Electric Light Bath Cabinet.

The Kellogg Rejuvenators

Field review by the editors.

Battle Creek, Michigan

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg did not create Corn Flakes, or turn Battle Creek into the Cereal Capital of the World. That was his kid brother, Will Kellogg. Dr. Kellogg thought Will was an idiot, but Will took one of John's inventions, "Flaked Breakfast Food," packaged it with a better name, and made millions. For the rest of his life Dr. Kellogg was annoyed by patients asking for his autograph, thinking he was the Corn Flakes guy.

Dr. Kellogg was chief medical officer at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, which opened in 1866 under the guidance of Ellen White, a Seventh-day Adventist who received health advice in visions. Among her then-visionary therapies were fresh air, exercise, a vegetarian diet, and no tobacco or alcohol.

Please keep shoes on while enjoying the foot vibrator.
Please keep shoes on while enjoying the foot vibrator.

Dr. Kellogg combined White's austerity with his own showmanship and transformed the sanitarium into a place where the rich and famous flocked to purge themselves of unhealthy and sinful ways. Amelia Earhart, Thomas Edison, Johnny "Tarzan" Weissmuller, and President Taft all spent time in Battle Creek, subjecting themselves to Dr. Kellogg's "Biologic Living." This included White's original guidelines, Kellogg's dietary concoctions -- Carmel Cereal Coffee and Vegetable Meat among others -- and lots and lots of enemas.

Dr. Kellogg made it appealing with gizmos of his own design. You can see them at the Dr. J.H. Kellogg Discovery Center in Battle Creek's Historic Adventist Village. One display, "They Changed the World," states that before White and Kellogg "the world was a different and dangerous place" -- although Dr. Kellogg's Oscillo-Manipulator and Mechanical Camel frankly don't look very safe. Buttons allow visitors to bring the contraptions to life. Some sound like industrial washing machines. Others shake the entire building.

Electric Light Bath Cabinet.
Electric Light Bath Cabinet.

Garth "Duff" Stoltz, the Village Director, showed us around. Duff, a supporter of Dr. Kellogg, told us that the sanitarium staged endurance contests between vegetarian patients and visiting meat-eating football players -- and the football players always lost because the toxins in their meat-eater bodies made them tired.

Several of Dr. Kellogg's contraptions were designed to purge the system of these toxins. Patients would lie face down on the Kneading Machine to have mechanical mallets rat-a-tat-tat on their bladder and intestines. "It relieves constipation," said Duff. The Electric Light Bath Cabinet, a forerunner of the Easy-Bake Oven, "boiled the poisons out of the pores of the body," according to Duff. Patients would sit or lie inside a box, its mirrored interior lined with dozens of light bulbs, and Dr. Kellogg would roast them.

Electric Light Bath Cabinet.
Interior of the Electric Light Bath Cabinet.

Next to the box, sealed inside a glass frame, hangs one of Dr. Kellogg's all-white suits, a style later copied by Colonel Sanders. Kellogg always wore white, Duff said, because it was the color that allowed the most sunlight to penetrate. He would walk around the sanitarium with a white cockatoo perched on his shoulder, completing his ensemble.

Dr. Kellogg's contraptions were so fashionable that several of them were in the First Class gymnasium of the Titanic. Duff showed us the Electric Bed, the Foot Vibrator, and the Colonic Machine, which was reportedly Dr. Kellogg's favorite. Patients would be attached to a powerful pump that shot several gallons of water up their rectums, followed by eight ounces of yogurt. Multiple spigots on the machine suggest that this process was performed on more than one person at a time.

The sanitarium in Battle Creek was driven out of business by the insurance companies, said Duff, which were threatened by a facility that actually made people well. Dr. Kellogg and his brother both lived to be 91 and, despite their animosity, are buried side-by-side in Battle Creek's cemetery. The plots at one time had matching tombstones, but Will tore his down in spite before he died and replaced it with a sundial.

The Kellogg Rejuvenators

Historic Adventist Village

Address:
480 W. Van Buren St., Battle Creek, MI
Directions:
Historic Adventist Village. About a third of a mile west of the Federal Center. Park in the lot on the north side of W. Van Buren St. between Kendall and Wood Sts (closer to Wood St.), then walk from the back of the lot one block north to the Dr. J.H. Kellogg Discovery Center.
Hours:
By appt., or summer Su-F 10 am - 5 pm, Sa 2-5 pm. (Call to verify)
Phone:
269-965-3000
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Fetuses in Jars - Kingman MuseumFetuses in Jars - Kingman Museum, Battle Creek, MI - < 1 mi.
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American Museum of MagicAmerican Museum of Magic, Marshall, MI - 13 mi.
In the region:
R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, Lansing, MI - 43 mi.

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November 23, 2014

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