Feb 212013

What IS Right With America? The American Dream

The American Dream. One of the most amazing things about our country is that each of us can define the dream and work to achieve it. We each have our own version of the dream. We all have separate roads to travel toward the dream. Here is the story of one man’s journey. A young man named Will sold brooms. He traveled to Michigan to help his brother John run John’s sanitarium in Battle Creek. The sanitarium was somewhat of a health spa. John and Will were Seventh Day Adventists, and they sought to teach others about the benefit of being vegetarians. They developed a process at the sanitarium which created a flaked type of whole grain cereal. The process was developed when Will accidentally tempered a pot of boiled wheat. The flakes that were produced from that spoiled batch were well received by the guests.

But the brothers did not share the same dream. Guests wanted to buy the flakes after they left the sanitarium. Will grasped the potential of his discovery, and he convinced John to sell the cereal by mail. . They founded the Sanitarium Food Company. Will wanted to keep the process a secret, protect the secret, and form a company selling cereals. John wanted to share the process with all the guests at the sanitarium so that they could enjoy improved health. The brothers again disagreed when Will wanted to add sugar to the cereals. On February 19, 1906, Will decided to follow his own dream. Although Will, later known as W.K. Kellogg, only had an elementary school level of education, he founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company. The brothers each sold the toasted corn flakes through their respective companies. John continued to sell cereal that he felt would provide optimal health. Will wanted the product to taste because that would increase sales. Will won the right to use the name Kellogg Company in court in 1922, but he was not allowed to refer to it as “Toasted Corn Flakes.” Of course, he chose a simpler name for his product which we are all familiar with today. His company began selling internationally in 1924, introduced Rice Krispies in 1928, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today we hear an incessant drum beat about successful people being greedy and unconcerned about those less fortunate. Here is an example that flies in the face of that characterization. Not only was Kellogg known for his business sense, but he was a philanthropist as well. He revised his company’s work schedule so that more of the local community could be employed during the Great Depression. He lived modestly and lived in the home shown in the attached photo.. He donated sixty-six million dollars to the Kellogg Foundation. He encouraged his sons to become “conscientious and truthful men” and chose not to pass along his large estate to them. He donated 750 acres that eventually became California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo. He donated property in Michigan that is now known as the Kellogg Biological Station. He was also contributory in the founding of Kellogg College, Oxford and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. He gave millions of dollars to other causes such as the Ann J. Kellogg School for handicapped children. He contributed funds for a youth center, a civic auditorium, and a school in Battle Creek.

As a side note, the Kellogg Company was not the only business that was established as a result of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. One of the guests who observed the flaking process was C.W. Post. He founded a company which eventually became known as General Foods based upon the same flaked type of cereal.


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