Breakfast cereal, Utopia, and Eugenics


There is a strange connection between breakfast cereals, utopia, and eugenics.

Wikipedia writes about Ralstonism, which begot the Ralston Purina company, Chex cereal (now owned by General Mills), and whose successor company Ralcorp owns Post Cereal :

"Ralstonism was a minor social movement in 19th century USA. It claimed about 800,000 followers. Ralstonism was the brainchild of Webster Edgerly (1852 – 1926). In Edgerly's words, "Ralstonism is the grandest movement that man is capable of establishing". Ralstonism began as the Ralston Health Club, which published Edgerly's writings. It was a hierarchical organization where members were ranked according to the number of "degrees" they had, which ranged from 0 to 100. Members advanced five degrees at a time, and each Ralston book that a member purchased counted as five degrees. Although Edgerly claimed in the 1900 edition of The Book of General Membership of the Ralston Health Club that the letters for the word RALSTON came from Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen and Nature, earlier editions of the same book are credited to Everett Ralston, a pseudonym of Edgerly, with the implication that Ralstonism is named after this fictitious person. Edgerly saw his followers as the founding members of a new race, based on Caucasians, and free from "impurities". He advocated the castration of all "anti-racial" (non-Caucasian) males at birth."

John Harvey Kellogg

"... was an American medical doctor in Battle Creek, Michigan, who ran a sanitarium using holistic methods, with a particular focus on nutrition, enemas and exercise. Kellogg was an advocate of vegetarianism and is best known for the invention of the corn flakes breakfast cereal with his brother, Will Keith Kellogg He led in the establishment of the American Medical Missionary College. The College, founded in 1895, operated until 1910 when it merged with Illinois State University."

He founded the Battle Creek Sanitarium

"Battle Creek Sanitarium was world renowned and became the 'in' place for the rich and famous to seek their lost health, to listen to health lectures and to learn and practice the principles of a healthy lifestyle". "Kellogg was outspoken on his beliefs on race and segregation, though he himself adopted a number of black children. In 1906, together with Irving Fisher and Charles Davenport, Kellogg founded the Race Betterment Foundation, which became a major center of the new eugenics movement in America. Kellogg was in favor of racial segregation and believed that immigrants and non-whites would damage the gene pool."

Similarly C.W. Post

"Visited the Battle Creek Sanitarium operated by John Harvey Kellogg for his failing health. He was inspired to start his own cereal company based on the products used there."

Now for the tenuous transportation angle: Among the visitors to the Battle Creek Sanitarium were Richard Halliburton

" Best known today for having swum the length of the Panama Canal and paying the lowest toll in its history—thirty-six cents—Halliburton was headline news for most of his brief career. His final and fatal adventure, an attempt to sail a Chinese junk, the Sea Dragon, across the Pacific Ocean from Hong Kong to the Golden Gate International Exposition in San Francisco, made him legendary.",
Amelia Earhart and Henry Ford.

Chew on that as you eat your Wheaties (which as a General Mills product seems to be free of the Eugenics craze of the turn of the last century, and depicted Jesse Owens on its box in 1936, breaking the color barrier quite early).


Reminds me of the movie "The Road to Wellville", which was set in Kellogg's sanitarium.

i knew it all along. there was always something not quite right about Snap, Crackle, and Pop.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

Financing Transportation Networks

View David Levinson's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to RSS headline updates from:

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on August 18, 2011 7:00 AM.

The Undeath of Distance was the previous entry in this blog.

Techplan is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


Monthly Archives


Powered by Movable Type 4.31-en