You Probably Believe This Kellogg's Corn Flakes Urban Legend

For a short flurry in August 2019, social media buzzed with its search for the reason why Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal was invented. The reason for this, as best exemplified by a reaction video uploaded to Twitter by the comedian Ricky Berwick, is that the Kellogg family believed that the cereal would bring health benefits to all aspects of life, thus reducing the need to manually relieve oneself of one's pent up sexual stress. You can imagine the salience such a fact would gain on social media.

However, Snopes decided to fact check the story and discovered no actual evidence for the claims made. They managed to track down the earliest mention of Kellogg's purpose as a bulwark against the needs of self-satisfaction in a 2012 article by Mental Floss. The article explains Kellogg's general belief that, like the humors in the Medieval period, a person's health can be regulated by adding various elements to their diet: "He thought that meat and certain flavorful or seasoned foods increased sexual desire, and that plainer food, especially cereals and nuts, could curb it." It also touches upon Kellogg's prudish views on both intercourse with one's spouse and, in his view even worse, intracourse. 

The piece then jumped to the conclusion that his general views on sex were at the forefront of the invention of Corn Flakes, when instead, food historians point to it as a proposed cure for indigestion. So, all the pieces are right. They just don't fit that way.

On the other hand, Graham Crackers were intended as such

Do not be too disappointed, though. While they debunk the connection between one iconic food and Puritan disdain for one's lustful tendencies, Snopes has verified another: graham crackers.

In a 2002 fact check, Snopes found that Reverend Sylvester Graham also believed that a stodgy diet devoid of meat and filled with fiber would reduce one's desires. Somewhere along the line, though — sources disagree about the actual date — a biscuit named after Reverend Graham emerged. Today's graham cracker, however, differs radically from that envisaged by the teachings of Reverend Graham as it is made from sugar and bleached white flour, both from which he also abstained. 

What is interesting then is how widespread such beliefs about the anaphrodisiatic qualities of heavy fiber, stodgy grains carried. Even though the connection to corn flakes proved false, both American staples emerged from roughly the same period in history with the same beliefs attached. However, considering the viral interest that the false claim attained, it seems that, even with society's progress on views of sexual orientation and the like, the essential prudishness that characterized the original Kellogg and Graham remains.