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Did you know that corn flakes were invented to prevent masturbation? Boy, did that fail

Posted October 4, 2019

Corn flakes is definitely one of the most popular breakfast meals in the world. As far as cereals go, this one is a classic. But did you know it was not intended to be tasty? In fact, it was invented specifically to be bland to help people suppress their desires.

Corn flakes – one of the most popular breakfast meals in the world. Image credit: Wikimedia

Unsurprisingly, it was Kellogg brothers who invented corn flakes. Or just any kind of grain flakes in general. But not on purpose. Doctor John Harvey Kellogg was working as a superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. He and his younger brother Will Keith Kellogg once were cooking boiled wheat, but for some reason had to go away to deal with some other pressing matter. When they returned, wheat was already stale. Brothers did not have a lot of money and so decided to process the wheat.

They squeezed the dough through some rollers, making a thin sheet of wheat. Except it wasn’t a sheet – it crumbled into flakes. Then Kelloggs roasted those flakes and served them to the patients. They were very surprised by the food and also considered it delicious. The next year, in 1885, Kellogg brothers filed a patent for  “Flaked Cereals and Process of Preparing Same”. It was granted in 1886 and brothers started making all kinds of cereals. The major innovation was, of course, corn flakes.

Advertisement for Kellogg’s Toasted Corn Flakes from 1910. Image credit: Wikimedia

Of course, there was a possibility to sell this food to common people and brothers started doing exactly that. Except that Will wanted to make cereals a little more palatable to a mass audience and mixed in some sugar into corn. Although people loved them, this led to a huge disagreement between brother. Why, you may ask?

Doctor John Harvey Kellogg was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and a loyal follower of Sylvester Graham. You’ve probably heard Graham’s name before – it is a type of crackers. Graham, who was an American Presbyterian minister and dietary reformer, was a proponent of bland food, because it reduces temptation and passions. Meaning – it does not distract you from God. Doctor Kellogg believed the same – he said his corn flakes can reduce masturbation and excessive sexual intercourse. Meanwhile sweet food does the opposite and that is why that sugar drove a wedge between two brothers.

On the other hand, Kellogg’s brand would not be so successful without sugar. Corn flakes would not be so popular either. People love sugary cereals, which is not great for their health. However, bland food does not do what Graham and Kellogg thought it does – most likely it has no effect on one’s sexual desires.

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