Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

W.K. Kellogg

W.K. Kellogg

Laura Hamilton Waxman
For ages 7 to 10
Lerner Publications, 2006   ISBN: 978-0822565789

Willie Keith Kellogg grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan. As a child he help his family grow fruits and vegetables to sell, and he also helped out in the broom factory which his parents owned. Willie was a shy and quiet person and when he was just fourteen he left school to work as a traveling broom salesman. He decided to change his name from Willie to Will at this time.

He did so well and worked so hard that he was recruited to work in a broom factory in Dallas, Texas, but he did not care for the job and was back in Battle Creek in less than a year. Back in his hometown, in 1880, Will went to work for his brother who ran a sanitarium. While his brother, Dr. John Kellogg, took care of the patient's health, Will "took care of everything else." He had to work very hard for long hours and he got paid very little. It was a difficult time for Will and now that he was married and had children, he had a hard time making sure that his family did not want for anything.

In addition to all the work he did in the sanitarium, Will also worked in his brother's health food company. The doctor believed that eating healthy food was very important and his patients thrived on the recipes that he came up with. Unfortunately the foods he made did not taste very good. Together Dr. John and Will worked to find a way to make the food more palatable. Quite by accident they found a way to make a wheat-based food very tasty indeed – they turned them it into flakes.

Later Will found a way to make flakes from corn which he called cornflakes. To make them even more tasty Will added some sugar to the recipe which infuriated his brother. This was the last straw for Will who left his job and went off to form his own food company.

By the early 1900's Will had his own company and he was making Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes as fast as he could. He was a big believer in advertising and promotion and it was not long before many families were eating his cornflakes. By 1914 Will was truly the "King of Corn Flakes" and he opened a factory in Canada. By the 1930's he was doing so well that he established the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, an organization which gave money away to people in need. Will wanted to "help people help themselves."

Today millions of people around the world eat Kellogg's cereals. You can eat Rice Krispies in Athens, Frosted Flakes in London, and Fruit Loops in Delhi. However, far too few people know the story behind these beloved breakfast cereals. Now children can learn about how cornflakes came into being and how one man was able to make an enormous difference in the lives of thousands of children and their families around the world.

In addition to the interesting main text, the author also provides her readers with further information about W.K. Kellogg's work and his times. At the back of the book there is a timeline, information about the history of breakfast cereals, a "Further Reading" section, a list of websites to visit, and a bibliography.

This is one of the titles in the "History maker Bios" series.