• Steven Heller

Cereal Killer Package Design

By: Steven Heller

I wouldn’t blame you if you mistook the artifacts below for works of art. In fact, they would fit very well into a Chelsea gallery amid the contemporary artists now working with typography. A few of them also suggest concrete poetry.

But no. These are progressive printing proofs for Kellogg’s products (c. 1930s-1950s). Kellogg’s has come a long way since the days when Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a devout Seventh-day Adventist until mid-life, was the chief medical officer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and was operated based on the church’s health principles. Along with his brother W. K. Kellogg, he invented the famous food as a curative for a healthier body. Later the two siblings squabbled about the product. (Check out “The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek” and T.C. Boyle’s “The Road to Wellville” for more.)

Dr. Kellogg was a messianic vegetarian, body purist and reportedly remained celibate during his own four-decade marriage. He devoted his energies to anything in order to cure his patients’ ills, experimenting with countless treatments and inventing dozens of his own. Some of his ideas, particularly on nutrition and exercise, were ahead of their time. In 1906 W.K. Kellogg opened the “Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company” with John they created the initial batch of Kellogg’s® Corn Flakes® and brought to life W.K.’s vision for great-tasting, better-for-you breakfast foods.

Back to the packages: What the Russian children and Alamo motifs have to do with the cereal is unclear. But cereal packages were not just containers but carnivals (prizes were doled out) and family entertainments, something to read and take one’s mind off the pressures of the world and digestive tract.

(Thanks to Jeff Roth, archivist extraordinaire.)

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