Friday, April 17, 2009

Sex and the Cereal

Straight from the annals of weird history, this story is sure to make your breakfast taste less good.

Dr John Harvey Kellogg (born 1852) was a man of peculiar fixations. A man of his day, he warned his patients against novel-reading, the waltz, honeymoons, and the consumption of meat or alcohol in order to protect against sexual excitation and its most deplorable handmaiden - masturbation. His particular obsession was eradicating the scourge of female masturbation, which would apparently destroy both body and mind. He made a twelve-point list of symptoms which would denote a young woman's descent into this "vicious habit", including everything from a marked change in disposition, to a fondness for spices and vinegars, to nail-biting, languor and lassitude, heart palpitations, ulcerated hands and nails - and, my personal favourites; "unnatural baldness", "loose or easy manner in company with boys", and "a blank, dull, expressionless eye surrounded by a dark ring".

Kellogg's obsession with preventing "self-abuse" led him to prescribe some pretty interesting preventions and cures. Mothers were urged to "instruct their daughters respecting the importance of regularly relieving the bowels and bladder at a certain time each day", as failing to do so would lead to the organs becoming "irritable" and would induce "abnormal excitement". He urged vegetarianism and vigorous exercise coupled with Bible reading, and occasionally cool enemas or salt baths. When these failed, he urged (and often carried out) a clitoridectomy.

At some point, Kellogg must have realised that there wasn't time for him to excise the sexual organs of every masturbating woman in America, and produced the brainchild which the world best remembers - a bland and inoffensive breakfast cereal which would help patients keep their hands from straying below the belt; Cornflakes.

And here's the kicker. If a patient doesn't want to actually eat them, they can also be administered in enema form.

Thankfully, most of Kellogg's recommendations for female sexuality followed him to his grave, but we may have to suspect that he was onto something about cornflakes and exercise. John Kellogg died at age 91. Now - who wants breakfast?

-- All direct quotations from History Laid Bare by Richard Zacks.

Any thoughts on masturbation, quack cures, or breakfast cereals?


  1. masturbation is sex with someone you love at least!

  2. He was also an ardent proponent of male circumcision to halt masturbation.