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The former Bremen Kellogg's factory on the Weser

Photo: Eckhard Stengel / imago images/Eckhard Stengel

Kellogg's is one of the best-known food brands in the world; the image of the American breakfast cereal producer is friendly and solid.

Recently, however, a cynical statement from the company's boss caused a stir, and a look at the company's history shows that this was not the first scandal.

“If you can’t afford dinner, just eat cornflakes.”

Kellogg's CEO Gary Pilnick is currently being targeted on social media.

The multimillionaire recommended that poor families eat cornflakes for dinner to save money.

During a live CNBC broadcast, Pilnick explained that cereal has "always been quite affordable."

A statement that sparked outrage online.

One user pointed out that a $10 family pack of cereal and milk would cost about the same as a frozen lasagna to feed the same number of people for dinner.

CNBC host Carl Quintanilla also asked Pilnick whether his comments might be misreceived by consumers.

Since 2020, they have been forced to spend around 26 percent more on food.

One user criticized that Pilnick should have spoken better about the rise in food prices and the problems that come with it instead of promoting his products.

In the comments of the videos, many wrote that they no longer buy cornflakes because it is too expensive.

Kellogg's has been advertising its "Cereal for Dinner" campaign since 2022.

In the same year, food prices rose by 9.9 percent, the highest since 1979.

Some compared the statement to the phrase "Let them eat cake," which French Queen Marie Antoinette is said to have said when she was told that the farmers had run out of bread.

A TikTok user mockingly referred to the multimillionaire's income, which, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission in September 2023, consists of an annual salary of $1 million and more than $4 million in bonuses.

"This idiot makes four million dollars a year," the user said.

“Do you think he feeds his kids cereal for dinner?”

He also criticized the lack of nutrients in cornflakes.

Another user pointed out that cereals weren't as filling as real meals.

The invention of Kellogg's cornflakes as a sexual appetite suppressant

The inventor of Kellogg's cornflakes, Dr.

John Harvey Kellogg, it may not have been primarily about the cereal being satiating, but rather about curbing one's sexual appetite.

Kellogg was a eugenicist and racist who advocated “racial purity.”

He was obsessed with the dangers of masturbation, sexual arousal and intercourse.

He vehemently advocated sexual abstinence.

The marriage to his wife Ella is said to have never been consummated.

The fact that the two lived in separate rooms was an open secret.

At the end of the 19th century, Kellogg fought against the decline of civilization and poor nutrition in a controversial sanatorium.

There he invented controversial medical devices such as an electroshock therapy training bed and a medical impact massager, both to discourage masturbation practices in patients.

For Kellogg, the invention of cornflakes was part of his health movement, which he called "organic living."

This required more exercise, baths, consumption of whole grain products and avoiding meat.

In addition, the doctor believed that some foods can increase sexual desire and others can curb it.

Kellogg and his younger brother Will Keith worked together to develop corn flakes made from crushed wheat.

Kellogg's PR team

In 2016, footage from a Kellogg's factory sparked violent reactions.

In the clip, you can see an employee urinating on a puffed rice conveyor belt.

As the Guardian reported at the time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) opened a criminal investigation into the case.

According to internal investigations, the video was recorded two years earlier in a Kellogg's factory in Memphis, which primarily produces Rice Krispies.

The puffed rice products produced at that time had most likely already been consumed by the time of publication.

The employee pleaded guilty to tampering with consumer products in 2018 and was sentenced to ten months in prison.

It remained unclear why Gregory Stanton, who was 49 at the time of the conviction, committed the crime; a possible motive could have been frustration with working conditions at Kellogg's.

The incident received new attention last year when a student uploaded a video to TikTok reporting on the "Kellogg's scandal."

The incident was cited as an example of good marketing in her PR course at university.

The Kellogg's PR team "swept the video under the rug" so well that people were unaware of the event.

With her video, she ensured that this was no longer the case: it went viral and has been seen by more than 5.2 million TikTok users to date.