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Posts Tagged ‘John Harvey Kellogg

“The pâté of childhood”*…

North Americans weren’t the first to grind peanuts—the Inca beat us to it by a few hundred years—but peanut butter reappeared in the modern world because of an American, the doctor, nutritionist and cereal pioneer John Harvey Kellogg, who filed a patent for a proto-peanut butter in 1895. Kellogg’s “food compound” involved boiling nuts and grinding them into an easily digestible paste for patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, a spa for all kinds of ailments. The original patent didn’t specify what type of nut to use, and Kellogg experimented with almonds as well as peanuts, which had the virtue of being cheaper. While modern peanut butter enthusiasts would likely find Kellogg’s compound bland, Kellogg called it “the most delicious nut butter you ever tasted in your life.”

A Seventh-Day Adventist, Kellogg endorsed a plant-based diet and promoted peanut butter as a healthy alternative to meat, which he saw as a digestive irritant and, worse, a sinful sexual stimulant. His efforts and his elite clientele, which included Amelia Earhart, Sojourner Truth and Henry Ford, helped establish peanut butter as a delicacy. As early as 1896, Good Housekeeping encouraged women to make their own with a meat grinder, and suggested pairing the spread with bread. “The active brains of American inventors have found new economic uses for the peanut,” the Chicago Tribune rhapsodized in July 1897…

… and on to the introduction of “chunky,” the wide-mouth jar, the role of George Washington Carver– the story of the bizarre sanitarium staple that became a spreadable obsession: “A Brief History of Peanut Butter.”

* Food critic Florence Frabricant

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As we spread it thick, we might recall that it was on this date (which is, serendipitously, both National Peanut Butter Day and EWW’s birthday) in 1922 that another childhood favorite, the Eskimo Pie– an ice cream center covered in chocolate– was patented. Christian Kent Nelson, a schoolteacher and candy store owner, claimed to have received the inspiration in 1920 in Onawa, Iowa, when a boy in his store was unable to decide whether to spend his money on ice cream or a chocolate bar.  After experimenting with different ways to adhere melted chocolate to bricks of ice cream, Nelson began selling his invention under the name “I-Scream Bars.”  In 1921, he filed for a patent, and secured an agreement with local chocolate producer Russell C. Stover to mass-produce them under the new trademarked name “Eskimo Pie” (a name suggested by Mrs. Stover), and to create the Eskimo Pie Corporation.  After patent 1,404,539 was issued on January 24, 1922, Nelson franchised the product, allowing ice cream manufacturers to produce them under the now-ubiquitous name.  (The invention made Nelson “rich overnight,” according to a 1922 New York Times article about the dessert. By then, Mr. Nelson, then barely 29, was making $30,000 a week in royalties from sales of the product.)

Ultimately the company was acquired by The Dreyers division of Nestlé– which has, thankfully, announced that it will change the name and packaging.

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Trouble just south of the Arctic Circle…

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Reuters reports:

The soaring popularity of a fat-rich fad diet has depleted stocks of butter in Norway creating a looming Christmas culinary crisis.  Norwegians have eaten up the country’s entire stockpile of butter, partly as the result of a “low-carb” diet sweeping the Nordic nation which emphasizes a higher intake of fats.

“Sales all of a sudden just soared, 20 percent in October then 30 percent in November,” said Lars Galtung, the head of communications at TINE, the country’s biggest farmer-owned cooperative.

A wet summer which reduced the quality of animal feed and cut milk output by 25 million litres had already limited supplies and the shortage has led some pundits to suggest the world’s eighth-largest oil exporter offer some of its plentiful fuel supply in exchange for butter…

Ironically, just across the narrow channel that separates the two countries, Denmark– the region’s dairy powerhouse– is positively swimming in butter.  But as Norway demurred on the EU, painfully high import duties keep Danish butter out of reach…  at least for now:  Butter is now selling on Norway’s top auction website, with a 250-gram piece starting at around $13 (8.28 pounds), roughly four times its normal price.  And as Galtung notes, “Norwegians are not afraid of natural fats, they love their butter and cream.”

Don’t we all…

 

As we spread it thin, we might spare a thought for a man who would have been horrified by the Norwegian’s flight from carbs to calories– physician and health-food pioneer John Harvey Kellogg, who died on this date in 1943, aged 91.  For 62 years before his death, Kellogg operated a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan that was run along holistic lines:  a vegetarian, he advocated low calorie diets and developed peanut butter, granola, and toasted cereals; he warned that smoking caused lung cancer decades before this link was studied; and he was an early advocate of exercise.  For all that, he is surely best remembered, for having developed corn flakes (with his brother Will, who went on to sweeten and commercialize them).

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Written by LW

December 14, 2011 at 1:01 am

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