Thursday, September 03, 2015

Cornflakes without Milk?

What would your breakfast cornflakes be without milk? Would it surprise you to know that Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the man who developed and patented the quintessential breakfast cereal, thought that milk was a filthy food not fit for human consumption?

Here is part of a talk he gave on March 2, 1899 to the International Health Association.

by: Dr. J. H. Kellogg

Milk as Food - Three Kinds of Cooking - Experiments Showing Starch Digestion - Peanut Butter - International Health Association.

I have been asked several questions, and I will try to answer some of them.  The other day a good brother asked me if I could recommend the use of milk; and I remarked that milk is good for calves.  The fact is, so far as my observation is concerned, that milk is not good for any class of beings but calves, - that babies or adults who are compelled to live on milk will suffer in consequence. The large share of stomach troubles and bowel difficulties of many babes is due to cow's milk.  Sometimes this food is the best the child can get; and of course if that is so, the little one has to make the best of it.  But it is an unfortunate thing for any person to be obliged to live on cow's milk.  The reason for this is that mother's milk, the natural food of the child, forms in the stomach of the child small, soft, flaky curds, which are quickly digested. Cow's milk, on the contrary, forms large, tough curds.  I once saw a man who nearly lost his life from taking milk. He came home one evening, tired, hungry, and thirsty; and being in a hurry to go to bed, he swallowed three pints of milk. He went to sleep feeling quite comfortable; but about two o'clock he awoke with a strangling sensation. He felt something in his throat, and placing his finger in his throat, he pulled out three yards of milk, - a rope of milk three yards long. It was fortunate that he was strong enough to expel the mass, else it would have remained in his stomach and rotted, inflammation would have set in, and he would have had gastric catarrh, and probably would have died. 
Cow's milk is the filthiest thing that comes to our tables.  Suppose water had so much filth in it, so much barnyard manure that you had to strain it through a cloth before you would dare drink it.  You would have the water condemned.  No one would drink it.  But you know what is in the bottom of the milk-pail is simply barnyard filth, a mass of germs. Yet people will strain out a large quantity of manure out of their pail, and then drink the extract from it.  We have no use for milk at our house. Our babies do not want it, and we have not used it for a year or two.
When I was down to Staten Island last summer, I met a gentleman who was in terrible bondage. He said: "Doctor, I came to see you about a very peculiar thing. My stomach is out of order, and I can not take anything but milk, and I have to have the milk from a single cow, and I have to give that cow distilled water; and if the cow has anything but distilled water, I can not use her milk; and if I use the milk of any other cow, I have a fearful time; and as I can not carry that cow around with me everywhere I go, I am in bondage. I am simply tied up to that cow, and I want to be delivered from her." 
There is nothing that goes on our tables which is more filthy than cows' milk and its products; and the sooner we are delivered from this bondage, the better.

So, what did Dr. Kellogg suggest to lubricate the ingestion of his breakfast flakes? His wife, Ella Ervilla Kellogg, certainly had some suggestions in her book Healthful Cookery: A Collection of Choice Recipes for Preparing Foods (1904) –including cream, which was surely just as filthy as milk?

Toasted Corn Flakes as a Warm Breakfast Dish.

Place in a colander, strainer, or sieve the necessary quantity of the Flakes. Pour over it as quickly as possible a dipperful of hot water, taking care to wet the whole mass. Do not soak in water. Shake the water out quickly, cover, and set aside for a moment. It will then be ready to serve with cream, stewed fruit, grape juice, or other dressing.


Elise Fleming/Alys K. said...

What did Kellogg think cream was? It's the fatty part of milk, right? Why would that be cleaner than plain milk?

Anonymous said...

The good doctor is extreme in his views, but surely he was on to something? Babies don't do well on calves' milk, many adults cannot digest it, and unpasteurized nineteenth-century milk was full of germs. In any case, let us all make sure to avoid fatal gastric catarrh.

The Old Foodie said...

I agree, bklynharuspex, that the milk of the time was often dirty - and let us not forget it was also often diluted or adulterated for sale. Dr K does not seem to have suggested an alternative for infants who could not be provided with breast milk for whatever reason.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Elise. I wonder if Ella Kellogg made some compromises in her book, in order to appeal to a wider audience, thence to 'convert' them?