A Historical Overview



Will Keith (W.K.) Kellogg, was born April 7, 1860. W.K., along with his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, was the co-inventor of flaked cereal. Although W.K. lacked a formal education beyond the sixth grade, the cereal giant forever changed the way we eat breakfast. In 1906, W.K. Kellogg entered the cereal business, as American eating habits began shifting from heavy, fat-laden breakfasts to lighter, more grain-based meals. W.K. discovered that a better flake was produced by using only the corn grit or "sweet heart of the corn." To help consumers distinguish Kellogg's Corn Flakes® cereal from the products of the 42 other cereal companies in Battle Creek, Michigan, W.K. put his signature on each package, saying that these Corn Flakes are the "The Original." The company succeeded because it believed the entire populace, not just those on special diets, might be interested in wholesome cereal foods, and because it continually improved its product line and packaging techniques to meet the needs of an ever-changing and evolving consumer base.


With the advent of pasteurization of milk, the ready-to-eat cereal business expanded. To keep up with a growing market, Kellogg Company developed new product, packaging and marketing innovations to fit consumer needs. In 1914, Kellogg Company created Waxtite® wrappers, a new concept in packaging technology. W.K. Kellogg believed that if people tried a good product, they would keep buying it. To ensure that consumers would continue to seek out his products, he distributed free samples of his Corn Flakes, and then followed up with advertising in magazines and on billboards. Kellogg also held a children's art contest, selecting the best entries for use in Kellogg advertisements. The first Kellogg premium, the "Funny Jungleland Moving Picture Book," was distributed to consumers in 1910. Kellogg's® Bran Flakes and All Bran® cereals were introduced in 1915 and 1916. After having success in the U.S. market, Kellogg opened its first foreign cereal facility in 1914 in Canada.


Kellogg continued to expand into new markets, exporting cereal to England in the early 1920s and later building a plant in Sydney, Australia. In the U.S., Kellogg introduced ready-to-eat cereals in individual servings for use in hospitals, hotels and rail dining cars. The 1920s also brought new marketing innovations. A mail-in promotion made Battle Creek, Michigan a household word when millions of youngsters clipped and mailed in Kellogg's® boxtops for "Stuff-Yourself Nursery Rhyme Rag Dolls." Kellogg also established one of the first home economics departments in the food industry in 1923, the same year that Kellogg's® Pep™ wheat flakes was introduced. The famous Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® began talking to consumers in 1927.


W.K. Kellogg made an unprecedented move as the United States sank into the Great Depression. Instead of cutting back, he doubled his advertising spending - and Kellogg cereal sales increased. In response to the hard times created by the Depression, Mr. Kellogg reduced the hours of the three plant shifts and created a fourth shift, spreading the payroll among more workers. Others earned their paychecks by developing a 10-acre park on the Battle Creek plant grounds. Declaring "I'll invest my money in people," in 1930, Mr. Kellogg founded the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He also continued to invest resources into developing the nutritional quality of Kellogg's products. Kellogg expansion continued with a new plant in Manchester, England. Kellogg's® Pep™, became the first cereal fortified with vitamins through the "spray" method. Kellogg also brought new partnerships by sponsoring "The Singing Lady - Irene Wicker," the nation's first radio network program for children, and the "Howie Wing" radio show, based on the adventures of a young aviator. Adm. Richard E. Byrd's expedition to the South Pole was equipped with a two-year supply of Kellogg cereals.


In support of the American war effort during World War II, Kellogg provided packaged K-rations for the U.S. armed forces and Kellogg engineering personnel used the company machine shop to manufacture parts for the "Manhattan" atomic bomb project in 1945. As a result of the company's many efforts during WWII, Kellogg was awarded the Army-Navy "E" flag for excellence. Kellogg's® Rice Krispies® Marshmallow Treats ® recipe, first advertised in 1940, became a popular food for mailing to service people abroad. Despite the war, Kellogg launched new whole-grain product lines like Kellogg's Raisin Bran® in 1942 and opened the company's second U.S. plant in Nebraska.


On October 6, 1951, Kellogg Company's legendary founder, W.K. Kellogg, died at the age of 91. His body lay in state for three days in the main lobby of the company office building so that hundreds of workers and Battle Creek residents could pay their respects. Throughout the 1950s the company introduced some of today's most beloved cereals including: Kellogg's® Corn Pops®, Kellogg's Frosted Flakes®, Kellogg's® Honey Smacks™, Kellogg's® Cocoa Krispies™ and Kellogg's® Special K®, which was the first high-protein breakfast cereal ever offered to consumers. Cereal icon, Tony the Tiger® also made his first appearance in the 1950s and became an instant hit as the spokescharacter for Kellogg's Frosted Flakes®. In 1956, a Battle Creek tradition was started when more than 32,000 people sat down together at "the world's longest breakfast table" in Battle Creek, Michigan to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary. Renowned artist Norman Rockwell produced a series of illustrations for the company featuring six children and Santa Claus. For Kellogg, the 1950s also meant national expansion into California and Tennessee, as well as internationally into Mexico and New Zealand.


For Kellogg Company, the 1960s were marked by a wide range of new product introductions. There were five new cereals: Kellogg's Froot Loops®, Kellogg's Apple Jacks®, Kellogg's Frosted Mini-Wheats®, Kellogg's Bran Buds® and Kellogg's Product 19®, as well as Kellogg's Pop-Tarts® toaster pastries and Kellogg's® Croutettes™ croutons. Kellogg's Product 19® was the first 100-percent fortified cereal created for consumers. Kellogg also enjoyed extensive global expansion, opening facilities in South America, Canada, Scandinavia, Europe and Asia. Kellogg even went into outer space, as part of the Apollo 11 space crew's breakfast during their historic mission to the moon in 1969. A growing interest in nutrition led to the expansion of the company's already broad consumer nutrition information programs.


Kellogg Company responded to America's renewed awareness of the importance of nutrition and fitness. The company published its nutrition policy, outlining its fortification practices and commitments to nutrition, responsible advertising and consumer education. Kellogg became the first cereal company to voluntarily list the amount of sugar in its cereals on the side panel of its packages. This was the strongest decade of growth in the history of ready-to-eat cereal consumption. New cereals included Kellogg's® Frosted Krispies® and Cracklin' Oat Bran®. Kellogg entered the frozen foods business when Fearn International and its line of Eggo® brand frozen waffles joined the company. Kellogg also acquired Mrs. Smith's Pie Company and Pure Packed Foods. Company expansion continued in Central America, Great Britain and Spain.


New cereal products of the 1980s including Kellogg's® Squares™ line, Kellogg's® Crispix® and Kellogg's® Just Right®, would remain consumer favorites into the next century. Science-based groups affirmed the importance of grain in the diet, enabling Kellogg to make health claims, particularly for high-fiber cereals such as Kellogg's® All-Bran®. The company built advanced-technology cereal plants in Battle Creek and London, Ontario. It also opened a new plant in South Korea and improved its manufacturing capabilities around the world. In 1986, Kellogg Company's new headquarters opened in downtown Battle Creek. True to its tradition of social responsibility, Kellogg strongly supported the United Negro College Fund, the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island renewal and the fight against apartheid in South Africa.


In the 1990s, as consumers purchased "On the Go" foods like never before, convenience foods grew as a percentage of Kellogg's sales. Kellogg's® Rice Krispies Treats® squares and Kellogg's® Nutri-Grain® bars won broad consumer acceptance. Kellogg's® Pop-Tarts® toaster pastries became the company's top-selling product. In the cereal category, the 1990s were the company's most difficult decade, amid unprecedented branded and private-label competition in the U.S. and increased competition overseas. Still, Kellogg remained the global cereal leader and opened its first plants in India, China, Thailand and Latvia. A second Mexican plant was added thanks to very strong growth in that market. In 1997, Kellogg made a significant step forward in its food science research activities by opening the $75 million W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Battle Creek. In 1999, Kellogg acquired Worthington Foods, the top producer of soy-based meat alternatives.


Kellogg has generated strong upward momentum in the new century based on growing the dollar - rather than volume - sales of its cereal products, expanding its convenience foods businesses and pursuing profitable growth. In 2001, Kellogg completed the largest acquisition in its history, the $4.56 billion purchase of Keebler Foods Company, a leading producer of cookies and crackers. Cereal, once Kellogg Company's only product line, now represented 53 percent of its worldwide sales, with 32 percent coming from snacks and the remaining 15 percent from other grain-based foods. Kellogg also has benefited from the acquisition of health foods leader Kashi Company, the multi-country success of products such as Kellogg's® Special K Red Berries cereal and a relentless focus on superior day-to-day execution of its product development and marketing initiatives.

Kellogg Company celebrated its 100th Anniversary in 2006, and looks forward to carrying forward the legacy of the company's founder, W.K. Kellogg, by continuing to provide consumers with great-tasting, high-quality foods and programs that help promote health and well-being.

2007 kicked off two years of additions to Kellogg Company's portfolio. Kellogg purchased Gardenburger, maker of a variety of vegetarian and vegan products and meat substitutes. The acquisition of Bear Naked, maker of premium all-natural and organic granolas, hot cereals and trail mixes, was an addition to the company's Kashi business. In 2008, the company announced the purchase of Russia's largest cracker, biscuit and cereal producer - The United Bakers Group - marketed primarily under the Yantar and Lyubyatovo brand names. In China, Kellogg acquired Zhenghang Food Company Ltd. (Navigable Foods), which produces and markets cookies and crackers in the north and northeastern regions of China. In the United States, Kellogg acquired the assets of IndyBake Products LLC and Brownie Products Co., a privately held contract-manufacturing business that produces cracker, cookie and frozen dough products. Kellogg also acquired the trademarks and recipes of the Mother's Cake & Cookie Co., a regional brand in the western United States.

During 2009, Kellogg Company released its first global Corporate Responsibility Report. At the company's Annual Meeting of Shareowners, the company announced it would make a then unprecedented donation of an entire day's worth of cereal to Feeding America. The donation of 3.5 million pounds of cereal, worth approximately $10 million, amounted to more than 55 million cereal servings. A dedication ceremony was held for the expansion of the W.K. Kellogg Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, the epicenter for Kellogg's global product development, research and innovation was held. The $54 million, 157,000-square-foot pilot plant and office space expansion demonstrates Kellogg Company's ongoing commitment to growth and building powerhouse brands.


In 2010, United Way recognized Kellogg Company with the Spirit of America Award - its highest honor for overall community efforts. Kellogg is the first Michigan-based company to win the award, which recognizes the variety of ways Kellogg Company and its employees and retirees continue to invest in the communities where they work and live. President and CEO David Mackay joined First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America to announce a new industry-wide pledge to reduce 1.5 trillion calories by the end of 2015. The pledge was made by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation, a coalition of more than 100 retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, and nongovernmental, and other organizations and individuals committed to help fight the obesity epidemic.