True Tales of Packaging History: The Birth of Breakfast Boxes
With the creation of this popular new product, the brothers began to part ways. The Doctor believed in the value of his health regimen above all and placed its importance above mere profit. William, on the other hand, tired of working fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, for a paltry wage under his domineering elder brother. When John refused to build a proper modern factory for the production of the cereal, William had one built when the Doctor was traveling in Europe. William also continued to develop new recipes, creating corn flakes and even experimenting with sugar, a blasphemous ingredient to the health-obsessed Doctor.
When the sanitarium and the cereal factory grew into separate concerns, William was free to add flair to his packaging that his brother resisted. William chose more appetizing titles for his products and his company would eventually pioneer the use of brightly colored cartoon mascots as an alternative to the Doctor’s rather grim choice of a photo of the sanitarium. He printed his name on every box with the warning, “Beware of Imitations. None Genuine Without This Signature,” to deter the competing cereal companies that had sprung up in Battle Creek, and that same signature is still on every box today. William also pioneered the mail-in redemption of prizes to encourage customer loyalty--save those box tops, kids!
In one way William Kellogg’s cereal boxes were rather different from ours: Kellogg decided to distinguish his boxes from those of his competitors by encasing them inside a heat-sealed plastic bag on which was printed the cereal’s brand name and ad copy. Yes, that’s bag on the outside, box on the inside, and cereal rattling around in the center. It was William’s own son, John L. Kellogg, who developed the now standard practice of putting the bag inside the box. And so it’s been ever since, although there’s always the opportunity for innovation.