Why Were Cornflakes Invented?

Sure, there are folks who love to start their day with savory eggs, crispy bacon, and buttery toast. But for every one of them there’s someone that’s content with a bowl of mush. That mush can be oatmeal, bran, or one of dozens of flavorless cold cereals. The poster child for plain cereal is cornflakes. Now, there are some wild rumors all over the internet as to why cornflakes were invented. Were they really supposed to control people’s urges? Is there any truth there? Why were cornflakes made, exactly? Who invented cornflakes? Let’s settle this once and for all and discover the answer to the question: Why were cornflakes invented?!

Why were cornflakes invented? 

Every few months, social media accounts dedicated to history and weird facts will come out and say that cornflakes were made to promote chastity. Or, to put it more bluntly: Cornflakes were made as an anti-masturbatory aid. Seriously? Is that why cornflakes were invented? That sounds so wild that it must be true, right? 

There’s actually more to it than that. The fact-finding website Snopes shoots down the anti-masturbation theory, stating that was never the express purpose of cornflakes. However, based on the history of the cereal inventors and their wild theories, it is pretty safe to say that cornflakes were made to be a bland cereal and bland cereal was thought to curb “impure” thoughts. 

Who invented cornflakes?

Cornflakes were invented by William Keith Kellogg, the founder of Kellogg’s, for use at his brother, John Harvey Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. The brothers would eventually have a lengthy battle over who truly invented the cereal. 

If you’re a fan of weird, obscure ‘90s movies starring Anthonie Hopkins and Matthew Broderick, then you may remember the Battle Creek Sanitarium from The Road to Wellville. Here’s a quick recap: This sanitarium sucked. The Kellogg brothers were both members of a strict Seventh-day Adventist Church. They were vegetarians and obsessed with health, cleanliness, and purity. The Battle Creek Sanitarium was like a combination spa, resort, and institution where John Harvey Kellogg could put his theories into practice.

At the Battle Creek Sanitarium, guests were fed a vegetarian diet and subjected to hydrotherapy, including enemas, electrotherapy, and physical training, among other therapeutic methods. John Harvey Kellogg pushed ideas of abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and sex. He promoted circumcision so as to discourage self-pleasure, as well as painful devices applied to private areas. Kellogg also suggested that a plain, bland diet could discourage masturbation. 

The sanitarium promoted this bland diet at every meal and experimented with its food. There were multiple bland breakfast cereals. On one occasion, someone left out a wheat-based cereal dough, causing it to ferment. When it was rolled out and baked, the flakes had a nice crisp. From there, the Kelloggs tweaked the recipe with a corn-based dough, and eventually even added sugar. Cornflakes survive to this day. Although most people just eat it to stop their stomachs from grumbling.

About the Author

Will Morgan

Will Morgan, a freelance contributor to Sporked, is an L.A. based writer, actor, and sketch comedy guy. Originally from Houston, TX, he strongly believes in the superiority of breakfast tacos to breakfast burritos. Will traveled the world as one of those people that did yoyo shows at elementary school assemblies, always making a point to find local and regional foods to explore in whatever place he was, even in rinky-dink towns like Tilsonberg, ON. Will spends his birthdays at Benihana’s. Let him know if can make it.

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