Selling Cereal At The Turn Of The Century
The company was only one year old in 1907 when this advertisement appeared in print.
This advertisement was supposed to sell you on buying Kellogg’s Toasted Corn Flakes. By just looking at the ad you are probably not quite sure what the image means. Not “boy gets girl,” but “corn gets girl”? Maybe she has a case of lachanophilia?
There is an explanation.
Company founder Will Keith Kellogg (April 7, 1860 – October 6, 1951) made himself, his cereals and the city of Battle Creek, Michigan famous. Kellogg did this by producing a better breakfast product and a lot of advertising.
W.K. Kellogg’s education never went beyond the sixth grade, yet with his strange brother Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (he advocated sexual mutilation and eugenics among other things), they figured out how to make a tasty corn flake. In producing their cereal they used only the corn grit or “the sweet heart of the corn.”
In the spring of 1907 a salesman from the Ketterlinus Lithographing Company of Philadelphia met with W.K. Kellogg and showed him the drawing of a smiling young woman in a gingham dress holding a sheaf of corn. Kellogg purchased the drawing, which would be called “Sweetheart of the Corn”
I wonder how many people understood from the ad that Kellogg’s were using the “corn grit” for their cereal from the play on words of sweetheart?
To distinguish themselves from the other 42 cereal companies in Battle Creek, Kellogg had his signature imprinted on every package of Corn Flakes saying these are “The Original.”