Post Cereals were Created by C.W. Post, a Former Sanitarium Patient
The Post Cereal company was founded by Charles William Post in 1895.
Just who WAS this Post guy? It begins with Kellogg’s.
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg was the man chiefly responsible for Battle Creek's cereal boom; he was chief medical officer of the Battle Creek Sanitarium in the late 1800's and worked on diets to help his patients. His first cereal creation were flakes made of wheat, used to replace bread. His brother went ahead and began marketing these health flakes as breakfast food and the empire began. C.W. Post had been a sanitarium patient of Dr. Kellogg's.
While toiling at his job manufacturing farm equipment in 1885, Post had a mental breakdown. After quitting that job and becoming a real estate developer, he suffered another breakdown in 1891. Seeking help for his mental problems, he discovered Dr. Kellogg’s sanitarium. While a patient, he observed the breakfast products that Kellogg was coming up with for the sanitarium inmates. This inspired Post to kick off his own cereal company; it has been suggested that he stole the ideas from Kellogg for cornflakes, a breakfast beverage, and Grape Nuts.
In 1895 he formed the Postum Cereal Company and created his first product: “Postum”, a breakfast grain beverage inspired by a Kellogg’s coffee substitute. This was followed in 1897 by his first attempt at cereal, "Grape-Nuts", which was based on granola biscuits and one of the first ready-to-eat cold cereals. These were followed up by "Elijah's Manna" which would later be re-named and become world-famous as "Post Toasties."
Just a few short years later, in 1900, Post’s company was doing well, making an annual sum of three million dollars.
C.W. also established the La Vita Inn in Battle Creek, a sanitarium that he hoped would heal mental patients by the power of suggestion.
Post’s death in 1914 could be a clue as to why he was in Dr. Kellogg’s sanitarium to begin with. The facts are a little fuzzy, but he was experiencing extreme stomach pains, thought to be appendicitis. He took a train from California to the Mayo clinic in Minnesota, where he was told his problem was inoperable.
There are other sources that say Post did indeed have the surgery but still experienced continuing stomach pains. Whether he did or didn’t, one fact does remain: Post decided to end it all and committed suicide by shooting himself. He was 59 years old and worth 33 million dollars.
Following Post’s death in 1914, the Postum Cereal Company was changed to General Foods Corporation.
C.W. Post is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek.