Will Keith Kellogg
Will Keith Kellogg
Will Keith Kellogg, c. 1897
Will Keith Kellogg
April 7, 1860
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||October 6, 1951 (aged 91)|
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
|Resting place||Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.|
|Spouse(s)||Ella Davis (1858–1912), m. 1880 |
Carrie Staines Kellogg (1867–1948) m. 1918
|Relatives||John Harvey Kellogg – brother; Martin Kellogg – half-brother|
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Will Keith Kellogg, generally referred to as W.K. Kellogg (April 7, 1860 – October 6, 1951), was an American industrialist in food manufacturing, best known as the founder of the Kellogg Company, which to this day produces a wide variety of popular breakfast cereals. He was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and practiced vegetarianism as a dietary principle taught by his church. Later, he founded the Kellogg Arabian Ranch and made it into a renowned establishment for the breeding of Arabian horses. Kellogg started the Kellogg Foundation in 1934 with $66 million in Kellogg company stock and investments, a donation that would be worth over a billion dollars in today's economy. Kellogg continued to be a major philanthropist throughout his life.
As a young businessman, Kellogg started out selling brooms, before moving to Battle Creek, Michigan, to help his brother John Harvey Kellogg run the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The Sanitarium, originally the Western Health Reform Institute, was part of a pioneering effort based on the health principles advocated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. John Kellogg described the Sanitarium system as "a composite physiologic method comprising hydrotherapy, phototherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy, mechanotherapy, dietetics, physical culture, cold-air cure, and health training". The Kelloggs pioneered the process of making flaked cereal. Because of the commercial potential of the discovery, Will wanted it kept a secret. However, John allowed anyone in the sanitarium to observe the flaking process and one sanitarium guest, C. W. Post, copied the process to start his own company. That company became Post Cereals and later General Foods, the source of Post's first million dollars. This upset Will to the extent that he left the sanitarium to create his own company.
With the help of his brother John, Will Kellogg promoted cereals, especially corn flakes, as a healthy breakfast food. They started the Sanitas Food Company around 1897, focusing on the production of their whole-grain cereals. At the time, the standard breakfast for the well-off was eggs and meat, while the poor ate porridge, farina, gruel and other boiled grains. The brothers eventually argued over the addition of sugar to their product. In 1906, Will founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, later becoming the Kellogg Company.
In 1930, he established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, ultimately donating $66 million to it. His company was one of the first to put nutrition labels on foods. He also offered the first inside-the-box prize for children. Kellogg said, "I will invest my money in people."
During the Great Depression, Kellogg directed his cereal plant to work four shifts, each lasting six hours. This gave more people in Battle Creek the opportunity to work during that time.
Arabian horse breeder
Kellogg had a longtime interest in Arabian horses. In 1925, he purchased 377 acres (153 hectares) for $250,000 in Pomona, California, to establish an Arabian horse ranch. Starting with breeding stock descended from the imports of Homer Davenport and W.R. Brown, Kellogg then looked to England, where he purchased a significant number of horses from the Crabbet Arabian Stud, making multiple importations during the 1920s. The Kellogg ranch became well known in southern California not only for its horse breeding program but also for its entertaining, weekly horse exhibitions, open to the public and frequently visited by assorted Hollywood celebrities. Among many other connections to Hollywood, the actor Rudolph Valentino borrowed the Kellogg stallion "Jadaan" for his 1926 movie Son of the Sheik, along with a Kellogg employee, Carl Raswan, who rode in certain scenes as Valentino's stunt double.
In 1932, Kellogg donated the ranch, which had grown to 750 acres (304 hectares), to the University of California. In 1933, the ranch obtained some of the horses sold in the dispersal of Brown's Maynesboro stud. During World War II, the ranch was taken over by the U.S. War Department and was known as the Pomona Quartermaster Depot (Remount).
In 1948, the ranch was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and in 1949, the land was deeded to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Later in 1949, title to the then 813-acre (329-hectare) ranch and horses was passed to the State of California, with the provision that the herd of Arabian horses must be maintained. The ranch became part of the Voorhis unit of what was then known as the California Polytechnic State College in San Luis Obispo. This became known as the Kellogg Campus, and in 1966, it was separated to form California State Polytechnic College, Kellogg-Voorhis.
The ranch was also the location of the W.K. Kellogg Airport (not to be confused with the airport of the same name in Battle Creek, Michigan). It operated from 1928 to 1932, and was then the largest privately owned airport in the country.
Will Keith Kellogg died at the age of 91 in Battle Creek, Michigan, on October 6, 1951, of heart failure.
Kellogg outlived most of his children but was survived by two of them, Karl Hugh (d. 1955) and Elizabeth Ann (d. 1966), as well as grandson Norman Williamson, Jr. (d. 2001) and Will Keith Kellogg II (d. 2005).
The Kellogg Foundation quotes W.K. as follows:
It is my hope that the property that kind Providence has brought me may be helpful to many others, and that I may be found a faithful steward.
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- "W.K. Kellogg, 91, Dead in Michigan. Breakfast Food Manufacturer Set Up Multi-Million Dollar Welfare Foundation in '30". New York Times. Associated Press. October 7, 1951.
Will Keith Kellogg, founder of the breakfast cereal company that bears his name, died here today in Leila Hospital. The pioneer cereal manufacturer, known to millions by his breakfast food trade mark initials – W.K. – succumbed at the age of 91 after a long circulatory illness.
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