Corn Flakes Were Created to Prevent Masturbation
John Harvey Kellogg did not like sex. A Seventh-day Adventist since he was twelve years old, his distaste for procreation went far beyond even his religion's conservative stance. By all accounts, Kellogg abstained from the act his entire life, even through 41 years of marriage! He and his wife Ella slept in different rooms, and adopted all eight of their children.
Kellogg bore an even greater resentment towards masturbation, which he called the "solitary vice." As a prominent surgeon, speaker, and writer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he was in a solid position to make war on it.
Through books, speeches, and as chief medical officer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a wildly popular holistic health resort that attracted celebrities, presidents, and business moguls to its doors, Kellogg relentlessly lectured on the evils and risks of masturbation. Masturbation, he argued, led to impotence, urinary diseases, insanity, poor posture, acne, epilepsy, and blindness, as well as a preponderance of other infirmities.
As Kellogg wrote in his book Plain Facts for Old and Young, to avoid the temptation of masturbation one must weary of "sexual precocity, idleness, pernicious literature, abnormal sexual passions, exciting and irritating food, gluttony, sedentary employment, libidinous pictures, and many abnormal conditions of life..."
Kellogg particularly urged purity in diet.
"A man that lives on pork, fine-flour bread, rich pies and cakes, and condiments, drinks tea and coffee and uses tobacco, might as well try to fly as to be chaste in thought," he wrote.
Kellogg advocated against eating "spices, pepper, ginger, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, essences, all condiments, salt, pickles... fish, fowl, oysters, eggs, and milk."
"Stimulating drinks should be abstained from with still greater strictness," he added. "Wine, beer, tea, and coffee should be taken under no circumstances."
Partly to help his followers and patients stick to their bland, unstimulating diets, Kellogg and his brother invented corn flakes in 1878. For nearly twenty years, corn flakes were only available at Battle Creek, until the Kellogg brothers started the Sanitas Food Company and began to sell their cereal to the general public. Compared to the porridge and gruel commonly eaten around breakfast tables at the time, the crispy flakes were a hit, though they almost certainly didn't help to curb masturbation.
Today, of course, scientists agree that masturbation does lots of good, and little to no harm. It improves immune functioning, alleviates depression, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer, among many other benefits.
Despite Kellogg's quackery when it came to masturbation, as well as a few other pseudoscientific practices he recommended, he actually was far ahead of his time on some important healthy lifestyle issues. He contended that smoking caused lung cancer decades before the risks were conclusively known and recommended regular exercise. During an age where hypocrisy and corruption were rife among public figures, Kellogg practiced precisely what he preached, living his salubrious lifestyle to the ripe old age of 91.
(Image: Public Domain)