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Will Keith Kellogg

Will Keith Kellogg
File:WkPortrait 01.jpg
Will Keith Kellogg
Born Template:Birth-date
  1. REDIRECT Template:end-date (age 91)
Nationality American

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.[1][2][3] Later, he founded the Kellogg Arabian Ranch and made it into a renowned establishment for breeding of Arabian horses.


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 was part of a pioneering effort by the Seventh-day Adventist church to attempt to make modern, commercial cereal foods based on grains. Together they 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 Kellogg 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, and 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 $60 million to it. His company was one of the first to put nutrition labels on foods. He also offered the first premium[4] for children inside the box. 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.[5]

Arabian horse breeder

Kellogg had a long 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 Hollywood celebrities. 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.[6]

In 1932, Kellogg donated the ranch, which had grown to 750 acres (3 km²), to the University of California system. 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 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 separated to form California State Polytechnic College Pomona (now California State Polytechnic University, Pomona).[7][8]

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.


Will Keith Kellogg died in Battle Creek, MI, at 3:00 p.m., on October 6, 1951, of heart failure.[9] He was 91 years old.


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.



  1. Will Keith Kellogg NNDB
  2. Kellogg, Will Keith - Overview, Personal life, Chronology: will keith kellogg, Career details, Social and economic impact Online 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
  3. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Newsfinder
  4. Kellogg Company Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd Ed.
  5. Will Keith Kellogg Entrepreneur
  6. Roeder, Walter H. "Jadaan, The Sheik, and the Cereal Baron" Originally published in The Cal Poly Scholar, vol. 1, (fall 1988) p. 99-103
  7. History of Cal Poly Pomona
  8. W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library
  9. "W.K. Kellogg, 91, Dead in Michigan. Breakfast Food Manufacturer Set Up Multi-Million Dollar Welfare Foundation in '30". Associated Press in New York Times. October 7, 1951, Sunday. "Will Keith Kellogg, founder of the breakfast cereal company that bears his name, died here today in Leila Hospital. The pioneer cereal manufacturer, known to millions by his breakfast food trade mark initials -- W.K. --succumbed at the age of 91 after a long circulatory illness." 

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