Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What is the history of your founder, William Keith (W. K.) Kellogg?

    W.K. Kellogg. The man's name, spoken or written almost a half-century after his death, is associated with entrepreneurship, creativity, vision and humanitarianism. However appropriate these words may be in describing the man, they probably would have been shunned by W. K. himself ... the developer of a worldwide cereal industry and an international Foundation that is dedicated to helping people solve societal problems.

    Born in Battle Creek, Michigan in 1860, Will Keith Kellogg was destined to become one of the 20th century's greatest innovators. While possessing extraordinary business acumen, W.K. was painfully shy ... but he had faith in the public's ability to know a good product when they saw it. He entered the cereal business at a time when the heavy, fat laden breakfasts of the past were no longer needed or desired by those heading toward our contemporary lifestyle.

    W.K. Kellogg was a man with a purpose ... to bring people the life-giving properties of grains in their most appetizing forms. He and his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, believed in and adhered to a food diet consisting largely of grains, nuts and fruits. At the Battle Creek Sanitarium (the San), where it was their job to provide patients with a nutritious diet, they experimented with corn, rice, wheat and oats to develop better tasting grain-based foods.

    One day in 1894, the brothers discovered the secret to making a flaked cereal, an idea they had been working on for some time. An interruption in their lab activities caused cooked wheat to be untended for more than a day. It was decided to proceed with the batch anyway, and when the wheat ran through rollers, the brothers were delighted to discover the rollers discharged flakes instead of the customary sheet of wheat. The extra time between cooking and rolling had made the difference. The tasty products quickly became popular among patients and many requested a supply of the foods after returning home.

    In 1906, the year of W.K.'s 46th birthday, he ventured from producing cereal products for patients at the San to opening his own company in an old, wooden frame building ... the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company ... now Kellogg Company. By then, word of the popularity of cereal products had spread and when W.K. first began production, 42 other cereal companies also existed in Battle Creek. To help consumers distinguish Kellogg cereals from other brands and identify the original, the packages were labeled with the words ...The Original Bears This Signature ... and W.K.'s signature appeared on each package.

    Although admitting, "I was green when I started the business," W.K. was an entrepreneur in every sense of the word, and his intuition for promoting and advertising his products was unparalleled. Courage proved to be one of his strongest assets. When Wall Street collapsed in 1929, W.K. shrugged confidently and doubled his advertising budget ... "This is the time to go out and spend more money in advertising." He was right. Certain that Americans would eat breakfast ... especially a breakfast of low-cost cereals ... W.K.'s company was scarcely affected by the Depression. Early on W.K. recognized the potential of international markets, and the 1920's found Kellogg cereals being exported to countries throughout the world, with manufacturing facilities built in Canada and Australia. "Wherever you find people, you'll find Kellogg's," W. K. was known to say.

    In 1909, W.K. wrote, "If I am successful in getting out of debt and becoming prosperous in my business affairs, I expect to make a good use of any wealth that may come to me." Even before his idea for the cereal company originated, W.K. Kellogg had established himself as a generous person, especially to those in need. Years later, when asked what he would do with his newly acquired wealth he replied, "I know what I'll do with it. I'll invest my money in people." His dream of helping others came true when the W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930 to "help people help themselves." Within a year, endowments totaling nearly $50 million were given for educational or charitable purposes. Through the years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been given to institutions serving health, education and agriculture.

    Meanwhile, under W.K.'s leadership, the Kellogg Company dealt responsibly and judiciously with its employees. During the Depression, W.K. added work shifts to his plant schedule so that more family men and women could be hired. President Herbert Hoover saw potential in the experiment for a nationwide program, and summoned W.K. to the White House for a discussion.

    Throughout his life, W.K. retained a firm grip over his company. In later years, he turned control over to a hand-picked group of businessmen, but he would not slow down his own pace. He continued to strive for the goals of his diversified interests almost as ardently as he had worked to build his company. However, in 1946, W.K. declined re-election to the Company's Board of Directors. The break was never complete, and the pioneer work ethic he had maintained throughout his life continued to rule him. On this 90th birthday, the Kellogg Company presented him with a 45-year pin, and W.K. responded with uncharacteristic tearfulness, "I don't deserve it. After all, I don't work here anymore." W.K. Kellogg's 91st year found him struggling with illness and then seeming to rebound. But, on October 6, 1951, he died very quietly and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, the city he had helped to make "The Cereal Capital of the World."

    • What is the history of Kellogg Company?

      Will Keith Kellogg (W.K.) began his cereal-making career in the 1890's when he assisted his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, in creating foods for the patients of The Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Through the brothers' experimentation with wheat, they happened upon a method for flattening wheat berries into small, thin flakes. When the flakes were baked, they became crisp and light, creating an easy to prepare breakfast when milk was added. The ready-to-eat cereal industry was formed!

      W. K. Kellogg saw the potential for offering this type of product to the public, and on February 19, 1906, he created the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company to mass-produce and market Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes®. His unique "corn flakes" with malt flavoring added distinguished his cereal from that of the competition. Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes® was an instant success and remains one of our most popular cereals to this day. The company was renamed Kellogg Company in 1922 and the company headquarters is still located in Battle Creek, Michigan, where it all began.

      Under W. K.'s leadership the company grew quickly, adding such classic products as Kellogg's® All-Bran® in 1916 and Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® in 1928. W. K. Kellogg was one of the first American entrepreneurs to recognize the potential of international markets. He moved Kellogg Company to an international business by selling Kellogg's Corn Flakes® in Canada in 1914 and building manufacturing facilities in Sydney, Australia in 1924 and in Manchester, England in 1938. Today, Kellogg is recognized by consumers in over 180 countries across the globe where we supply popular products like Kellogg's Frosted Flakes®, Kellogg's® Froot Loops®, Kellogg's® Rice Krispies®, Kellogg's® Pop-Tarts® Toaster Pastries, Kellogg's® Nutri-Grain® Cereal Bars, Kellogg's® Eggo® Waffles, and many more convenience and snacking foods products.

    • Do you offer plant tours?

      Tours of our manufacturing facility in Battle Creek, Michigan were offered to the public for many years. We still hear from people who recall with fondness driving to Battle Creek to tour our plant during a school trip or family outing. Such visits provided a great learning experience with the added excitement of receiving free samples of Kellogg products, or perhaps an ice cream sundae topped with Kellogg's® Froot Loops®. Special paper hats that were worn while touring the plant served as a memento to remember the visit.

      Unfortunately, for both safety and security reasons, we ended our plant tours in 1986.

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