From the much admired medical historian ("Markel shows just how compelling the medical history can be"--Andrea Barrett) and author of An Anatomy of Addiction ("Absorbing, vivid"--Sherwin Nuland, The New York Times Book Review , front page)--the story of America's empire builders: John and Will Kellogg.  Read more...


 
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    The Kelloggs (Paperback)
    Published: 2018-07-01
    Publisher: Vintage
    $18.00
     
     
 
 

More About The Kelloggs by Howard Markel
 
 
 
Overview
"What's more American than Corn Flakes?" --Bing Crosby

From the much admired medical historian ("Markel shows just how compelling the medical history can be"--Andrea Barrett) and author of An Anatomy of Addiction ("Absorbing, vivid"--Sherwin Nuland, The New York Times Book Review, front page)--the story of America's empire builders: John and Will Kellogg.

John Harvey Kellogg was one of America's most beloved physicians; a best-selling author, lecturer, and health-magazine publisher; founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium; and patron saint of the pursuit of wellness. His youngest brother, Will, was the founder of the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, which revolutionized the mass production of food and what we eat for breakfast.

In The Kelloggs, Howard Markel tells the sweeping saga of these two extraordinary men, whose lifelong competition and enmity toward one another changed America's notion of health and wellness from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, and who helped change the course of American medicine, nutrition, wellness, and diet.

The Kelloggs were of Puritan stock, a family that came to the shores of New England in the mid-seventeenth century, that became one of the biggest in the county, and then renounced it all for the religious calling of Ellen Harmon White, a self-proclaimed prophetess, and James White, whose new Seventh-day Adventist theology was based on Christian principles and sound body, mind, and hygiene rules--Ellen called it "health reform."

The Whites groomed the young John Kellogg for a central role in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and sent him to America's finest Medical College. Kellogg's main medical focus--and America's number one malady: indigestion (Walt Whitman described it as "the great American evil").

Markel gives us the life and times of the Kellogg brothers of Battle Creek: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his world-famous Battle Creek Sanitarium medical center, spa, and grand hotel attracted thousands actively pursuing health and well-being. Among the guests: Mary Todd Lincoln, Amelia Earhart, Booker T. Washington, Johnny Weissmuller, Dale Carnegie, Sojourner Truth, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and George Bernard Shaw. And the presidents he advised: Taft, Harding, Hoover, and Roosevelt, with first lady Eleanor. The brothers Kellogg experimented on malt, wheat, and corn meal, and, tinkering with special ovens and toasting devices, came up with a ready-to-eat, easily digested cereal they called Corn Flakes.

As Markel chronicles the Kelloggs' fascinating, Magnificent Ambersons-like ascent into the pantheon of American industrialists, we see the vast changes in American social mores that took shape in diet, health, medicine, philanthropy, and food manufacturing during seven decades--changing the lives of millions and helping to shape our industrial age.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780307907271
  • ISBN-10: 0307907279
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish Date: August 2017
  • Page Count: 544
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Business & Economics > Entrepreneurship
Books > Biography & Autobiography > Medical - General
Books > Health & Fitness > Diet & Nutrition - Nutrition

 
BookPage Reviews

The contentious origin of a breakfast standard

Sibling rivalries are as old as . . . well, you know. But if you like them with some extra snap, crackle and pop, your best bet is Howard Markel’s story of brothers John and Will Kellogg, who put Battle Creek, Michigan, on the map in the first half of the 20th century. In The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, Markel tells their intertwined stories with a great deal of skill and flair, opening a window into both American societal history and the complications of familial relationships.

Born to a pioneer family in rural Michigan, the brothers ascended to the top of their chosen professions—medicine for John, business for Will. But with contrasting personalities and an eight-year age difference, they were at odds almost from the beginning—and certainly to the end. It makes for a sad family history, but entertaining reading.

John, interested in medicine from an early age, founded the famed Battle Creek Sanitarium, known as “The San,” which thousands of people flocked to, seeking relief from various ailments. Will, the younger of the two, bounced around a bit before finding his niche running the sanitarium—and, fatefully, helping John develop health foods, including a ready-to-eat cold cereal that would replace the hot mush most families consumed in those days. That’s where the fissure turned into a chasm, as Will went out on his own to found the Kellogg Company, today a multinational food behemoth. The sanitarium started going downhill during the Great Depression and eventually was converted into a federal center.

Markel, an NPR contributor and a physician himself, doesn’t take sides as he leads us through the family thicket, and there’s plenty of blame to go around, anyway.

 

This article was originally published in the August 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews