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Corn Flakes Invented to Curb Masturbation

Guess John Harvey Kellogg preferred mastication
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2015 4:31 PM CDT

(Newser) – Kellogg's Corn Flakes sure are tasty, crunchy, and a great cure for masturbation. Sorry, the last bit's not true—but it's partly why John Harvey Kellogg and his brother invented the cereal back in 1878, Real Clear Science reports. An outspoken surgeon, writer, and medical chief at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, Kellogg abstained from sex and warned against the alleged dangers of masturbation. Such dangers included insanity, impotence, epilepsy, acne, poor posture, and blindness, in Kellogg's view. Among his tips: Avoid all "exciting and irritating food," wrote the Seventh Day Adventist. "A man that lives on pork, fine-flour bread, rich pies and cakes, and condiments, drinks tea and coffee and uses tobacco, might as well try to fly as to be chaste in thought."

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He also invented a few grain breakfast cereals "as healthy, ready-to-eat anti-masturbatory morning meals," reports Mental Floss. Brother Will, who managed the sanitarium's books, helped him invent corn flakes but wanted sugar on them to help them sell—an addition John refused to accept. Meanwhile, John suggested more severe anti-masturbatory practices, like running a wire through boys' foreskins to curb erections and burning the clitoris with carbolic acid to keep girls' fingers away. Today we know the health benefits of self-love, like reduced depression, lowered prostate-cancer risk, and a better immune system, the Conversation notes. But Kellogg wasn't all quackery: He also argued that smoking led to lung cancer long before the scientific community concurred. (Read more Corn Flakes stories.)

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