W.K. Kellogg

3 0

“Dollars have never been known to produce character, and character will never be produced by money. I’ll invest my money in people.”


Will Keith Kellogg, generally referred to as W.K. Kellogg (April 7, 1860 – October 6, 1951), was an American industrialist in food manufacturing, best known as the founder of the Kellogg Company, which to this day produces a wide variety of popular breakfast cereals. He was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and practiced vegetarianism as a dietary principle taught by his church.[2][3][4] Later, he founded the Kellogg Arabian Ranch and made it into a renowned establishment for the breeding of Arabian horses. Kellogg started the Kellogg Foundation in 1934 with $66 million in Kellogg company stock and investments, a donation that would be worth over a billion dollars in today’s economy. Kellogg continued to be a major philanthropist throughout his life.[5]

Early career

As a young businessman, Kellogg started out selling brooms, before moving to Battle Creek, Michigan, to help his brother John Harvey Kellogg run the Battle Creek Sanitarium. The Sanitarium, originally the Western Health Reform Institute, was part of a pioneering effort based on the health principles advocated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Kellogg described the Sanitarium system as “a composite physiologic method comprising hydrotherapy, phototherapy, thermotherapy, electrotherapy, mechanotherapy, dietetics, physical culture, cold-air cure, and health training”.[6] The Kelloggs pioneered the process of making flaked cereal. Because of the commercial potential of the discovery, Will wanted it kept a secret. John, however, allowed anyone in the sanitarium to observe the flaking process and one sanitarium guest, C. W. Post, copied the process to start his own company. The company became Post Cereals and later General Foods, the source of Post’s first million dollars. This upset Will to the extent that he left the sanitarium to create his own company.

Kellogg cereals

With the help of his brother John, Will Kellogg promoted cereals, especially corn flakes, as a healthy breakfast food. They started the Sanitas Food Company around 1897, focusing on the production of their whole grain cereals. At the time, the standard breakfast for the well-off was eggs and meat, while the poor ate porridge, farina, gruel and other boiled grains. The brothers eventually argued over the addition of sugar to their product. In 1906, Will founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, later becoming the Kellogg Company.

In 1930, he established the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, ultimately donating $66 million to it.[5] His company was one of the first to put nutrition labels on foods. He also offered the first inside-the-box prize for children.[7]Kellogg said, “I will invest my money in people.”

During the Great Depression, Kellogg directed his cereal plant to work four shifts, each lasting six hours. This gave more people in Battle Creek the opportunity to work during that time.[8]

Arabian horse breeder

W.K. Kellogg and his Arabian horse Antezat Kellogg’s former Arabian horse ranch (nowCal Poly Pomona).

Kellogg had a longtime interest in Arabian horses. In 1925, he purchased 377 acres (1.5 km2) for $250,000 in Pomona, California, to establish an Arabian horse ranch. Starting with breeding stock descended from the imports of Homer Davenport and W.R. Brown, Kellogg then looked to England, where he purchased a significant number of horses from the Crabbet Arabian Stud, making multiple importations during the 1920s. The Kellogg ranch became well known in southern California not only for its horse breeding program but also for its entertaining, weekly horse exhibitions, open to the public and frequently visited by assorted Hollywoodcelebrities. Among many other connections to Hollywood, the actor Rudolph Valentino borrowed the Kellogg stallion, “Jadaan,” for use in his 1926 movie, Son of the Sheik,[9] along with a Kellogg employee, Carl Raswan, who rode in certain scenes as Valentino’s stunt double.[10]

In 1932, Kellogg donated the ranch, which had grown to 750 acres (3 km²), to the University of California. During World War II, the ranch was taken over by the U.S. War Department and was known as the Pomona Quartermaster Depot (Remount). In 1933, the ranch obtained some of the horses sold in the dispersal of Brown’s Maynesboro stud.[11]

In 1948, the ranch was transferred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture; and in 1949, the land was deeded to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. Later in 1949, title to the then 813-acre (3.3 km2) ranch and horses was passed to the State of California, with the provision that the herd of Arabian horses must be maintained. The ranch became part of the Voorhis unit of what was then known as the California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo. This became known as the Kellogg Campus, and in 1966, it was separated to form California State Polytechnic College Pomona (now California State Polytechnic University, Pomona).[12][13]

The ranch was also the location of the W.K. Kellogg Airport (not to be confused with the W. K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek, Michigan). It operated from 1928 to 1932, and was then the largest privately owned airport in the country.[14]

Some of Kellogg’s property near Battle Creek, Michigan, was donated to Michigan State College (later known as Michigan State University) and is now the Kellogg Biological Station.


The Kellogg Foundation quotes W.K. as follows:

It is my hope that the property that kind Providence has brought me may be helpful to many others, and that I may be found a faithful steward.

The philanthropy of W. K. Kellogg is recognized as instrumental to the founding of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona) and Kellogg College, Oxford.[16]


This profile is partly adapted from a Wikipedia entry on W.W. Kellogg, available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.