Kellogg’s surprising connection with cycling

sanitas-nut-adW.K. Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan is famous for breakfast cereal. Everyone knows that.

What’s less known is his connection to cycling.

W.K. Kellogg was a member of the League of American Wheelmen (L.A.W.). Although not knowing when he joined, his membership number is very low (1,092) making him one of the first Michigan cyclists to sign up.

In 1897, Battle Creek had the third most L.A.W. memberships behind Detroit and Grand Rapids (but just one more than Escanaba!)

When the L.A.W. began life memberships in 1901, W.K. Kellogg paid the $10 fee. He was just the seventh Michigan cyclist to do so. (Nationwide, Detroiters Horatio “Good Roads” Earle bought the first life membership while Edward Hines had the sixth.)

With his brother, W.K. Kellogg started the Sanitas Nut Food Company in the late 1890s. Both were vegetarians who experimented with nut butter as a protein substitute. They even received a patent for this early predecessor of modern peanut butter.

Their company advertisement on the right was printed in a 1901 League of American Wheelmen Bulletin. This was an early example of a healthy, sports-oriented protein product.

But in 1906, W.K. Kellogg parted ways with his brother and the nut business to concentrate on breakfast cereals.

From the Kellogg Foundation web site:

W.K. went on to become one of the world’s wealthiest men. But with his puritanical conscience, he felt guilty living the lavish life of a millionaire. Instead, W.K. felt obligated to use his fortune for the benefit of humankind: “If I am successful in getting out of debt, and become prosperous,” he wrote in 1909, “I expect to make good use of any wealth that may come to me.”

In 1930, W.K. Kellogg made good on that promise when he established the Kellogg Foundation. During his lifetime, he donated most of his fortune ($66 million) to create the Foundation’s endowment.

But that’s not the end of the Kellogg/bicycling connection. The Kellogg Foundation continues to support bicycle-related efforts throughout the U.S.

For example, they granted $1 million to help develop greenways in Southeast Michigan. They’ve also committed $2 million to building a non-motorized trail from Kalamazoo to Battle Creek.

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2 Responses to “Kellogg’s surprising connection with cycling”

  1. Rail trail mired in legal issues; m-bike.org; Go Bike! ride rescheduled | PedalGR Says:

    […] Kellogg’s surprising connection with cycling […]

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    […] recently wrote about W.K. Kellogg’s early bicycling advocacy efforts including his lifetime membership in the League of American […]

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