Oftentimes, breakfast is regarded as the most important meal of the day. As such, the best way to begin the day is by finding a meal that will fuel you without slowing you down. By the turn of the 20th century, Americans began trading in heartier meals for lighter alternatives such as cereal.
Yet while cereals improved digestion, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg believed that the popular breakfast dish had more potential. According to History.com, Dr. Kellogg, inventor of corn flakes, believed bland foods like his products would prevent Americans from masturbating.
Saving America With Bland Food
Due to poor diets, the health of the nation was in a poor state. According to Forbes, Lowell Dyson wrote about food preferences in the nineteenth-century, and noted that “Americans wanted meat, meat, meat. And potatoes. And cake and pie.” Heartier breakfasts had led to an unending national discussion of indigestion or “dyspepsia.”
Kellogg came up with corn flakes as a response to a nation’s need for simpler foods. But as a Seventh Day Adventist, he was also preoccupied with masturbation, which he felt was linked to a host of health issues, and how that can pose a significant threat.
In response to the digestive crisis, Dr. Kellogg sparked a health movement that was dubbed “biological living.” He operated a health spa with his brother, William Kellogg, where they treated diverse ailments with new ideas and foods.
Corn flakes were one of those foods. Developed in the 1890s, corn flakes were hailed for their ability to bring the body back to a healthier natural state, similar to the paleo or organic food trends of today.
Curing Tummy Troubles (And Masturbation) With Cereal
Dr. Kellogg praised bland foods, including cereal, in a variety of writings. According to him, Americans tend to eat “with the feeble stomach of a primate” seemingly all food, including “artificial foods.” Therefore, he concluded, “it is no wonder that the human gastric machine has broken down, and that dyspepsia, constipation, and peristaltic woes of various description have become universal in civilized lands.”
Kellogg also believed that unpure diets resulted in lustful thoughts alongside indigestion woes. “Highly seasoned [meats], stimulating sauces… and dainty tidbits in endless variety,” Kellogg explained, “irritate [the] nerves and… react upon the sexual organs.” Kellogg was certain that his corn flakes would not only soothe the stomach but also save Americans from sin.
To compete with competitors, William Kellogg suggested adding sugar to their recipe as cereal grew increasingly popular. However, it defied Kellogg’s ideals to add sugar, corrupting his philosophy on health. Nevertheless, sugar would ultimately win, and cereal companies would stop emphasizing health-conscious messages and instead focus on the convenience of their products.
Despite some trendy diets today echoing Dr. Kellogg’s views on health, thankfully none have embraced his wacky views on dieting and sexuality.