Corn Flakes Were Actually Invented To Curb Sexual Appetites

As you pour milk in your cereal bowl every morning, you might not even be fully awake yet, and you probably haven't thought much about the origins of corn flakes. After all, it's a pretty simple, unassuming cereal as far as the modern plethora of sugar-coated options go — some might even call them bland. But the question “Why were corn flakes invented?” actually leads to some shocking (and disturbing) answers.

Corn flakes were developed by John Harvey Kellogg and his brother WH Kellogg in 1894, not to satisfy grumbling morning tummies but to curb your sexual appetite. That's right: Kellogg was extremely anti-sex and anti-masturbation — allegedly, he never even consummated his own marriage. 

See, Kellogg took his cues from another snack inventor: Reverend Sylvester Graham, of graham cracker fame. Yes, these men created foods — still in wide circulation today — specifically designed to curb people’s prurient desires. Kellogg also proposed some pretty violent ways to suppress your sexual appetite. Let's look, then, at a short-history of your favorite the Puritanical origins of your breakfast foods. 


  • Kellogg Advocated Tying Up Children's Hands To Keep Them From Pleasuring Themselves
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Kellogg Advocated Tying Up Children's Hands To Keep Them From Pleasuring Themselves

    Kellogg created a variety of strange medical machines at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He invented everything from slapping machines (which is exactly what it sounds like) to machines that ran electric currents through your urethra. But he suggested some even more disturbing methods to keep children in particular from touching themselves. Kellogg wrote:

    “Bandaging the parts has been practiced with success. Tying the hands is also successful in some cases; but this will not always succeed, for they will often contrive to continue the habit in other ways, as by working the limbs, or lying upon the abdomen. Covering the organs with a cage has been practiced with entire success."

  • Kellogg Never Had Intercourse With His Wife
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Kellogg Never Had Intercourse With His Wife

    Since no in-depth analysis of Kellogg's profile exists, it's difficult to determine if he was a sexual sadist, or simply asexual. He thought sex, the very natural and only successful way to procreate, was “impure.”

    He and his wife, Ella Eaton, never consummated their marriage, and they slept in separate bedrooms for their relationship’s entirety. They raised their eight adopted children at Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium.

  • Kellogg Believed That Sugar And Spice Isn't Nice, But Would Lead You On A Path To Hell
    Photo: Bain News Service / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Kellogg Believed That Sugar And Spice Isn't Nice, But Would Lead You On A Path To Hell

    Kellogg steadfastly believed one’s diet greatly influenced their sexual appetites. He thought people should sustain themselves on a diet similar to a barn animal's, since they definitely never have any sex at all. Essentially, he thought eating meat would lead to beating your meat. Oh, and anything with any sort of spice or flavor would lead to immediate, intense horniness.

    “Tea and coffee have led thousands to perdition in this way. Candies, spices, cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, and all strong essences, powerfully excite the genital organs and lead to the same result,” Kellogg said. That’s why he decided to invent cornflakes — arguably the blandest, most tasteless thing this side of sucking on toilet paper. 

  • Kellogg Tacitly Supported Child Abuse And Mutilation
    Photo: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

    Kellogg Tacitly Supported Child Abuse And Mutilation

    Kellogg never had any children of his own, but ran a household of more than 40 adopted and foster children. He suggested in his books that to identify a child masturbator, you need to catch them in the act. This means storming into a child’s room unannounced, and ripping their clothes off them. For a male, you would see an obvious erection. For a female, you had to dig a little deeper, in the most insanely creepy way possible:

    “If the same course is pursued with girls, under the same circumstances, the clitoris will be found congested, with the other  genital organs, which will also be moist from increased secretion,” he wrote. He literally suggested parents inspect their daughters for a swollen clitoris. But he didn't limit his treatment suggestions for children to inspections. When it came to a so-called "desperate case," a 10-year-old girl, he went as far as to actually remove her clitoris and labia.

    “It finally became necessary to resort to a surgical operation, by which it is hoped that she was permanently cured, as we have heard nothing to the contrary since, and as the remedy seemed to be effectual,” he wrote, etching his place forever in our nightmares.

  • Kellogg Believed Women Touching Themselves During Pregnancy Created Future Perverts
    Photo: Kellogg Company / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Kellogg Believed Women Touching Themselves During Pregnancy Created Future Perverts

    One wonders if Kellogg ever read Freud, and what he thought about the development of the psychosexual stages. After all, the two figures were alive around the same time. However, they had extremely different views about how and why children would begin to touch their genitals at an early age. Kellogg believed a "vile masturbator" was formed in utero, because the mother touched herself or had intercourse during the pregnancy.

  • Kellogg Thought Dozens Of Ailments Were Caused By People Touching Themselves
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Kellogg Thought Dozens Of Ailments Were Caused By People Touching Themselves

    "Neither plague, nor war, nor small-pox have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism. Such a victim dies literally by his own hand,” Kellogg wrote. In his horrifying treatise Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life, he outlined 39 symptoms of masturbation.

    Some of these included acne, palpitations, epilepsy, and warts. Kellogg thought that speaking out against this and encouraging people to change their diets would help reign in people's predilection for self-lust, and contribute to a healthier and more spiritual climate.