Mainstream usually starts on the fringes.
John Harvey Kellogg was born on this day in 1852 in Tyrone, Michigan, but his family soon moved to Battle Creek, where he grew up, became a Seventh-day Adventist, and served as chief medical officer of a sanitarium run by the church. The sanitarium was half health resort and half Betty Ford clinic, known around the world as a place where the rich and famous could come to seek lost health, and learn and practice the principles of a healthy lifestyle. The place could host 400 guests, and treat as many as a thousand people at any given time.
Kellogg’s religious beliefs in the merits of clean living and self-denial led to a variety of novel practices. An electric light bath was created to administer phototherapy. Nauheim baths were proscribed (taking a dip in seltzer water). Cold and hot compresses were used in many permutations, from cold mitten frictions, to warm wet and dry packings. Kellogg saved his greatest passion for his patients’ bowels, devising enemas and laxatives to ensure that toxins were expelled and “protective germs” were planted. The breakfasts of his day were not particularly conducive to these efforts — eggs and meat for the rich, and boiled grains for the poor — so he and his brother embraced the idea of eating whole grain cereals instead, and started a company in 1897 to produce them. He’d eventually split with his brother, who thought there’d be a bigger market for the cereal if it contained sugar, and the company would go on to become the Kellogg Company.
A former employee named Post would found its greatest commercial rival.