Almanac: Birth of a breakfast cereal king

An advertising shot of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, circa 1943.
Victor Keppler/George Eastman House/Getty Images

(CBS News) And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac . . . April 7th, 1860, 153 years ago today, a day worth noting at breakfast tables across America.

For that was the day William Keith Kellogg was born in Battle Creek, Michigan.

One of 16 children, Kellogg quit school at the age of 14 to join the family business, selling brooms door-to-door.

By age 20 he had moved on, working at a health sanitarium run by his flamboyant older brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg.

As members of the 7th Day Adventist Church, the Kelloggs believed personal health was a tenet of faith, and were early proponents of vegetarianism, nutrition and exercise.

And so it happened one night in 1894, W.K. was in the kitchen working on a new type of granola. By accident, he let stand a batch of boiled wheat overnight. When he returned the next day, the mixture had turned into flakes.

A 1908 advertisement for Kellogg's Corn Flakes. CBS News

He repeated the process with corn . . . and Kellogg's Corn Flakes was born.

In 1906 the brothers incorporated the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flakes Company.

W.K. quickly proved a creative salesman as well, marketing the cereal with innovative advertising and packaging that featured his signature right on the box.

Over the years he expanded the menu to more than just corn flakes. Kellogg's created Rice Krispies in 1928, and by 1933 "Snap, Crackle and Pop" had become Rice Krispies' official spokespersons.

W.K. became one of the world's wealthiest men -- and greatest philanthropists, supporting childhood education, health, and countless other civic-minded initiatives.

Kellogg died in 1951 at age 91, one year before another signature product -- Sugar-Frosted Flakes -- was introduced with a roar ("They're grrrrrrrrreat!").

The same could be said about the Kellogg's company in general, with plants in 18 countries around the world, and sales totaling more than $14 billion last year.

That's an awful lot of snap, crackle and pop!

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