Waking up to Corn Flakes

Corn flakes are a breakfast cereal originally manufactured by Kellogg’s.

Corn (Zea), known to much of the world as maize, is a cereal grainCereal grains are member of the grass plant family, Poaceae, along with bamboowild rice (Zizania), wheat (Triticum), rice (Oryza),  oats (Avena), barley (Hordeum), millet (Echinochloa) and rye (Secale). Their starchy seeds are used for food.

Corn was domesticated by indigenous peoples in Central America as much as 80,000 years ago.

The first modern commercial breakfast cereals were created by the American Seventh-day Adventists. The Adventists formed the Western Health Reform Institute in the 1860s. The Institute was later renamed the Battle Creek Sanitarium after its location in Battle Creek, Michigan. The Adventists manufactured, promoted, and sold whole-grain cereals.

Doctor John Harvey Kellogg, the superintendent of The Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan and an Adventist, was trying to improve the diet of hospital patients. (He also believed that spicy and sweet foods increased passions, and passion, sex, and especially masturbation were all bad things that had to be “cured.”) He was searching for a digestible bread substitute using the process of boiling wheat. Kellogg accidentally left a pot of boiled wheat to stand and the wheat became tempered (softened). When Kellogg rolled the tempered or softened wheat and let it dry, each grain of wheat emerged as a large thin flake. The flakes turned out to be a tasty cereal. On May 31, 1884, John Harvey Kellogg filed for patent for “flaked cereals and process of preparing same.” Patent #558,393 was issued on April 14, 1896.

Dr. Harvey’s brother, Will Keith (W.K.) Kellogg, kept experimenting until he flaked corn in 1898, and invented corn flakes.

The Kellogs formed the Sanitas Food Company. At first, they sold their products mainly by mail order to their ex-patients, but then began advertising in newspapers and on billboards.

W.K. Kellogg founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company in 1906. He added sugar to the flakes to make them more palatable to a mass audience, a move that his brother did not approve. W.K. Kellogg spent heavily on advertising, including a campaign telling consumers to “wink at your grocer and see what you get.” What they got was a free sample of W.K.’s corn flakes. The campaign increased sales by a factor of fifteen in New York City. In 1909, W.K. added a special offer, the Funny Jungleland Moving Pictures Booklet, to anyone who bought two boxes of the cereal. This same premium was offered for 22 years.

A former patient of the Battle Creek Sanitarium named C. W. Post started a rival company, as well as the major other brand of corn flakes in the United States, called Post Toasties. Many other brands of corn flakes were produced by various manufacturers. More than 40 cereal companies opened in the United States in the early 20th century.

The Kellogg brothers fought over the Kellogg name, which they both used. In 1911, W.K. succeeded in a lawsuit to gain exclusive use of the Kellogg name in the United States. In 1914, corn flakes were introduced to Canada, and W.K.’s exclusive use of the Kellogg name extended to international markets after a legal battle that lasted from 1916-21. W.K.’s company was the Kellogg Cereal Company from 1922.

Kellogg family friend Nansi Richards, a harpist from Wales, suggested that the mascot for Kellogg’s corn flakes should be a rooster or cockerel. The Welsh word for cockerel is ceiliog (pronounced “kelog”). Kellogg’s introduced a green cockerel named Cornelius (Corny) Rooster as the long-time mascot of corn flakes.

The good: Corn flakes are widely available, so if you are traveling, corn flakes might be one of the healthier breakfast items available. They are also fortified with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

The bad: In the US, some commercial brands of corn flakes contain high-fructose corn syrup, a controversial and unnecessary ingredient. Nearly all contain sugar.

The ugly: Many brands of commercial corn flakes  also contain vitamin D3, which is usually made from lanolin (sheep oil), so it is not vegan.

The alternative: You might want to substitute an organic, vegan breakfast cereal like Nature’s Path Organic Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes. It’s not fortified, but you can get your vitamin B12 from fortified soy milk or a supplement, and you can get your vitamin D from sunshine or a supplement.

Kellogs Corn Flakes contain: Milled corn, sugar, malt flavor, contains 2% or less of salt. BHT added to packaging for freshness. Vitamins and Minerals: Iron, vitamin C (sodium ascorbate, ascorbic acid), niacinamide, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B1 (thiamin hydrochloride), vitamin A palmitate, folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B12.

Nature’s Path Organic Fruit Juice Sweetened Corn Flakes contains the following ingredients: Organic corn meal and/or organic yellow corn flour, organic grape and/or pear juice concentrate, and sea salt.

Nutrients in 1 Cup (28 Grams) Corn Flakes Cereal, fortified

Nutrient Amount DV
iron 5.4 mg 30%
folate 100 µg 25%
niacin 5 mg 25%
vitamin B12 1.5 µg 25%
vitamin B6 0.5 mg 25%
riboflavin 0.4 mg 25%
thiamine 0.4 mg 25%
vitamin A 751 IU 15%
sodium 266 mg 11%
vitamin D 40 IU 10%
carbohydrates 24.3 g 8%
vitamin C 5.9 mg 6.6%
Calories 101 5%
fiber 1.3 g 5%
protein 1.9 g 4%
selenium 1.4 µg 2%
potassium 32.8 mg 1%
phosphorus 14.6 mg 1%
magnesium 4.5 mg 1%
calcium 0.8 mg < 1%
fat 0.11 g < 1%
vitamin E 0.1 mg < 1%
vitamin K 0.1 µg < 1%
zinc 0.1 mg 1%
pantothenic acid 0.064 mg < 1%
copper 0.055 mg < 1%
manganese 0.047 mg 1%
cholesterol 0 mg 0%

Just make sure to eat your corn flakes cereal with a plant-based milk, like soy, rice, hemp, almond, cashew, or oat milk.


This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

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