Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Marketable Flake

The Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company was founded by Will Keith Kellogg on February 19, 1906. There are those who believe the invention of Corn Flakes by W. K. Kellogg changed the way we eat breakfast forever. There were those who would disagreed...

The Kellogg Company was started in 1906, after W.K. parted ways with his brother, John Harvey Kellogg (who didn’t see the market potential of breakfast cereal). But success didn’t come easy. On July 4th, 1907, the first Kellogg plant burned to the ground. With the ruins still smoking, W.K. rushed an architect to the scene and began designing a new, fireproof plant. As always, this shy man was immensely confident in the rightness of his cause. (source)
W.K. Kellogg was an aggressive marketer of his products. His goal was to change the consumer's view of breakfast food by overwhelming them with a new world of "flaked cereal." Competition was tough. When Kellogg formed his company in 1906, there were more than forty other companies producing cold "ready to eat" cereal. For instance, C.W. Post had founded the Postum Cereal Co. in 1895, which he first started by producing a coffee substitute called Postum Food Coffee. Eventually he added Grape-Nuts (containing neither grapes nor nuts) and Elijah's Manna (re-named Post Toasties) and in 1899 he established the Battle Creek Box Company to package his foods.
Through advertising, Will Kellogg's genius shined. By 1911, the company branded with his name on every cereal box, had an annual budget of $1 million dollars for advertising alone. A portion of that money was used to light up the the roof of the Mecca Building in Time Square with the electric lights on the roof and a K which stood six feet tall. Molly Wade McGrath shares in the history of Kellogg's in her book, Top Sellers USA first published in 1983.
...When the factory doors opened for W.K. Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906, there were forty-two cereal companies registered in the Battle Creek area, more than the total number of employees at the original Sanitas Food Plant. W. K.'s company became the leader among the few survivors of the early competition. To guard against any possible confusion, W. K. had his name printed on every package of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, in W. K. own handwriting style, with the explanation, "The original bears this signature."
In Horace B. Powell's biography of Kellogg published in 1956, he had this to say about Kellogg's mass marketing approach.
Mr. Kellogg appreciated the power of the new force that was beginning to be used by progressive businessmen—the force of consumer advertising. Visualizing his foods on breakfast tables in millions of homes, he knew that the entrée to these homes was chiefly through advertising.
One of Kellogg's most ambitious campaigns was launched in New York City on June 5, 1907 when W. K. ran ads in all the major New York City newspapers. "Wednesday is 'Wink Day" promised every housewife in the city who winked at her grocer on Wednesday that she would receive a free box of Corn Flakes. It was a Huge success! It convinced New Yorker's to try cold cereal at home. And, you know what they say, "if you can make it in the big Apple, you can make it Anywhere! It has been reported, that from two trainloads of cereal being delivered to the Big Apple per month, the increase went to more than 30 trainloads.
In 1910, Kellogg offered the very first cereal premium: Funny Jungleland™ Moving Pictures Book. It was available with the purchase of two packages of Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes. The offer continued for twenty-three years! I'm very fortunate to have a copy of the 1932 edition of the booklet in my personal collection.
I took a hop over to the Kelloggs website to see if I could find and earlier edition and look what I found!
Not only is there a terrific timeline at the website, there's also a gallery of Kellogg's advertisements that this girl finds Very Cool! Here's just one!
There are many vintage Kellogg's advertisements at the Topher's Breakfast Cereal Character Guide website. There's even a "shot" of Mrs. Tony--the wife of Tony the Tiger! On National Cereal Day in March, I'll share some Corn Flake recipes with you. For now would you mind very much if I just showed off my book? No. Good!
I don't know if you can tell from the picture but if you look real close you can see the lines which represent where the reader can change the characters by "moving" the tab to a different page.
To make things a whole lot easier, I'm just separating them the way the book falls:)
I hope you've enjoyed today's post. I must admit, it was one of my favorites!
FYI: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were so popular at one point that the brothers ran an Apology ad asking customers to "stop buying and give your neighbor a chance." It made orders pile up even faster.
(source PDF)
revised February 2013


  1. Now, who would ever have guessed the back story behind my morning cereal?

  2. I am not surprised that people were so crazy about corn flakes - I love them! :)

  3. I must admit T.W. Corn flakes with bananas are good. However, IMHO Frosted Flakes with bananas are BETTER!

    Don't we all Lidian. I've been switching between oats and corn for months now. Naaaay...

  4. Interesting to know the story about Kellog.

  5. Thanks for dropping by Selba. I'm off to visit you!

  6. I fear that if I winked at my grocer I would get more than a box of corn flakes. And he's not too cute ;)

  7. Thanks for stopping by--here are two more of the same kind.

    Cranberry Crisp Coffee Cake

    Frosted Flakes give this simple cake a fun crunch.

    1 1/2 C. Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes cereal, crushed to 3/4 C.
    1 Tbs. margarine or butter, melted
    1 1/2 C. all purpose flour
    2 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 C. margarine or butter, softened
    3/4 C. sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 C. milk
    1 C. whole cranberry sauce

    Mix crushed cereal with melted 1 Tbs. margarine. Set aside. Stir
    together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. Beat the 1/4 C.
    margarine, the sugar and egg until well blended. Add milk alternately
    with flour mixture, mixing until smooth. Spread batter in greased 9
    inch round cake pan. Top evenly with cranberry sauce. Sprinkle with
    cereal mixture. Bake at 350 degrees about 50 minutes. Serve warm or

    Yield: 8 servings
    _ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
    Cherry Pie Jello

    1 lg. box black cherry Jello
    1 1/2 c. water
    1 can cherry pie filling
    1 (12 oz.) can Coke

    Mix water and pie filling in saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add
    Jello. Mix well. Pour into serving bowl. Cooled before Jello set, add
    1 can of Coke. Chill until firm

    I can't understand why people hardly ever use Jell-o anymore

  8. Hi Maryann,
    LOL, I can't imagine women winking in those days, they had almost a Victorian mind set.

    Now, if it were my butcher, I may reconsider:)

    How sweet of you to drop off these recipes P-Dot. Thanks so much...

  9. Hi Louise,
    I love the vintage touch on your blog.

    I will have to stop back and see what you do with National Chili Day!

  10. Hi Mary,
    Thanks for stopping by. Please do visit again. I'll be celebrating Chili Day the 28th.

  11. Isn't it amazing how advertising affects everything we do? It's kind of scary, actually.

  12. Yes Duckie,
    Advertising makes the world go round and round and round. Not necessarily on its axis...

  13. Still one of my favorite cereals!It all about advertising and marketing.

  14. I'm a Frosted Flakes gal myself, Glamah...

  15. “stop buying and give your neighbor a chance.”

    Now that's one of marketing's smartest ploys! ;)

  16. Dennis,
    Marketing puts a new "spin" to the words you are what you eat...you are what you view:)


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