Skip to Content

John Harvey Kellogg

« Back to Glossary Index

**1. Early Life and Education:**
John Harvey Kellogg was born in Tyrone, Michigan, on February 26, 1852.
– His father, John Preston Kellogg, was a Seventh-day Adventist.
– Kellogg briefly attended Battle Creek public schools before working in his father’s broom factory.
– He became a protégé of Ellen G. White and worked for her publications.
– Kellogg attended medical school at the University of Michigan and Bellevue Hospital Medical College.
– In 1876, he became the director of the Western Health Reform Institute.

**2. Career and Contributions at Battle Creek Sanitarium:**
– Kellogg became the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan.
– He treated rich and poor patients with holistic health approaches.
– Kellogg’s development of dry breakfast cereals revolutionized the cereal industry.
– He promoted vegetarianism, exercise, and other health reforms.
– Kellogg’s work laid the foundation for modern health and wellness practices.

**3. Theological Views and Controversies:**
– Kellogg’s theological views were influenced by his Seventh-day Adventist upbringing.
– Conflicts over theology led to a major schism within the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
– Despite disagreements, Kellogg continued to follow many Adventist beliefs throughout his life.
– Kellogg rejected Christian fundamentalism and promoted theological modernism.
– He faced tensions over his theological beliefs, including the Pantheism Crisis of 1903.

**4. Inventions and Health Beliefs:**
– Kellogg developed and marketed vegetarian foods suitable for invalid diets.
– He invented the first breakfast cereal, Granula, in 1877.
– Kellogg believed in promoting a vegetarian diet and exercise for health.
– He advocated for using enemas seeded with favorable bacteria for intestinal health.
– Kellogg’s health beliefs emphasized the connection between diet and overall well-being.

**5. Legacy, Business Ventures, and Impact:**
– Kellogg’s work in health reform and medical education left a lasting impact.
– The Kellogg Company, founded by Will Kellogg after a feud with John, remains a major player in the food industry.
– Kellogg’s development of tempering was fundamental to the flaked cereal industry.
– His health principles influenced wellness movements and the American breakfast.
– Kellogg’s influence on nutrition and health is still felt today, with the company supporting education and health research.

John Harvey Kellogg (February 26, 1852 – December 14, 1943) was an American businessman, inventor, physician, and advocate of the Progressive Movement. He was the director of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, founded by members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. It combined aspects of a European spa, a hydrotherapy institution, a hospital and high-class hotel. Kellogg treated the rich and famous, as well as the poor who could not afford other hospitals. According to Encyclopædia Britannica, his "development of dry breakfast cereals was largely responsible for the creation of the flaked-cereal industry."

John Harvey Kellogg
Kellogg c. 1915
Born(1852-02-26)February 26, 1852
DiedDecember 14, 1943(1943-12-14) (aged 91)
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Physician, nutritionist
Known for
(m. 1879; died 1920)
RelativesWill Keith Kellogg (brother)

An early proponent of the germ theory of disease, Kellogg was well ahead of his time in relating intestinal flora and the presence of bacteria in the intestines to health and disease. The sanitarium approached treatment in a holistic manner, actively promoting vegetarianism, nutrition, the use of yogurt enemas to clear "intestinal flora", exercise, sun-bathing, and hydrotherapy, as well as the abstention from smoking tobacco, drinking alcoholic beverages, and sexual activity. Kellogg dedicated the last 30 years of his life to promoting eugenics and segregation. Kellogg was a major leader in progressive health reform, particularly in the second phase of the clean living movement. He wrote extensively on science and health. His approach to "biologic living" combined scientific knowledge with Adventist beliefs, promoting health reform, and temperance. Many of the vegetarian foods that Kellogg developed and offered his patients were publicly marketed: Kellogg's brother, Will Keith Kellogg, is best known today for the invention of the breakfast cereal corn flakes.

Kellogg held liberal theological beliefs radically different from mainstream Nicene Christianity and emphasized what he saw as the importance of human reason over many aspects of traditional doctrinal authority. He strongly rejected fundamentalist and conservative notions of original sin, human depravity, and the atonement of Jesus, viewing the last in terms of "his exemplary life" on Earth rather than death. Becoming a Seventh-day Adventist as their beliefs shifted towards Trinitarianism during the 1890s, Adventists were "unable to accommodate the essentially liberal understanding of Christianity" exhibited by Kellogg, viewing his theology as pantheistic and unorthodox. Disagreements with other members of the SDA led to a major schism: he was disfellowshipped in 1907, but continued to follow many of their beliefs and directed the sanitarium until his death. Kellogg helped to establish the American Medical Missionary College in 1895. Popular misconceptions have wrongly attributed various cultural practices, inventions, and historical events to Kellogg.

« Back to Glossary Index