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 cornflakes 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 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."
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 adopted and raised their eight children at Kellogg's Battle Creek Sanitarium.
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 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.