A Peculiar Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Ad 1907

Selling Cereal At The Turn Of The Century

Ad Corn Flakes 1907 Burr McIntosh

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.”

5 thoughts on “A Peculiar Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Ad 1907

  1. Shirley hagner

    I have a large advertisement of kellogg’s ‘Wins its Favor through its Flavor’ ‘The Sweet Heart of the Corn’ framed picture 29 1/2″ x 39 1/2″ (not including the frame). The girl in my picture looks different than this girl was looking for so information on picture as to age and girl’s name if anyone can help me out, I would greatly appreciate it. Do not know how to send picture on this suite. My email is Shirleyhagner@yahoo.com if you could please email me so I can send you a picture. Would love to know if either of your grandmother

    {Photo added May 20 by editor at SNCA – thanks to Shirley for sending}

    Kelloogg's poster

  2. Cynthia Smith

    My great grandfather Gustave Liebscher also painted a beautiful ‘Sweetheart of the Corn’ for the campaign. We have the original images, and at one point Kellogg reproduced his work on a widely distributed vintage version of the box of corn flakes, but we no longer have those. Any info would be appreciated ! Thanks so much…

  3. Margee Lavoie

    The original “Sweetheart of the Corn” was Lilly Peterson, my grandmother. Her brother, Carl Antone, painted the portrait of her that was sold to Mr. Kellogg.

    1. Cynthia Smith

      Hello Ms Lavoie,

      As previously posted, I am a great granddaughter of Gustave Liebscher (1870-1953) who was a prolific commercial artist that also painted a ‘Sweetheart of the Corn’. My family is curious to know if you have a copy of the original image you referred to as painted by your great uncle. I am asking because we always thought our grandfather was the original artist of that image! Would love to know more…thanks so much!


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