Saturday, August 25, 2012

Breakfast at Battle Creek

 Since the early days of my nutrition training at the University of Arkansas, the name "Kellogg" has been in the forefront, in terms of leading the food science industry in the use of nutrition labeling of food products, nutrition research, and nutrition education.  So when I had the opportunity to be traveling through Michigan a while back, I made it a point to arrange my trip so that I could have breakfast in the city known as the "Breakfast Capital of the World".  ( )   On the automobile trip to get to Battle Creek from Arkansas, I had plenty of opportunities to see "future Kelloggs products" (such as wheat, barley, rice, oats, etc) growing in the fields.  But of course, the easiest food crop to recognize is corn---mile after mile after mile---of corn fields!  My mind begin to give the tall stalks human characteristics:  Were they dreaming of growing up to be corn flakes? or perhaps, high fructose corn syrup? or perhaps, biofuel to run the automobiles produced nearby? or perhaps, gracing a dinner table as "corn on the cob"? or put into a can, to be served years later?
 Once you arrive in Battle Creek, you will see there are lots of  names on their map that include the word "Kellogg".  While making the long drive to this city, I listened  to an audio book called Road to Wellville, written in 1993 by T.C. Boyle (It was also been made into a movie in 1994).  Although the book is fictional, its characters bear the names of familiar folks of early Battle Creek Sanitarium patients and staff.  Listening to the stories made the drive go by faster, and provided many a chuckle along the way!
 Thankfully, the world headquarters of the Kellogg Company are still located in Battle Creek, Michigan, where flaked cereal was invented (by accident!) in 1894
 Flaked cereal was the result of work being done at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, by two brothers:  Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, and Will Keith (W.K.) Kellogg.  One day, after cooking wheat at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, the men were called away.  Since the wheat was rather stale when they returned, the brothers decided to see what would happen when cooked wheat was forced through the kitchen's dough rollers.  Instead of the usual long sheet of dough, each wheat berry was flattened into a small, thick flake.  When the flakes were baked, they became crisp and light, creating an easy to prepare breakfast, when milk was added.  The ready-to-eat cereal was formed!
 John Harvey Kellogg was a medical doctor, and was the Superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium (nicknamed "The San").  The San offered its rich and famous patients a regimen of exercise and fresh air, plus a strict diet that prohibited caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and meat.  Younger brother, W.K. Kellogg, was the business manager of the facility and in charge of the small business to produce cereal for former San patients.  However, W.K. Kellogg had dreams of his own, and after developing the process for flaking corn in 1898, he went on to found the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company, to mass-produce and market, Kellogg's Toasted Corn Flakes.  The company was renamed Kellogg Company in 1922.
 The Great Depression saw the demise of the Battle Creek Sanitarium.  Its site was later purchased by the U.S. Army in 1942.  The hospital specialized in neurosurgery, plastic surgery and the fitting of artificial limbs.  Approximately 100,000 military patients were treated there during the next eleven years.
 This photo shows the relationship of the 14-story "Tower" to the original buildings of the Sanitarium. 
 One of the patients treated at this hospital was Senator Bob Dole.  That is one of the reasons, the current facility goes by the name "Hart-Dole-Nouye Federal Center".
 These massive columns support the front facade of the current Federal Center.  You might think of them as "bars", because as soon as I stepped onto the porch of the facility, I was greeted by a very polite security guard, who told me they were very cautious of visitors getting too close to this federally-protected building. 
 The security guard allowed me to take a few photographs of the covered porch, and even told me what some of the buildings were, that I could see from the porch, that were part of downtown Battle Creek.
 You won't see any advertisements about this building saying that it can be rented out for weddings or similar private functions---in spite of the lovely architecture!
 This "gazebo-type" structure forms a picturesque "bridge" between the old and the new parts of the facility.
 I am thankful that this historic landmark has not been torn down, and that it can serve as a reminder to us Americans, of the pioneers who helped make it possible for food production/processing in the United States, to keep pace with this country's ever-increasing population.  There is this verse in Genesis 1:29---  "Then God said, 'I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth, and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.'  "  I am thankful to God, to farmers, and to food industry pioneers, who help bring "miles of breakfast smiles" to people around the world!  Tricia
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