Kellogg’s Breakfast Tomato History:

The history of the breakfast tomato goes back to 1825 when John Harvey Kellogg (1833 – 1927) was born in Indiana. His father, Andrew Kellogg, worked at a fruit stand where he grew tomatoes. One day he gave some of these tomatoes to his brother William, who had just graduated from high school and wanted to try them out for himself.

William liked them so much that he asked his parents if they could sell him some. They agreed, but only if he would grow the tomatoes himself. After growing them for two years, William sold most of them to a local farmer named Henry Wirtz who used the tomatoes in his pies. When the Civil War broke out, many soldiers were stationed nearby and Kellogg’s Breakfast Tomato became popular among both Union and Confederate troops alike!

In 1863, William Kellogg returned home from the war with a new crop of tomatoes. He planted them all over his farm and began selling them to neighbors. By 1870, he had expanded his business into selling tomatoes throughout Indiana and Illinois.

Unfortunately, William died in 1876 before he could expand further into Michigan or Ohio. At this point, William’s sister, Eda, moved to Battle Creek, Michigan to look after the family business.

This is when John Harvey Kellogg came into the picture. John had just graduated from medical school when he discovered that his brother’s pie business was about to go under! He and his older brother, Graham, traveled to Battle Creek to try to turn the business around.

John believed that if he made the company bigger he could make it more efficient and turn a better profit. He convinced Graham to merge the pie company with his younger brother’s sanatorium and soon after John Harvey became the new medical director of the institution that would one day bear his name!

John was instrumental in turning the sanatorium into what it is today, but it is his legacy as “The Tomato Doctor” that we are interested in here. You see, back in the day, patients were served a lot of tomatoes in their meals at the sanatorium. John thought that this would be a great way to get people to eat more of his brother’s tomatoes!

He was right and once the tomatoes became popular among the patients, they soon became popular among the staff. By the 1890s, both the patients and staff were eating so many tomatoes that “The Tomato Doctor” was known far and wide!

Eventually, the popularity of tomatoes spread out from the sanatorium and into the greater community. The Wirtz family eventually renamed their farm to “The Kellogg Farm”. John’s brother, William, would be proud!

Thanks, John Harvey!

How to make them:

These are easy to make and only require a few ingredients.

Sources & references used in this article:

Evaluation of ‘Mortgage Lifter’Tomato for High Tunnel Production by L Jett – 2020 –

Breakfast: A history by HA Anderson – 2013 –

Paradox of plenty: A social history of eating in modern America by H Levenstein – 2003 –

Near a thousand tables: A history of food by CJ Male, K Whealy – 1999 – Workman Publishing

Peanuts: The illustrious history of the goober pea by F Fernández-Armesto – 2002 –

Beyond the Brillo box: The visual arts in post-historical perspective by AF Smith – 2002 –

Can You Trust a Tomato in January? by AC Danto – 1998 –

Evaluation of PRE and POST Applied Herbicides Along With Cover Crop Residue for Control of Escape Weed Species in Tomato Production Systems by C LeHoullier – 2014 – Storey Publishing



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