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 Will Keith Kellogg

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Will Keith Kellogg

  • Birth 7 Apr 1860 Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan, USA
  • Death 6 Oct 1951 Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan, USA
  • Burial Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan, USA
  • Memorial ID 570

Business Entrepreneur. Inventor of corn flakes, he founded the Kellogg Cereal Company and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Born in Battle Creek, Michigan, he was the younger son of John Preston Kellogg and Ann Janette Stanley Kellogg. Just before he was born in 1860, the family moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, where his father, John Preston Kellogg, established a broom factory. Growing up, he left school after the sixth grade, and began working as a stock boy in his father's broom factory, which he would later attribute as the source of his work ethic. As a young man, he obtained work from his brother, John Harvey Kellogg, working as a bookkeeper in his brother's Sanitarium, and later, became the manager of the Sanitarium. There he also assisted his brother in research to improve the vegetarian diet of their patients, and in 1894, Will accidentally discovered what would become wheat flakes, when he left a pot of boiled wheat to overcook. When the wheat was put through a rolling process, it emerged as a large, thin flake, which quickly became a favorite breakfast cereal among the patients. As patients rotated in and out of the sanitarium, they would write back for shipments of the brothers' wheat flakes, and Will quickly set up a small company, filling the requests for the flakes. Shortly afterwards, Will substituted corn for wheat, and the new cereal became an overnight success. In 1897, Will and his brother, John, started the Sanitas Food Company, to meet the demand for their cereals, but nine years later, when Will wanted to add sugar to the flakes, he and his brother parted ways. Will began his own company, the W. K. Kellogg Company, to produce the new cereal, while John kept the Sanitas Food Company. To avoid confusion with other company's cereals, Will had his signature posted on the top front of the box, so that people would know it was his cereal they were buying. By using good economics, a sense of the market place, and hard work, the W. K. Kellogg Company continued to grow, even during the Great Depression. Although he soon became a millionaire, Will never felt comfortable being rich, and continued to live a modest lifestyle, living in a two-story stucco house in Battle Creek. His only splurge of spending was on Arabian horses, and in 1925, he established a 377-acre horse ranch in Pomona, California. It was here at his Pomona Ranch that he would entertain Hollywood movie stars and other celebrities. During the Great Depression, Kellogg invested much of his wealth into helping people, becoming the first to put nutrition labels on the foods he produced, and changing his plant to work four shifts, which enabled more people to be put to work. In 1932, he donated his horse ranch to the University of California, which eventually used the land to start the California State Polytechnic College in San Louis Obispo; the ranch land buildings eventually became the Kellogg campus. Fearing that his children would become lazy or dependent upon inherited wealth and would forget the importance of hard work, Kellogg gave away much of his money to charity. In 1934, he established the Kellogg Foundation, donating more than $66 million to it. Much of his money was spent to help others in his hometown of Battle Creek, and during the 1930s, he built a school for handicapped children, a civic auditorium, a junior high school and youth recreation center. In 1930, President Herbert Hoover named him to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection. Kellogg would continue working at his Foundation for the next twenty years, until his death of heart failure at age 91.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 570
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Will Keith Kellogg (7 Apr 1860–6 Oct 1951), Find A Grave Memorial no. 570, citing Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .