Cornflakes were invented to 'cure' masturbation

Cornflakes were invented by Dr John Harvey Kellogg in 1894.
Cornflakes were invented by Dr John Harvey Kellogg in 1894.
Image: 123RF/belchonock

With so much having happened in 2019, it's fascinating that the most-Googled question in SA this year was “why were Cornflakes invented?”.

If this question stumps you, the answer will leave you gobsmacked. Cornflakes, it turns out, were invented as an anti-masturbation meal.

Sounds like fake news doesn't it? We can only assume that many South Africans thought the same and took to the internet to find out, explaining why the breakfast cereal topped the list of trending questions in Google's 2019 Year in Search report.

Truth is often stranger than fiction, however. reports that when Dr John Harvey Kellogg invented Cornflakes in 1894, he marketed them as a “healthy, ready-to-eat anti-masturbatory morning meal”.

A devout Seventh-Day Adventist, Kellogg advocated for a healthy, vegetarian diet that didn’t include alcohol or meat. Needless to say, the first Cornflakes were bland and tasteless, and contained no sugar.

According, Kellogg also advocated for abstinence, believing that sex was immoral and unhealthy. He considered masturbation to be a carnal sin.

Kellogg wrote: “Highly seasoned [meats], stimulating sauces ... and dainty tidbits in endless variety irritate [the] nerves and ... react upon the sexual organs.”

Kellogg's simple remedy to fix both the poor diets of society and its immoral sins was his bland cereal which, when consumed, supposedly led to wholesome thoughts.

Cornflakes took off and have become a staple on breakfast tables around the world.