Will Keith Kellogg

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Will Keith Kellogg
W. K. Kellogg, 1932.jpg
Kellogg in 1932
Born(1860-04-07)April 7, 1860
DiedOctober 6, 1951(1951-10-06) (aged 91)
Battle Creek, Michigan, U.S.
Resting placeOak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan[1]
Occupation(s)Industrialist, farmer
Known forFounder of Kellogg Company
Spouse(s)Ella Davis (m. 1880)
Carrie Staines Kellogg (m. 1918)
RelativesJohn Harvey Kellogg (brother)
W.K. Kellogg.png

William Keith Kellogg (April 7, 1860 – October 6, 1951) was an American industrialist in food manufacturing, best known as the founder of the Kellogg Company, which 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.[2][3] He also founded the Kellogg Arabian Ranch, which breeds Arabian horses. Kellogg was a philanthropist and started the Kellogg Foundation in 1934 with a $66-million donation.[4]

Early career[edit]

As a young businessman, Kellogg started out selling brooms in his hometown of Battle Creek, Michigan. In December 1878, W.K. Kellogg was hired by George H. King at the urging of James Springer White, also known as Elder White, to help run his new broom factory in Dallas, Texas.[5] W.K. returned home in November 1879 to help his brother John Harvey Kellogg manage 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. The Kellogg‘s family are of paternal English descent which can be traced to three brothers Daniel, Joseph and Samuel of Braintree, Essex, England who emigrated in the 1600s to Connecticut colony.[6]

John Kellogg described the Sanitarium system as "a composite physiologic method comprising hydrotherapy, phototherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy, mechanotherapy, dietetics, physical culture, cold-air cure, eugenics, and health training".[7]

The Kelloggs pioneered the process of making flaked cereal. Because of the commercial potential of the discovery, W.K. 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 W.K. to the extent that he left the sanitarium to create his own company.

Kellogg cereals[edit]

Together with his brother J.H. Kellogg, W.K. Kellogg promoted cereals, especially corn flakes (maize), 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, which later became the Kellogg Company.

In 1930, he established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, ultimately donating $66 million to it.[4] His company was one of the first to put nutrition labels on foods. He also offered the first inside-the-box prize for children.[8] 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.[9]

Arabian horse breeder[edit]

Kellogg and his Arabian horse Antez at Kellogg's former Arabian horse ranch (now Cal Poly Pomona)

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,[10] along with a Kellogg employee, Carl Raswan, who rode in certain scenes as Valentino's stunt double.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15]

Some of Kellogg's property near Battle Creek was donated to Michigan State College and is now the Kellogg Biological Station.


Will Keith Kellogg died at the age of 91 in Battle Creek, Michigan, on October 6, 1951, of circulatory illness.[16]

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.

The philanthropy of W. K. Kellogg is recognized as instrumental to the founding of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) and Kellogg College, Oxford.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Markel, Howard (August 8, 2017). The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307907288 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Will Keith Kellogg". www.nndb.com.
  3. ^ "Kellogg's Corn Flakes presented in Non Famous section". July 20, 2019. Archived from the original on July 20, 2019. Retrieved September 29, 2022.
  4. ^ a b "promomagazine.com". promomagazine.com. Archived from the original on February 8, 2012.
  5. ^ Powell, Horace B. The Original Has This Signature. OCLC 994687774.
  6. ^ "Famous Kellogg family visit Braintree to discover family history". September 22, 2018. Retrieved January 20, 2023.
  7. ^ Kellogg, J.H., M.D., Superintendent (1908). The Battle Creek Sanitarium System. History, Organisation, Methods. Michigan: Battle Creek. p. 13. Retrieved October 30, 2009. Full text at Internet Archive (archive.org)
  8. ^ Kellogg Company Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd Ed.
  9. ^ Hunnicutt, Benjamin Kline (1996). Kellogg's Six-Hour Day. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 1-56639-447-3. OCLC 33275999.
  10. ^ Roeder, Walter H. (Fall 1988). "Jadaan, The Sheik, and the Cereal Baron". The Cal Poly Scholar. University Library. 1: 99–103. Archived from the original on September 9, 2006.
  11. ^ Dudley, Aaron. "JADAAN: The Horse That Valentino Rode", The Western Horseman, Mar 1952 reprinted at Windt im Walt Farm, web site accessed April 5, 2010
  12. ^ Kirkman, Mary (2012). "Domestic Arabians". Arabian Horse Bloodlines. Arabian Horse Association. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
  13. ^ History of Cal Poly Pomona Archived 2008-04-26 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library Archived 2010-12-06 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Roeder, Walter H. (Fall 1989). "The W. K. Kellogg Airport". The Cal Poly Scholar. University Library. 2: 129–134. Retrieved March 15, 2012.
  16. ^ "W.K. Kellogg, 91, Dead in Michigan". New York Times. October 7, 1951.
  17. ^ The Philanthropy Hall of Fame, W.K. Kellogg


Further reading[edit]

  • Howard Markel (2018). The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek. Vintage. ISBN 978-0307948373.